FACT: OTTB’s (Off Track Thoroughbreds) are super cool. They are funny, hard working playful, athletic, and sweet. Most of the exracehorses coming off the track are really young, just babies. But their large size sometimes can have people forget that! Here are a few things that helps the horses at our organization, if you are not close, I bet you can find one in your neck of the woods.
1. Showing up – When you show up, that is the best and biggest step. Our horses need care, they need attention. Our horses have been injured, sometimes neglected, they need physical and emotional support. That only happens when people put their boots on, and come out and help.
How to: Register for an orientation and then get on the schedule. Super simple Start here.. www.horserescueflorida.com/volunteer
2. Advocating. Racehorses can get a bad rap, often from those who don’t actually have personal experience. Follow us, ask us, learn from us, how amazing and wonderful these horses are. Learn what they know, what they don’t know. You might be surprised at how educated they are even though they are young. Walk, trot, canter, gallop, lead changes, turning, stopping, they do all of this every day in work outs. People see a race and think that is all there is- far from it!
How to: Do your research, meet our horses, visit the backside of a track but once you know, please be sure to spread the word! Every time we go to the track, we shoot some video of the work outs, you see horses going various speeds, directions or just standing still. Search our archives and then spread the word!
3. Adopt – if you are looking for a new horse, please consider an ex racehorse. Nearly everyone agrees that they should be saved. Sound or injured, but those same people often say, that is not a horse I want. See number 2 about really understanding the breed. We do kids and adult lessons on these horses.
How to: Come visit them, spend time, meet your match, its a bit like dating! There is an exracehorse out there that is perfect for you! Tbs have HUGE hearts. It is hard not to fall in love.
4. Sponsor – Whether you are local or not, you can sponsor a horse while it is in recovery and waiting for a home! Many groups have horses that can benefit from sponsorship, this is often from people who can’t visit, don’t live locally, and just really would like to help. That said, many of our volunteers also sponsor a horse! It’s a monthly contribution that goes to the care of one horse, or any horse that may need it.
How To: You can sponsor a horse right from our website! There are a few options, you can also arrange a visit if you are local to meet your prospective horse. You can choose which option you like! Check it out at www.horserescueflorida.com/sponsor
5. Start your own rescue! This is not something to take on lightly, but yet OTTB rehoming facilities do exists all over the country. Read books, visit rescues, learn, learn, learn. Have a long term plan, volunteer somewhere for a few years, learn what works, what doesn’t and then if you are still passionate, make the plunge! Start small, once you have had successes, then consider expanding, or just stay small and help a few at a time.
How To: Visit us, Contact your local rescue, there are books on Amazon, let yourself dream, and in the meantime, get your volunteer time in and keep learning! Educate yourself on Social Media, Marketing, Website Design, Accounting, Research how to start a Non Profit. The more prepared you are, the better equipped you are to be a success for the horses you take in.
Track to Trail Inc, a Naples, FL, an all volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit needs a new home!
Collier County, Florida:
Located in Pine Ridge Estates, the off-track thoroughbred rehabilitation facility is in need of a larger more conducive property for the healing of injured racehorses. We seek our own property, thru donation, funding or long term lease to continue our mission.
How we arrived in Pine Ridge Estates
Our original location out in Golden Gate Estates took a tremendous hit with Hurricane Irma and we had to relocate in order to continue. Extensive damage with fences down, shelter roof missing, feed room gone and tack room gone, flooding, it was too much to overcome while still tending to the horses.
We made the decision to move into town, renting a large commercial barn. That was a blessing with being able to meet so many lovely people that wanted to help, and certainly provided a temporary fix to our situation. A really urban environment though with and all the traffic, noise and commotion that comes with it are just not in the horses best interest long term. They need room to run, they need shade, and a tranquil environment to promote healing. Over the summer we have moved half of our horses back to our original location. They are back to running, playing and being happy, but this location is too small to accommodate the organization we have grown to be in the last two years. We need to find a place that encompasses both of these worlds, a great barn for rehab and educational programs with the ability for the horses to have what they need to thrive.
