Working horses aren’t celebrated like Thoroughbreds and different sport horses. These draft horses, barely observed when pulling heavy gear on a farm, could be discarded like an outdated tractor and bought for slaughter when their lifetime of labor is over.
The Light Giants Draft Horse Rescue (GGDHR) in Mount Ethereal, Maryland, has been working for almost twenty years to vary that ugly procession. The rescue describes itself as the primary and largest of its variety devoted to rescuing and re-training these “light giants” for adoption and offering them with eternally properties in retirement.
GGDHR founder and Govt Director Christine Hajek rescued her first draft horse in 2000 and established the rescue in 2005 together with her (now) husband James McIntosh.
Since, the non-profit has rescued greater than 1,500 horses, putting most of them into eternally properties. “We actually began the rescue program as a result of I already had 5 rescued draft horses by 2005 and I both needed to decelerate my rescues or begin a rescue farm and I selected the latter,” Hajek mentioned with a smile.
The power is located on almost 350 acres in central Maryland, an hour west of Baltimore. There are normally between 150-165 horses on the farm with the dominant breed being Belgians. Hajek mentioned Belgians are the popular working horse of the Plain neighborhood. The 2 different dominant breeds of rescued draft horses are Percherons and Haflingers. GGDHR locations 80-120 horses with adoptive households every year, she mentioned, and it takes a employees of 36 full-time workers and 200 volunteers ranging in age from 14 to 81 to take care of the horses, assist with adoptions and employees particular occasions and fundraising actions.
It prices about $1,400 to rescue a horse and get it to the farm, Hajek mentioned, with an extra $700 to $1,000 for vetting and medical care within the first month. Ongoing take care of every horse is about $300 per thirty days. Hajek mentioned the month-to-month hay and feed invoice alone for the horses on the farm is upwards of $40,000. Working earnings comes from grants, particular person donations and enterprise assist by means of particular occasions — together with races held on the farm’s trails.
“Sure, it may be daunting at occasions,” Hajek mentioned. “We couldn’t do it with out the volunteers, many whom give us greater than 20 hours a month grooming and caring for these horses.”
Hajek mentioned lots of her most skilled volunteers are assigned a selected horse for one-on-one floor coaching to assist make them extra adoptable.
Patty Mitchell is a retired trainer and has been volunteering on the farm for greater than a decade. She mentioned she’s “all the time petrified being round horses,” so her choice to volunteer “appeared loopy,” nevertheless it turned out to be life altering as a result of it helped her achieve confidence round all animals. “Now I present care and love to those horses who present their appreciation in reciprocating that love,” Mitchell mentioned. “I stroll, feed, and groom them together with plenty of mucking out of stalls which is all a part of maintaining the horses match and prepared for adoption.”
Mitchell has additionally labored with a Lady Scout troop that volunteered to assist wash dozens and dozens of horse blankets on the rescue.
The Light Giants’ draft horses additionally journey to colleges, church buildings and nursing properties, and go to different teams throughout the yr. “These horses are very calm when visiting kids or nursing dwelling residents, and it brings a pleasure and peace to many,” Hajek mentioned.
Roughly 70% of the horses rescued are purchased at auctions by outbidding meat patrons and brokers who buy horses to ship overseas for slaughter. “Horse meat remains to be standard for human consumption in Europe and Japan the place it’s thought of a delicacy,” Hajek mentioned. “Within the U.S., horse meat was included in pet meals till the Nineteen Forties.”
The group’s remaining rescued horses come from house owners who can now not take care of the animals or they’re acquired by means of humane legislation enforcement in Maryland and surrounding states.
“Our objective is to search out an adoptive, eternally dwelling for each animal inside a yr,” Hajek mentioned. “But when that connection isn’t made, the horse stays with us till we discover it a house.”
Be taught extra about Light Giants Draft Horse Rescue and its applications by visiting its web site: gentlegiantsdrafthorserescue.org.