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61 Reviews
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January 30, 2014

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January 30, 2014

I have been volunteering with Gentle Giants since 2012. I was able to use many of my already known horse skills. Gentle Giants also taught me new skills that pertained to draft horses. I have been able to take lessons and show these incredible horses. I have gown with the organization to auctions to purchase horses that would have possibly gone to slaughter. I also have helped horses be adopted. When horses have become sick or injured I have learned how to help with their rehabilitation. I have learned so many aspects of the rescue from working with the animals to administrative duties. Gentle Giants Draft Horse Society has taught me so much about the care of draft horses and the welfare of animals.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None The organization is always growing and changing to meet its own needs.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

January 29, 2014

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January 29, 2014

I started volunteering at gentle giants in 2012, i needed something to do in my spare time and absolutely loved horses! When I found GG I had to give it a try and I absolutely loved it, GG has changed my life. Iv had wonderful experiences, iv gotten to tend to auctions to help bring theses horses to a safe and secure place in hopes to find them loving homes, instead of having their life end in horrible matters. Iv gotten to work one on one with these animals and build wonderful bonds, and to even make one of them my very own! GG makes sure that these horses are place appropriately to the right homes and make sure both person and horse match! Iv been well educated with the way the process works with going to auction and what is the meat buyers price, and a safe home price. Some people think that spending loads of money is saving them from the meat buyer, but they are far from right. The meat buyers won't spend tons of money, and people think that buying horses offline that says "buy now their in the kill pen" are just paying boat loads of money to brokers, when in reality these horses where never in the kill pen. I could go on about so much I have learned but in all reality I would recommend gentle giants to anyone! You will learn so much and it's a life changing experience and I thank gentle giants for bringing my horse and I together it has forever changed my life for the better.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

January 20, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
January 20, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

I have trouble understanding the finances as reported on their tax returns. From what appears to be a mom and pop starting with $40,965 in contributions in 2006 and contributions totaling $942,138 over 5 years and I note in the first three years they spell out in detail program expenses for horses, supplies and vet expenses from 60 to 90 % of their revenues on the tax returns.. I can no longer find that detailed information on any of the tax returns.

I do see where in 2012 using an out side fundraiser, they show $1,574,679 of contributions, and show fund raising consultant fees of $277,540, direct mailing expense of $978,420 and fund raising expense $251,808..... my math says that totals $1,507,768 and leaves them with $66,910 and separately they receive about another $165,718. Does that mean only approximately 15% of all money raised goes directly for expenses to to obtain and take care of the horses.?? Even then I would have to look to the financial statements since their fundraising letters, solicitations and website do not provide that detail but does go to your heart to save horses that go to slaughter, but it appears they have not saved very many more than over 300 over all the years in existence, which I might be wrong.

I do not know what I am missing as I truly believe their saving animals is important, the question is at what cost and I am sure there must be explanations or more detail that will explain everything that can be found in their financial statements.

I have requested their audited statements and await a response from one of the three family connected people who I believe are the officers of the Corporation since inception.

In addition on their web site I do not understand the comment 100% of all funds donated go directly to the purchasing of draft horse straight from the kill pen.



Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Not sure yet what changes I would suggest, but they certainly have a good fundraiser and their financial statement will be my starting point.

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Unlikely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Unlikely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 24, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

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October 24, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

I found GG two years ago. Within 15 minutes of showing up on my first day of volunteering, I was given Manny to lead out to the field. He ended up leading me and then leaving me behind. I heard quite a few chuckles. From there, the day only got better. I was thrown right into things. I had experience with horses, but not draft horses, and I hadn't touched a horse in ~10 years. From mucking to feeding, I loved how I was thrown right into things. We went to a Parade of Breeds near DC that afternoon. Manny was mine to groom. I left the show that day with green(ish) stains all over my clothes, blisters on my heals (and hands, in part thanks to Macho Man Manny), and such a warm, fuzzy feeling. Fast forward to today… I’m now looking for a camper to place on GG land. I haven’t told Christine yet, though.

GG is a great rescue with amazing horses and people. Without a doubt, the horses are loved and well cared for. And happy! I love watching them frolic and roll, knowing they’re safe and well fed. Volunteers work hard and are very much appreciated. They are given every opportunity to work with the horses to gain more experience and confidence. After hard work, volunteers are even rewarded with the opportunity to ride. From meals of food, to movie nights, to fun shows—GG is a place where you can spend time and have fun with others who have a passion for helping horses. At GG, everything is very much hands-on. Questions are encouraged and safety is a must. You will experience all shades of the good, bad and sad of the horse rescue world. Honestly, I don’t think you could find another place like it, but until you experience it, you won’t know. Want to have a look into what it’s like at GG? Check out GG on Facebook. While you’re at it, check out Horsin’ Around.

