GT Pulse: Horses Get Second Chance Through Local Rescue
When Anne Keith was 13 years old she wanted a horse and her dad told her she could get one if she saved the money for it.
“I worked my tail off. I kept asking my dad, ‘Can I have a horse? Can I have a horse?’”
That horse stayed with her until it’s death and she had horses after that she provided a lovely life for as well. She may not be looking after horses of her own anymore but she’s helping place horses in new homes with Horse North Rescue.
The rescue started in 2007 when a group of people from Kingsley saw there was a need to place homeless horses.
“There were a lot of homeless horses. People weren’t taking care of them right, or they couldn’t take care of them anymore. They don’t have the money, they lose their job. Circumstances change and they can’t afford their horse anymore.”
Horse North Rescue’s mission is to save horses who are being mistreated by their owners, as well as provide an alternative for owners looking to give their horses up to auction.
Horse meat isn’t popular cuisine in the U.S., but it is in other parts of the world. When horse owners are giving up their horses through auctioning, many times those horses are going overseas to be butchered for meat. Horse North Rescue is providing an alternative to auction, and a path for horses to find a new, loving home where they can start over.
Anne is one of over 50 volunteers who donates their time to perform chores that keep the rescue running. She got involved after retiring from her job teaching English and government at Cadillac public schools.
She grew up on a bit of land and always wanted a horse as a little girl. She bargained with her father and he agreed that if she could come up with the funds to purchase a horse, he would board it for her.
“He had no idea that the board is the big deal. I saved every penny. I was 11 and I mowed lawns, the push kind that didn’t have a motor, I babysat. Anything I got for my birthday or Christmas I put it right in my bank. My first horse…he couldn’t have been better.”
Her first horse, who had been thoroughly broken, had a gentle disposition that allowed Anne to climb all over him while he patiently allowed her to learn proper horse mounting form.
“I was so lucky, for a lot of things. Lucky for a good horse, lucky that my parents let me do it. From that point on I pretty much had horses until I was in my early 40s.”
A career educating was fulfilling for Anne, but she knew that she wanted to be involved with horses somehow when she retired. Horse North Rescue was a perfect outlet. She had been following the rescue on social media for a while before finally going to the Kingsley location and asking if she could apply to be a volunteer.
Horse North Rescue is always looking for volunteers and a volunteer application is provided at their website horsenorthrecue.org. Volunteer duties range from shoveling manure to stacking hay to showing up at event booths. For people looking to adopt a horse, there is an application provided online as well. Hopeful adopters will also have to undergo a site visit where someone from the rescue will determine if the potential home will be suitable for a horse. The rescue also requires prospective adopters to have references, including a veterinarian, and a hay supplier. There is an adoption fee that goes back into supporting the rescue.
“We always say that adopting one horse actually saves three. You’re saving that one, and you’re giving room for another one, and then there’s room for a third one to be on the waitlist. These are not junk horses, these are good animals.”
The rescue lives off of donations, grants, and fundraising at events. Anne stressed that the way to send donations is to the P.O. box address at the Kingsley location, not the Lake Ann location.
The horses benefit from Horse North Rescue, but Anne and the other volunteers benefit too. The volunteers have formed friendships and a community of their own based around their shared love for horses.
“It’s joy and sorrow. Every time a horse finds a new home, we cry when they leave. We cry when they come in because they’re a mess usually. I’ve made really, really strong friendships through this organization. We’re all working for the same goal, we all want the best for the horse.”