Draft horses may look imposing, but most are very sweet animals. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to care for them. Many horses end up neglected, abused and abandoned. That’s where the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue comes in.
Gentle Giants: The Amazing Rescue Charity Saving Draft Horses From Slaughter
We’ve talked about the Budweiser Clydesdales before, the massive horses that grace our TV screens and advertisements. We’ve even talked about the hilarious fact some of them may have moustaches. While we love to look at them and make use of their considerable strength, it isn’t always the case that draft horses end in such pleasant homes.
That’s where the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue comes in.
The Gentle Giants Draft Horses Rescue focuses most of its efforts on picking horses from auctions. This prevents the horses from going to slaughterhouses, where they become meat for the international horse meat market. They select horses that could earn a second chance at life (even if they are too sick to survive much longer) and rescue them. Hopefully, the horses then find a forever home.
But even more than changing these horses lives, they work to change the perception of these horses. While heavy work isn’t a bad thing, this rescue aims to show these horses can work beyond this as well. Thus, their horses for adoption also come with recommended minimal skill a rider must have to ride them, and an honest look at their personality. After all, it makes no sense to give a horse for adoption that the new owner can’t care for!
The Gentle Giants rescues horses they know can go through rehabilitation and live a fulfilling life. They select for behaviour and temperament as well. It’s a long-standing myth that horses that end in auctions cannot be used for anything else. This could not be further from the truth. Many horses end up there due to neglect or owners who cannot care for them, rather than behaviour or irreparable health issues.
It’s not just auctions that provide them horses, either. Sometimes people will reach out on their own. When this happens, Gentle Giants helps the owner to find a buyer themselves, rather than rely on them to find homes. When that’s not possible, they may take the horse in.
This rescue specializes in draft horses. These are often large, muscular, “cold-blooded” horses, which may look intimidating at first. But these animals, unlike many lighter breeds, tend to be gentle and well-mannered. There are several such horse breeds out there, but they tend to have one thing in common: their strength, and their use for farm and other heavy work.
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Often, people won’t believe these horses can work under saddle, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Coldblooded horses such as the Shire may be big, but they also tend to be slower and gentler, making for mellow horses and rides. They make good trail horses and sometimes might even compete in endurance and showjumping.
But most of them make a career pulling ploughs and carriages. Many of the Gentle Giants’ rescues come from Mennonite and Amish farms, which use them for farm work and pulling their carts. Others may come from a career of working on weddings and tourism alike, with carriages. Whatever the use, many of these horses end up in auctions, which in turn lead to their slaughter for the meat market. Other horses (especially mares and foals) come from Premarin farms.
How to help
The Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue currently has over 100 horses, spread in two farms, at Mount Airy, Maryland. Most of the horses adopted and rescued are from that region, although not always.
As a rescue, Gentle Giants relies on donations and sponsors. You can sponsor a horse with as little as $50/month, for partial sponsorship, to $200/month for full care of a horse. Any sort of help is important, as these horses often demand veterinarian treatment, at least at first. Individual donations are also possible. When at full capacity, the total cost of keeping the horses is around $12,000, so all help is welcome. They also accept donations of tack and other objects that they may have need of.
If you’d prefer to work with the horses themselves, you can also volunteer. Experience with horses (and in special draft horses) is not required, as Gentle Giants offers training before you start.
You can, of course, also adopt one of the horses — but they also restrict adoption to an area at most 4 hours radius from them. Arranging visits to the rescue happen through appointment, so be sure to contact them first.
Interested? You can find them here.
If you want to do you part, please share this article to give this amazing rescue center the exposure they need to help save more of these beautiful animals from the slaughter house!