Oh, and I love my pony! ;)

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Onsite volunteer housing, please.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 22, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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October 22, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

I have volunteered at Gentle Giants on a weekly basis for more than two years now and look forward to continuing my relationship as a volunteer and donor for the foreseeable future. I have been a horse owner for the last eight years and know how much work and money it takes to care for just a few, let alone 60 horses well. I volunteered at another horse rescue in the past and found them to be way less appreciative of their volunteers than Gentle Giants. Here volunteers are greatly appreciated and supported. They encourage volunteers to challenge themselves as much as they wish and are eager to teach and answer questions. Many volunteers start out with little knowledge of horses and are still welcomed if they are willing to listen and learn. The animals are clearly loved by the staff and volunteers. Those horses who are elderly and can no longer be ridden are given as much attention as those who are favorite rides. I read on another review some comments about the presence of other animals as a negative of the rescue. I, however, find it to be a positive. The presence a resident pig, calf, assorted chickens and goats seems to help some of the rescue horses overcome their fears of new and strange things. I would love it if my personal horses were not fearful when in proximity to other farm animals when out at shows or on the trail. These animals are all well cared for by their owner and yes, sometimes by volunteers who wish to interact with them but it is not a requirement. It IS REALLY all about the horses. The Vet is in frequent attendance and her services are used whenever needed. The farrier is knowledgable, patient and caring and takes the time that it takes to deal with their often lengthy list of hoof issues from past neglect. The staff is incredibly knowledgable and their abilities and strengths compliment each other well. During the time that I have been there the rescue has moved to a larger facility with better accommodations for the horses. The fields are large and spacious and the staff works to keep the horses in small herd environments with animals with similar needs and temperaments that work together. There are fields for horses that need grass for weight gain and fields for horses who need to be kept with less due to weight and dietary needs. There is a roomy hospital barn for the horses with very special needs that has very large roomy stalls. Every effort is made to select proper feeding regimes for each individual horse. They are modified as the seasons and needs of the horses change. When I am ready to look for another horse I will most certainly hope to get one from Gentle Giants.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have more staff and/or experienced volunteers with the time to spend working with individual horse in training. Many times the amount of day to day work that needs to be done to take care of these horses precludes having enough time for consistent training, especially when the weather is bad. It would also be nice to have the funding to improve fencing on the property. It is in constant need of mending.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 20, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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October 20, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

We adopted a wonderful horse from Gentle Giants. Christine was excellent to help match us with the horse that would best fit our family. The barns were really clean and the volunteers were knowledgeable and very gentle with the horses. I was really impressed with the farm. The fields were well maintained and the horses were very well taken care of.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 17, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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October 17, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

I have been with Gentle Giants for the past 10 months as a volunteer and a sponsor. I can not say enough about this organization. Everyone is devoted to the care of these animals as if they were their own pets. Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue is above and beyond providing basic care and needs of the horses. Christine Hajek is an amazing person, and I am happy to be part of this organization!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 17, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

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October 17, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

Over the last 4 months I have donated and volunteered at GG. I can't say enough about this wonderful organization, the board, the other volunteers, and Christine. I came in contact with GG because I was looking for a horse rescue to donate funding to on the internet. It was important to me that the organization not only rescued horses but that they also worked in the community, and had a solid adoption program. Prior to contacting GG I visited several other rescues. All of which were friendly and good rescues but did not meet my expectations or requirements like GG has. During my volunteer time everyone is very welcoming and willing to lend a hand. While I have a passion for horses my education and experience does not match my passion. So in the beginning I was worried that would be a problem with volunteering. I experienced just the opposite, everyone there has helped me to gain more knowledge and experience. I have learned just as much with my time at GG as I have during my last 6 months of private lessons elsewhere. The rescue goes out of their way to make GG a place everyone can find a way to help and connect with the horses. In addition to my outstanding volunteer experience I had a great donor experience. A few weeks after my donation Christine talked with me about where my funding went as well as how much of a difference it had made to the rescue. The horses at GG are loved, well cared for and happy. They are provided with excellent medical care to meet whatever need they may have. Their adoption program is also great. Christine takes the time to match the right horse with the adopter and is honest about the horses potential as well as any additional experience the adopter may want to have prior to the adoption. Several solid matches have been made during my time at GG. If you are looking for a great place to call home for your volunteer time checkout this outstanding rescue. If you want to know your donation counts look into giving the horses at GG the gift of life! I hope to see you at the barn!