We want to find a location where we can continue to help these amazing horses as well as continue our girls programs and our free Reading to Racehorses literacy program, while giving the horses room to run, with plenty of shade and the tranquility.
Our Educational Programing and how that works w exracehorses…
We have been featured by the Naples Daily News, ABC, Fox4, NBC2, WINK and many other local media outlets!
We take in injured racehorses, mainly from Gulfstream Park, but also local horses that are in need when we can. Thru a huge core volunteer group (100+), we rehabilitate the ex racehorses and look to place them in local homes with loving families.
Something very unique that we do is pair these racehorses w the kids in our programs, to help them transition. The kids learn all about taking care of them, helping them heal, learning to ride again, and see them come full circle when they adopt out from our program. The program teaching the kids all about horsemanship skills, but also self-confidence, courage, empathy, and focus, so many life skills. They learn to really care for others. Read more….
The severity of the injuries mean most horses are with us 6-12 months for the healing and rehabilitation part of their stay, and then are available for adoption to qualified homes in Lee and Collier County. We need both stalls, small paddocks and large areas as the horses go thru this process. Most of our horses suffer injuries and arthritis related to those injuries, having them in small stalls and paddocks without the ability to move sufficiently makes arthritic conditions worse. The very best thing is for them to be outside moving as much as possible. We need dry areas and shelter/shade for them, in addition to a barn for the critical cases when they arrive.
We were delighted to be able to host a group of 14 children from the Judith Cohen Youth Center at our training facility. What smart intuitive kids!
They arrived with no prior experience and learned to help and worked w our volunteers to halter, lead, feed, groom, bath and work with horses. It was amazing how quickly they caught on and how much they really formed bonds not only with the horses but each other as the day progressed. Team work, compassion, grit. They had it all. So proud that we are able to offer programs like these while fulfilling our mission to help rehabilitate and rehome ex racehorses and other horses in need. Our hearts were overflowing… Thanks to Hilary Shore, Executive Director and all the staff at JCYC for making this possible!
(still in edit stage) So many people want to get into horse rescue. They see horses in need, locally, online, on facebook, how could you not want to help? But before you veer off, check your heart.
I would ask you, is your heart strong enough? Most people that get into real rescue have huge hearts, they just can’t help not helping! But its only a strong heart that will carry you though if you are starting your own. Its not for the faint of heart. Thats a really true statement.
A really huge heart can sometimes get you in trouble, taking on too much, overestimating how much others may help, even being a bit blinded to the reality of what it takes to feed, rehabilitate, house, and properly care for multiple horses If you are working with OTTB’s they are likely young, and perhaps have injuries that take months to heal.
You may get into rescue thinking you will feel good, helping these horses, when in fact you may not feel so good at all. The times you have a sick horse that you can’t help, an owner that is begging you to take the horse but you are full, the owner who is starving the horse that won’t surrender it, the time you posted something someone didn’t like on FB and you were bashed all over social media. That time you made a decision about a horse that someone somewhere didn’t agree with and gosspped about your decision to anyone that would listen. That time you didn’t have enough funds to feed the horses. All of those times that people said they would help you, and they didn’t. The time you had a fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane, and felt helpless, worried sick about the horses in your charge. All of these things, they put little holes in your heart and they can ADD UP. If you did’t have a strong heart, you end up with a broken heart. Pretty quickly
When you feel that you have been emotionally, physically, and financially bled dry, can you find a way to push that down and climb right over it to soldier on? While still caring for the horses? While still caring for yourself? You need a strong heart.
Don’t sit and worry about what may happen, sit and strategize to what concrete steps you are going to take to move forward. There is a solution out there, but you have to think of it There isn’t really anyone out there that can do this better than you. If there is someone better out there – ask them for help – and have a strong heart.
