Every Friday, HN teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we salute a Saddlebred rescue helping the overlooked horses among the breed.
This week’s honoree:
Hilarie Thomas, a director of Team American Saddlebreds, kindly answered our questions about the organization’s efforts in the Saddlebred industry.
How did Team American Saddlebreds get started? What inspired the creation of the rescue?
Team American Saddlebreds (TAS) was incorporated in 2008, received its 501(c)(3) status on August 19, 2009. TAS was established to be an alternative resource for horses that might not otherwise fit within the Saddlebred horse show world. The founders intended to intercept horses from training barns prior to them being sent to the Amish. The thought process was that some of these horses would be suitable for dressage, pleasure, B Level or below horse shows, endurance etc. The founders saw a need for an entity such as TAS and set about to create it.
Unfortunately, 2008 through 2010 saw the US in the throes of a debilitating recession that hit the horse world extremely hard. Donations dried up and one by one the founders of the organization resigned. There were two original board members on the Board of Directors when I was asked to be a board member in 2012. That year saw TAS reinvesting in the original premise, plus rescuing horses in need.
Please describe your rescue facility.
TAS does not have one central facility which makes us rather unique. We do have a location in Penn Yan, New York where we board roughly 12 to 15 horses. The horses stabled there are generally the horses rescued from lower-end auctions and usually in need of rehabilitative care.
TAS has a trainer with whom we have partnered in Stow, Ohio. Shannon Hafer currently is working and training 7 TAS horses.
The remainder of our horses are located in Simpsonville, KY at our third boarding facility. These horses tend to be those fresh from some of the breeding operations.
Describe your staff: any full/part time employees? How much do you rely on volunteers?
TAS does not have any employees. We rely 100% on volunteers and help from our donors and foster homes.
Where does your funding come from? Any upcoming fundraisers you’d like to share?.
Our funding is probably 85% from our loyal supporters. 15% of the funding is attributable to grants we have received. We have a Saddlebred Scholarship Fund that we are fundraising for at this time. The concept is that all horses in our care should have some training or at least started. This fund is geared to get some of our youngest horses into a training program at a reduced rate with another trainer we have partnered with in Louisville, KY.
Any individual success stories you’d like to share?
We have so many, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. One of our biggest success stories was the assistance with the Versailles horses in 2013. It was an operation that we undertook when we were contacted by a vet who had been called out to visit some horses in Versailles, KY. The owner’s husband had passed away and she suffered from many ailments and had not been out to feed or care for the horses since his death. What the vet had found was severely malnourished horses that had been neglected for some time. This vet wanted to euthanize all 11 horses and a pony. We were able to rally support to get these horses back into a healthy condition. We found homes for all, even the 24-year-old stallion and his Hackney best friend. Treasured and Java were adopted to a farm in Hardy, Virginia, where they are thriving.
Anything else important we should know?
There are four board members: Jennifer Hegg, Zena Muzycenko, Jonna Egli and myself, Hilarie Thomas. We work as a team and each of us has unique strengths that make this organization work. We all have full time jobs and families, yet we are all very passionate about the horses in our care and the state of the Saddlebred industry. We are hopeful that the future will bring more positive results for the TAS horses.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.