Horses bring us all together.  

This is a phrase that I find myself repeating just about every day with gratitude and a good measure of incredulity. I think that among the equine’s many talents, this gift may truly be their greatest “Super Power”. I’ve witnessed it countless times since my earliest memories at the barn watching my mom take her riding lessons. I believe that horses are magnets for people. They draw us in. They inspire us. They calm us. They rely on us. They test us. They look to us for their welfare and their purpose. And, when they feel safe, they give their whole hearts to us. 

Horses simply make us better.  

Horses’ ability to attract people, from all walks of life, is truly one of my favorite things. They do so with blindness to everything that identifies us on the surface, but with instinctual understanding of our deepest, honest intention. The farm at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga (THS) is a vibrant setting in which to observe this magic at work. Every week dozens of individuals make their way to the THS farm, each with a specific goal to accomplish, and the horses draw them here. 

Over the weeks ahead, I look forward to introducing many of the stories of the people who bring their hearts and hands to the THS farm to enable us to do our work “Helping Horses and Healing Humans”. Each of these caring souls has a story to share about the path that led them down our driveway. This fact will keep me happily busy writing HoofPrints for many weeks to come. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that however winding each individual journey may have been, each one started with the call of the horses – to be near them and to connect with them.   

Who are the horses at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga?   

As of this blog post, the THS herd is comprised of 29 beloved equines. Our herd consists of sixteen Thoroughbreds, eleven Standardbreds and two miniature horses. Click here to meet the herd!  Today, I’d like to explain the more general backstory that led them all to our farm and to live out their days cared for by the staff, volunteer and donors who make the work of THS possible. 

Sanctuary (noun): a place of safety or refuge 

First and foremost, the THS farm is an equine Sanctuary Farm. This means that it is a safe place where the horses who live here will be cared for, for the rest of their lives, with a priority on their welfare and quality of life.  This place provides a soft landing to horses who might have otherwise fallen into harm’s way because they are no longer considered “useful” as the athletes they were created to be. Sanctuaries, of all types, provide safe haven from the dangers that too often threaten creatures who cannot advocate for themselves. To learn more about sanctuary within the animal world, I encourage you to visit the website of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). THS is proud to be accredited by this internationally recognized organization. GFAS ensures that abandoned, displaced, or injured animals receive the highest standards of care during rescue, rehabilitation, and the rest of their life. As a benefit of our GFAS accreditation, THS has access to best practices and resources that enable us to effectively deliver lifelong safety and welfare to the animals in our care. 

In addition to being a Sanctuary Farm, THS is also an accredited Aftercare organization. Aftercare is the word used within the horseracing industry to describe the collective effort to address the welfare and safety of horses who are bred for racing after their racing careers have ended. Within the Thoroughbred industry, the organization that accredits and monitors Thoroughbred Aftercare organizations is the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). THS is proud to be accredited by the TAA and to be included on the list of more than one hundred 501c3 organizations across the United States who dedicate their efforts to this work. The TAA plays an incredibly important role in ensuring that all organizations that care for retired Thoroughbred racehorses do so with consistently high standards.  The TAA provides a third-party validation of the integrity of our promise to “do right” by these equine athletes.   

Haven (noun): a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions  

Finally, the THS is not a rescue, it is a haven.  With three exceptions, the THS horses who currently reside at the THS farm were not “rescued” from difficult circumstances. Instead, they were each retired to the THS by responsible owners who recognized that their horse had reached the end of its traditional career. These individuals purposefully placed their horses in the safety of an accredited equine sanctuary. We are grateful for their vision and commitment to their animals. We celebrate these responsible owners for placing their precious creatures in our care. Over the days ahead, I look forward to introducing you to several of these very special “heroes for the horses” within the THS community.  

The horses’ “happily ever after” rests on our shoulders 

The THS community – staff, volunteers, board members, Ambassadors and donors – are the guardians of the herd.  By accepting these horses, we have pledged to fulfill the promise made by these thoughtful and caring individuals. 

The horses are counting on us. The THS team dedicates each day to providing a peaceful, safe “happily ever after” to each member of our herd. The purpose of THS is to keep the horses happy and healthy and to give them meaningful purpose as therapy animals.   

Would you like to join us in this work? We would love to welcome you to the farm as a volunteer, a donor or an ambassador. Contact us today to start your journey! The horses have many, many talents, but the one thing they can’t do is to tell their own story.  

We hope you will join our herd!  

Be well! Shine brightly!