Older Adult Volunteers a Good Fit for Maryland Horse Rescue – NBC4 Washington – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-05-30 10:12:03 –

Sally Lechner didn’t grow up around horses, but her sister came from Colorado and decided to go horseback riding with her.

While her sister was in town, they tried to find a stable but failed. Lechner said goodbye, but sent his sister home with a pamphlet about horseback riding in Maryland. Her sister later found the name Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Montana. Approximately 60 miles away from where Lechner lives in the airy Annapolis area, she decides to check it out.

The rolling green hills dotted with horses are where she fell in love with the rescue.

“I love this place. Everything in this place is great,” she said. “It’s freezing cold, it’s magic. Summer sweat is magic. Horses are so magnificent and so beautiful.”

Lechner has retired from teaching special education for 30 years and usually trekks to the mountains. Airy spends three times a week giving back to animals.

As Lechner explained her experience, a white Andalusian named Bellisima stretched her head from the stall and seemed to be in the spotlight. Lechner reached out and scratched her. White hair splattered from her coat and stuck to Lechner’s shirt.

She has been volunteering for this non-profit organization for a little over a year. This non-profit organization focuses on saving the largest and often the mildest horse breeds.

Founder and Executive Director Christine Hajek prefers draft horses to be the largest and best horses, but there is a greater reason why their organization is focusing on this breed.

“Draft horses are a very small percentage of the population, but the number of horses sent to slaughter is very large,” says Hajek. “That’s because they’re cheap, big, and thick.”

As of early May, the rescue team had about 120 horses on about 400 acres of land on the mountain. Airy and Woodbine.

According to Hajek, their rescue is primarily at auction. At auction, you can sell horses to people who don’t put their interests first. According to Hajek, some horses come from animal control and others have been abandoned by owners who want their rescue to give them the best chance of life.

One of the horses whose owners surrendered is a bay-colored horse named Harlem. This Belgian Percheron Cross, about 17 hands high, was once a carriage in New York City. Hajek said his owner offered him to the Gentle Giants because he was diagnosed with a serious hoof disease called Kanker. According to Hajek, treatment can be difficult and even fatal.

Hajek says the Gentle Giants were able to save Harlem by becoming known in the horse community for their successful treatment of mouth ulcers. It’s been about a year and a half since I was in remission.

But Harlem does more than survive. In fact, he is probably one of the most famous horses rescued. He is the Gentle Giants Ambassador and goes out to the community for the event. Hajek points out that not all horses are suitable for the life of an ambassador, but Harlem has been accustomed to being around people and cameras since he was in a big city.

“They either have a desire to do so, or they don’t,” Hajek said of the horse.

Ambassador horses go to places such as nursing homes, club meetings and parades. Attendance at the event will help raise awareness about rescue and build relationships with the community.

“We can see people calm and relax,” says Adria Strausbaugh, Director of Community Outreach. It’s almost spiritual.

“Whenever I have the opportunity to take a few horses to show it, it’s really special.”

At Elderly Housing with Care, Heijek was surprised to find out how many ex-riders there were.

“Some of the bedridden residents even asked the nurses to roll the entire bed out to see the horses,” Hajek said of his recent visit.

The Gentle Giants continue to rely on donations and volunteers. According to Straussbow, about 38% of more than 160 volunteers are over 50 years old.

“Even after finishing my career, people still have something to do,” she said.

“They still have a purpose and want to make good use of their time and make it worthwhile. This is a great way to do that.”

When the pandemic broke out and couldn’t hire volunteers, Hajek said the workload of about 26 staff was heavy.

Hajek wants potential volunteers to know that they don’t have to be young and healthy to donate their time.

“Older volunteers may not only have the opportunity to volunteer, but may not realize that we have a really great fit,” Hajek said. “There are young people, but not many.”

She said they would work with volunteers to find tasks that fit their abilities.

“I’m just being asked to do what I’m ready to do,” Lechner said.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email vololours@gentlegiantsdrafthorserescue.org or call 443-285-3835 to ask for Adria Strausbaugh.

This non-profit organization welcomes donations as well as sponsors.

Click here for details Gentle Giants Draft horserescue.org..

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