Q: Where is Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue based?
A: It is based in Pawling, New York.
Q: How did your rescue group begin?
A: Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue was founded by owner, trainer, and breeder, John Hettinger. When he sold race horses, there was an agreement attached to the bill of sale that if the horse was no longer wanted, Hettinger would take the horse back and either provide sanctuary or an opportunity for a second career. He fought tirelessly to eliminate slaughterhouses in America. Upon his death in 2008, he donated 300 acres to become Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue.
Q: What makes your program unique?
A: We have rebranded the rehab/retrain/rehome program this past year. Our focus is reinvention, which consists of 5 Rs: rest, rehab, retrain, rehome, retire. We guarantee that every horse gets 60 days of rest. Sometimes that is in coordination with rehab. Even sound horses get that time. We want to make sure that there isn’t a hidden problem and that all of our horses have time to relax and enjoy a little rest and relaxation before their new journey begins. This gives us plenty of time to be sure there wasn’t an issue that people were not aware of and an opportunity to really get to know each horse and thoroughly assess them.
Q: What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?
A: See question above. When a horse enters our program, they have typically been assessed by track vets and/or trainers/owners, we typically have a plan as they enter rehab, we then work in coordination with our local vets to be sure the horse receives the proper rehab. As each horse starts the retraining process, we assess and decide where each horse will excel. Are they a flat horse, a trail horse, maybe a jumper or eventer. We also assess their lifestyle, do they want to live in a stall, are they best suited to live out, and we prepare them for what we think will offer them the best opportunity for a second career.
Q: Does Akindale do reporting?
A: We do yearly follow-ups with all adoptees. The adoptees are required on a yearly basis to send a photo and a form filled out by their vets, which include information, such as weight, vaccines, etc. We also try to do success stories with our adopters and their horses to showcase what these amazing Thoroughbreds can do.
Q: How many horses have you worked with?
A: The number is measured in the hundreds, as we handle about 30 adoptions a year, and we have 130 permanent retirees living in our sanctuary.
Q: How does Akindale receive funding?
Q: Currently, we receive funding via grant writing, fundraising, and events. Initially, our program was launched many years ago with a trust established by our founder, which gave us the foundation to build our program. We have just converted from a private foundation to a public charity, so we are dependent on the generosity of our supporters and our fundraising efforts.
Q: Do you have a story about a horse?
A: Earlier this year there was a large scale neglect case that involved many horses. We took seven into our program. One was a 3-year-old filly, who was just skin and bones. We were concerned that she might not pull through. She was the same size as a yearling that also came from the same case. She didn’t care for people and was extremely nervous. We have had her for about six months, and the change is night and day. She has just blossomed, she is sweet and full of life, she has finally put on the weight she needed and has a beautiful coat and life in her eyes again. It’s so rewarding to watch her. She was so withdrawn; it seemed that she had given up. To see her now, it’s amazing the potential she has to do big things.
Q: If people want to help your program, what can they do?
A: We are glad to take donations. People also can spread the word of Akindale’s mission, share their story, anything that will draw attention to the program. Adopt. Volunteer. Sponsor. Every dollar, penny helps. All of these things make a difference in the lives of our horses.