When you arrive at the Bergen County Horse Rescue in Mahwah, NJ, you’ll quickly notice two Shetland ponies following on the tail of a gentle 42-year-old Palomino named Goldie. They freely roam the property checking in on the work progress of volunteers and munching on any dropped remnants of feed. This relaxed and peaceful scene is typical of the beautiful property located on 17 acres of prime land along the Ramapo River.
BCHR is located on a farm that originally started as a boarding facility. The farm managers realized very early on that their farm was destined for a greater purpose. After fending off several aggressive offers from real estate developers, they were able to get the land officially preserved. In 2016, they reformed as a horse rescue and began taking on new horses in need.
Many of their first rescue horses were boarded horses that had been abandoned by their owners. Today, President Erin Giannios and her team care for a slew of animals including mares with foals, mules, aging horses, goats, chickens, and many other grateful horses looking for a new life.
Since this is a young organization, they are still working to establish a set protocol for rehabbing, retraining and rehoming. They’re off to a great start by offering three types of grain to the horses based on individual needs. Horses also get hay and fresh water twice a day. Apples, carrots, and horse cookies are also distributed by the loving volunteers.
Any horses in need are given veterinary attention and holistic healing by experts associated with the rescue. A “quarantine” barn has been established to help deal with new horses who need extra time to become socialized or treatment for special conditions.
We spoke with a rescue representative named Donna who shared, “We recently built a lunging pen, have volunteers who regularly groom and exercise horses. We also have several volunteers whose only responsibility is to pet and socialize with new horses. This can include just sitting in their turnout for an hour or so not doing anything but sitting there.”
The largest challenges for BCHR are funding, organizing volunteers, and keeping up with repairs on an aging facility. Despite these issues, BCHR has established a very friendly and positive environment.
Donna explained, “I think that we have helped as many people as we have horses. We have created a community that supports each other and getting horses away from a bad situation tends to bring people together. We are truly grateful for the people we have on board and a wonderful 17 acre property.”
If you would like to get involved with the Bergen County Horse Rescue, see the information below:
Bergen County Horse Rescue
Location: Mahwah, NJ