The reality is, that most people can’t do this long term. But if you are determined, and might I say really stubborn, there are ways forward
Surround yourself with people that support your mission with action, not words. Who is really willing to do the work, boots on the ground sort of thing
Go in with your eyes wide open People start rescues without realizing the huge amount of work that goes into it, forming your non profit, getting insurance, creating waivers, adoption applications and contracts, owner surrender forms, forming a volunteer group, and providing training so they can accomplish their goals, organizing events and fund raisers, maintaining trucks/ trailers, farm equipment, fencing, shelters, maintaining your accounting, web site, social media presence, this is just a few of the many many things that you will need to do in addition to the huge job of taking care of the horses- from the stand point of time, money and knowledge. There is a huge difference between owning horses and running a rescue and rehabilitating them and possibly retraining them for adoption. Again, surround yourself with people who can actually help with these tasks. You just can’t do it alone. Not forever.
Accept only the horses you can help. Thats a tough one. If you are at max capacity, how will you feed and care for that next one that you just HAD to make room for. The reality is the other horses will have to do without something. And then maybe theres another one, or a horse you have adopted out gets returned, now you have 2 or 3 extras over your capacity. Believe me it happens. You have to decide for yourself based on your help and finances and ability to adopt out how many horses you can take care of properly.
Ask for help! If you find yourself in a situation where you have to many horses, can’t afford feed, what ever the situation you have to be able to not be embarrassed and ask for help. I have seen people try to hide things like this, keeping visitors away, putting horses “out back” so that nobody can see them. Hoping things will get better. They don’t
Its hard when we have huge hearts and try our best and end up in a bad situation. You may be afraid of local gossip, FB bashing, but if you are honest and let folks you really do need help, mostly they help. Asking other rescues to take one or two of your own, looking for fosters, host an adoption fair, ask your local community to support a food drive. Just be sure to ask someone.
Look for solutions
Whether you are driving in your car, dragging the pasture, having lunch – keep your brain focused not on worry but on problem solving. Stay very far away from the what if – what if I don’ have money for feed, what if I can’t adopt out any horses, you have to change that around to How Do I- Again, form a plan of action. If that doesn’t work, try something else. The more important thing is to not shut down and not let the quality of care slip away
this is an ongoing piece of work, check back for edits, more info, and sources of help!
Be well my friends and leg up!
We are rolling out 2019 to be our best year ever!
Now thru the end of February 2019
Adopt a horse and get free lessons for 1 month!
Adoption fees waived if you have adopted from us before!
Adopt a companion horse or light riding horse and we will get you a 1000 bale of compressed hay to get you started!
We aways offer
Transport to adopters new home
Assistance w Medical Emergencies
We will pick them back up no questions asked
Free board during natural disasters such as fire/hurricane if you are displaced
-and many more benefits!
We always have a wait list of injured horses wanting to get in, the best way to help them is to adopt a horse that has already gone through rehabilitation!
If you are interested, please check out our Adoption Page, and FB page which hosts many pictures and videos then fill out an Application to schedule a visit!
Not ready to adopt? You can donate, volunteer, or sponsor a horse!
Each month the ranks of those making a difference for ex racehorses in Naples GROWS! Our monthly orientations are full of wonderful local people who would like to make a difference in their community, keeping it LOCAL!
Volunteers have the responsibility of feeding, caring, and rehabilitating the horses that come thru our doors. From Fractured Sesamoids, to bowed tendons, knees that have been nearly destroyed and horses that have been starved or abused. Every day and evening volunteers, take time out of their day to come and do something here to help. Their love of horses and all animals binds them in this cause.
They also share our stories on FB, bring friends and family in to volunteer and donate to our huge need of feed and hay and shavings and other misc things the horses need!
Without volunteers, we would not exist. If you are local, please come to one of our monthly orientations, its the first Sat of every month – you can register on our VOLUNTEER PAGE If you are not local, think about volunteering somewhere in your neck of the woods. Giving of yourself is one of the best things you can do in life!
Buy a shirt and help us fundraise! Custom shirts, unisex or women’s V neck in a variety of colors.