For equines arriving at Days End Farm Horse Rescue, it’s just the beginning of a brand new life.
Kathleen Howe’s, founder of Days End Farm Horse Rescue, journey of rescuing horses started back in 1989. While visiting the stable she and her family kept their horse at, she noticed that a buckskin named Toby was consistently losing weight. Since he had no one to care for him, Kathy adopted and rehabilitated him with the help and advice of family and friends.
Toby was the first horse Kathleen rehabilitated, and after that success, she founded Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Maryland, and began taking in and rehabilitating more horses in need. Today, DEFHR is one of the most well-known equine rescues in North America, and has helped over 2,000 horses to date. The rescue has almost 100,000 Facebook fans who follow DEFHR as it helps with some of the more critical rescue cases that come through law enforcement and animal control agencies in the area.
Secrets to success
So what isDays End Farm Horse Rescue’s secret to longevity and success? “Two things make us unique,” says Executive Director Erin Clemm Ochoa. “The first is our expertise in rehabilitating severely neglected horses, for which we have a 98% success rate, along with the ability to find them new homes, for which we have a 94% success rate. The second is our commitment to education and our willingness to be transparent. In fact, of the more than 1,200 volunteers who come to our organization each year, most are beginners looking to get involved with horses. We take the time to train them on basic skills and enable them to make an impact.
“We also have an amazing Board of Directors; they have diverse skills and provide the organization with excellent governance,” continues Erin. “This is an important thing for horse rescues to understand as they grow. As a non-profit, we do work for the community and a good board of directors ensures we are focused, financially stable and running a sound business. We also have a fantastic staff, each of whom is positioned to assist the horses and the organization in his or her own way. They are fully committed, and go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our success. Our volunteers and interns are a key component to making everything work.” It takes a community to run a successful horse rescue, and Days End Farm Horse Rescue has built up a great group of people to help fulfill their mission.
Filling a need
Days End Farm Horse Rescue is also somewhat unique in that they do not seek out horses at auctions to rescue, or accept horses that people want to drop off. Instead, they have a very specific niche that they fill. “Currently, we only take in equines through animal control and law enforcement for cruelty cases of starvation, neglect and abuse,” explains Erin. “As large seizures arise, we also serve as a resource in collaborating with others to ensure the horses’ needs, and the cruelty case needs, are met. It’s sad to think that even in one of the wealthiest regions of the country there’s a need for an organization like ours.”
Days End Farm Horse Rescue is no small operation, either, and comfortably houses 80 to 100 horses at a time without the use of foster homes. “Because the horses we take in are typically court cases, we do not foster them out,” Erin says. “Once they are rehabilitated, we train them so they have the best chance of finding adoptive homes. Physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation is the main focus during the first three to six months. The horses that come to us are often suffering from severe emaciation, parasite infestation, dental and hoof neglect. Many have never been touched by a human and are very afraid. We are fortunate to be able to provide them with a place that understands their needs and that can patiently help them recover, working towards the end goal of a good quality of life and a forever home.”
How you can help
Even if you are not local to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, there are ways you can help that could end up having an impact in your own equine community. “By making a donation, you can help us assist rescue horses in a far-reaching way,” says Erin. “We have outreach programs that send teams into local communities to help with impoundments or general education. By putting support behind an organization like ours — one that is certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, and that has had Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for sound fiscal management and transparency for ten years running — you are partnering with an organization that strives to make real change.”
An even better way to help out your local horse community and rescue organizations is to scan local rescue listings next time you are looking for a horse for yourself or someone you know. “Rescue horses have a heart to survive and an unlimited range of talents,” says Erin. “Plus, they’re an experience like no other. When you adopt, you join a community that is setting out to change the culture for the horse industry. It wasn’t that long ago when horses had a purpose and served a vital need in society. Today, they are mostly pleasure animals. We need to make sure they don’t get lost in our future.”