Interview With MidAtlantic Horse Rescue
1. Where are you based out of?
Our main farm is located in Chesapeake City, MD - there we do some rehab, most of the retraining and adoptions from this location. We have satellite farms in Thurmont MD (rehab), Westminster MD (retraining) and Salley SC (retraining).
2. How long has your group been active?
Ginny Suarez and I started in September 2002 with 3 horses on a rented 3-acre field with a shed. We built our program gradually from there. Today we have a permanent home on 158 acres along the Sassafras River, just south of Chesapeake City MD. The main farm is home to approximately 40 horses, and we have about a dozen other horses out at our satellite farms. We adopt out about 60 horses a year. We have a small number of sanctuary horses as well.
3. What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?
We start by evaluating the horse physically- assess any injuries, condition, etc. We send our longer-term rehab horses like Peyton Place to our satellite facility, Joe Topper’s Breezy Hill Farm in Thurmont MD. Longer term rehab space is limited. Most of the incoming horses come directly to our farm in Chesapeake City. We update all vet, dental, and farrier work. If a horse needs some let down and build up time, they get it - some need it, some are ready to go right to work. We start them back under saddle, the first lesson is standing at the mounting block. Once horses can walk trot and canter both ways and are settled into the new riding horse routine, we put them up for adoption.
4. How does the process of retiring a horse work at your program?
When we started, the great majority of incoming horses were purchased from feedlots, kill pens, and low-end auctions. Now that the industry is behind aftercare, we do a lot of intake from Beyond the Wire (MD) and also supervise Delaware Park’s informal aftercare program- the Delaware Park Horse Aftercare Initiative- we work with Delaware Park, the DTHA, and CANTER DE to list horses for sale for trainers, and also take donated horses into MAHR as we have room. We also partner to run and “End of Meet” showcase in October, to bringing buyers for retiring runners.
5. How many different farms do you work with to retrain retired horses?
Three (see above)
6. Can you share a story or two about specific horses?
There are so many we can talk about! We take horses from MD’s Beyond the Wire, and also help run Delaware Park’s Horse Aftercare Initiative. We first met My Man Dan, a really cool war horse (2009, 95 starts) in the fall of 2017 when his connections listed him for sale. He didn’t sell, and we stalked him as he continued to run poorly over the winter. This year he came back to Delaware Park, still poorly running at the bottom- we were lucky to take him into our program here at MAHR. He has spent time just being a very cool horse and is now ready to start retraining to find a new home. We first met Peyton Place when a trainer friend claimed him in his first start at Delaware Park. We thought he was really cool and followed him through to his subsequent claim by Wasabi Ventures and his last start when he got hurt. We were then contacted about taking him into our program- he had already had a good start on his rehab. Fortunately, we just had a rehab spot open at our Thurmont satellite farm and sent him out there where he is currently continuing rehab.
7. What makes your program unique?
We were one of the first 19 programs in the country to be accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (there are now over 60) and are considered one of the top rescue/rehoming programs in the country. We were one of the first six rescues nationwide to be invited to participate in the ASPCA® Rescuing Racers Initiative. Our very first grant came back in 2002 from Thoroughbred Charities of America, and we are proud that they have supported us every year since then.
8. If people want to help your program, what can they do?
Spread the word about all of the great horses we have for adoption- horses of all ages and abilities and temperaments- because as one gets adopted, that makes room for another. We always welcome donations of any size, and love to have visitors out to the farm in Warwick!