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 14, 2013
8 people found this review helpful

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October 14, 2013
8 people found this review helpful

I have been involved with this organization off and on for the last 2 yrs,sadly I haven't been around in the last few months.The rescue as a whole has grown both in size and people,which is always good.Now I have been involved with other horse rescues and everyone has it's good and bad points.With that being said let me start with the good things about GGDHR.And I am sure my comments will be received differently by everyone who reads this.But if you have spent any time around the rescue and talked with the people you will see the following is a good assessment of activities at the rescue.During my visits I was always greeted with a smile from the staff,and always offered assistance if I needed it.The barn manager is a knowledgable horseman and is always willing to explain the routines of the individual horses.And from what interactions I had with him,he truly cares about these big beautiful creatures.The volunteer coordinator was always willing to assist with anything I was doing.And is knowledgable of the different breeds and common problems with each.And she also obviously cared about the horses.The maintenance guy was always busy with something,and I didn't get to chat much with him.But what interactions I did have it was obvious he knew alot about horses and farm maintenance.Christine was always willing to answer any of my questions and shows great passion for these beautiful creatures.I do believe that group can make great things happen for these horses and the rescue.As far as the rest of the board I didn't have much exposure to them.Only seen them around the rescue once in awhile.Now on to the part of my review that I am sure will be met with great opposition.The staff as a whole seem to know what they are doing,however I witnessed alot of unprofessional things take place at the rescue.Besides alot of drama and negative talk a out people behind there backs. I overheard alot of bad mouthing of other farms and volunteers when they were not around.I also noticed ALOT of alcohol on the premises,and I had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing some poor leadership.And I think with the number of underage volunteers wandering around the rescue,having beer and wine in the refrigerators unsecured is in poor judgement.I noticed another post that commented on some overweight horses.I do know that one field in particular was commonly called "the fat kids".But to disagree with the other post,it did seem the problem was being addressed.However I did take notice to a growing number of personal "pets" around the farm.And during my visits volunteers were interacting with these animals instead of the horses.I believe if your running a horse rescue it should be about horses,not chickens,goats or pigs.In one way or another they are using resources that the horses could utilize.Now I have chosen to stay away from the rescue due to the horses contracting strangles.And not wanting to cross contaminate I have chosen to stay away.But it saddens me to say that I was informed that several of the horses left the farm and went to a clinic when the entire rescue was contaminated.And a good leader would have chosen to skip any and all clinics or shows until the entire farm was cleared by a vet.It is pure negligence to do otherwise,by doing so you are possibly putting other horses from other farms at risk.Even if a horse swabs clean it can still carry the virus and infect other horses despite what some people may tell you.Simply ask your vet and they will agree the farm should have been locked down until all animals were proven healthy.I believe especially in these tough economic times a panel should be set up by local government.To monitor and evaluate rescues to ensure money and resources are not being mismanaged or abused.It truly saddens me to say that if I had to rate this rescue to others I have dealt with,GGDHR would be failing in its mission.I noticed too many personal opinions by the president and some of the other board members I had the privilege to speak with ruining things for the rescue.I know of several good people that are no longer involved with the rescue due to personal opinions.I think both the staff and the board should go thru an evaluation process by those that are at the rescue daily.And if it is deemed that any one person is hindering the mission,they be removed.Now I am sure Christine will try to disprove all of my comments and she will have her friends back her up.But if you have spent any time at the rescue and chatted with the staff as I did.You will know what I have stated is true.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Remove the board members and elect new ones.Enforce proper conduct for a rescue that is funded by the public.Remove all alcohol from the common areas,and enforce a code of conduct for all board members and staff.Remove all "pets" (ie goats,chicken and pigs) from rescue property.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 14, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

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October 14, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

After some years of learning about horses from my wife, I decided to get a horse of my own. Being 6'7" tall, and rather inexperienced with equine, we decided it was best for me to adopt a larger draft horse with an easy going temperment rather than buy one from a breeder. That's when we learned about Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue via the internet. We visited Gentle Giants in June of 2011 to meet some of their adoptable horses. Upon arriving, we immediately noticed that their staff was knowledgable, very polite, and helpful. The president of Gentle Giants intorduced me to several great horses that could have easily met my needs, but pointed out one horse in particular, Whiskey, that she knew would be a great match for me. I spent ground time with Whiskey in our first visit, and actually rode him on a second visit. During both visits, Mrs. Hajek observed Whiskey and I to make sure we could have a good partnership. I was still a bit inexperienced with horses at the time, but I could easily see that Whiskey had a good bit of proper training and seemed to be very tolerant of my green mistakes. We seemed to fit together just as Mrs. Hajek predicted, so we filled out all applicable adoption paperwork and soon enough, Whiskey was home with us. We could tell from the adoption paperwork that Gentle Giants goes that extra mile to help ensure each horse gets that "forever" and loving home. Gentle Giants was very helpful in advising us on feeding rations, feed types, and even some information specific to the draft breeds, all in an effort to help us keep Whiskey as healthy as possible. Whiskey has been with us for over two years now and has become an intergal part of our family, as the bond between he and I grows every day. My only regret is not living closer to Gentle Giants, as I would love to volunteer some of my time and be associated with such a great and caring equine rescue.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

help feed and care for all 64 horses in residence! Volunteer