Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse industry. Today, we recognize Hope Equine Rescue.
Hope Equine Rescue is based in Auburndale, Florida; the rescue is a 501(c)3 organization whose formal mission statement is “putting HOPE back into the lives of horses, one at a time.” We caught up with Stacey Pierce, a member of Hope Equine Rescue’s board and in charge of media relations to learn more.
HN: Can you tell us the story of how HER got started?
Dani Horton’s family have always been horse people. Dani was a rodeo competitor throughout high school. The rescue was founded by Dani and the Horton family when they took in their first rescue that they named Hope. Hope was tied to a tree with a dog chain and left to starve in a neighborhood where neighbors drove by her every day and never did anything to help.
HN: What kind of equines are you taking in from what situations?
While we take equines from all situations, we specialize in taking high-risk equines from legal seizures. We work closely with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies in our area, to rehabilitate the equine while their cases move through the court system. We take the worst of the worst because we have the knowledge to help them.
HN: Can you describe your facility, staff and volunteers?
Our facility consists of approximately 15 stalls, a round pen, a medical stall, three to four paddocks (based on our capacity at the time) and an arena that includes obstacles our volunteers can train with. Equine are kept in single stalls but are socialized with other equines in the paddocks and arena when appropriate.
Our volunteer program is strong and consists of mostly high schoolers and adults who want their younger children to get involved. The volunteers are very dedicated. They are responsible for every aspect of a horse’s daily life, from practicing the basics, such as leading and tying, to training the horses for obstacle challenges. Our staff are also volunteers and they all step up as needed. We have staff members who oversee the volunteers and manage the barn and training, as well as an Event Coordinator who focuses on getting in-kind and monetary donations for our events, in addition to our Board.
HN: Where does your funding come from? Please feel free to share any upcoming fundraisers!
Most of our funding comes from private donations, which have taken a hit in recent years. We have been awarded grants here and there, but the bulk of our funding is raised through events. We are currently coordinating the Hope Equine Rescue Halloween Poker Ride, which will take place on Saturday, October 29, at Lake Louisa State Park. It features a trail ride with costume competitions and scavenger hunts, as well as prizes, food and fun. Details can be found at http://hopeequinerescue.com.
HN: Do you rehome/adopt out your horses? Please describe the process.
We do adopt out our horses once we have evaluated them and feel that they are ready for that. Our horses are featured on our website as well as our Facebook page. When someone sees a horse they are interested in, they are invited to submit the Adoption Application. We check references, such as their current veterinarian and farrier. We do a background check on them and a property check. We do require potential adopters to come out and work with the horse prior to an adoption being approved. Sometimes, it’s just not a personality fit between a potential adopter and horse. The fee to adopt a horse is just $200.
Every one of our adopters signs a contract, agreeing to yearly welfare checks and restricting the sale or breeding of a horse. If at any time they cannot take care of the horse, we require the horse be returned to the rescue.
HN: If there was one thing you wished people know about running a horse rescue, what would it be?
It takes a village. There’s so much to be done and we can always use the help. Even if you don’t know how to work with a horse, there are other things that need to be done, such as fence and barn repair, or event prep. In addition, it takes a lot of funding to keep Hope Equine Rescue in operation, and we never have too much because as soon as we adopt a horse out, there’s typically another one waiting to come in. We’d like to make improvements and buy a larger property eventually so that we can help more equine. We need the support of the horse community to do that.
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.