“They’ve earned the right to have a safe ending.” These are the words Rebecca Roy uses when discussing Draft Gratitude’s founding in 2014. Her rescue works exclusively with draft horses, whose bodies often show the scars and effects of a lifetime of hard work. “These are horses that have worked tirelessly in harnesses their entire lives. They are quiet, well-trained, talented horses with plenty of life left to live. They deserve a second chance and a place to call home,” she says.
Draft Gratitude travels to auctions, arriving early to walk through, view the horses and determine those that need the second chance that their facility can provide. “You can’t save them all, that’s the hardest part, but it’s about doing the best job you can with the ones you can save," she says.
Many of the horses that arrive at the facility are malnourished, often having some lameness or other medical issues due to their history. The staff works to rehabilitate them and gets to know each horse’s individual abilities, often starting with just handling or brushing to allow the horses to feel and know that they are safe. This goes hand-in-hand with the initial vet assessment and farrier work. As Rebecca recounts, “We have had some amazing successes with body condition transformations. Dangerously thin horses have made full recoveries and gone to be adopted.”
Just one of the success stories that touched the hearts of those at Draft Gratitude is Captain’s. He was 8 years old when Rebecca found him at the New Holland Sale in Pennsylvania on May 4, 2015. Rebecca noticed that his eye looked very irritated and painful, but his sweet demeanor shone through. “He seemed to know immediately that he was safe when I found him after the sale, he put his head on my chest and let out a huge sigh of relief,” remembers Rebecca.
Captain’s eye issue turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma, which was removed to keep the cancer from spreading into his skull. It was suspected that Captain had lost use of the eye long before the surgery, so adapting to the change didn’t pose a problem to this spunky boy. “He rolled in the dirt as soon as he got home, I nearly lost it!” says Rebecca. It was hard to believe someone could discard this gentle giant for having a treatable condition. Finally, after weeks of recovery, the stitches were removed and Captain was ready for his new life. He has since been adopted and spends his days surrounded by love with his forever family.
Draft Gratitude is an all-volunteer organization, carrying out their mission with the support of dedicated volunteers and contributors. “Caring for these deserving draft horses is an honor and we are thrilled to be able to provide a soft landing for as many as we can,” Rebecca says. Visit their website to learn about their horses and see how you can get involved and share their passion.
Winchester, New Hampshire
If you are interested in loaning or donation your horse trailer to this particular organization, then check out details of our Horse Trailer Donation and Sharing Program here. Then, post your comments below to help out!
Also, learn more about horse rescues in these two articles: