It seems likely from reviews online that this is a legitimate nonprofit, but from their fundraising tactics (and their responses to criticism), I actually thought it was a scam. I received an unsolicited mailing from this organization--I'm guessing they buy contact info from other animal rescue organizations--and on the outside of the envelope was a full color photo of a horse with half its face hacked off. It was incredibly graphic and, in my opinion, incredibly exploitative.
So here's the thing: I've worked as an animal rights activist for years and have seen equally horrifying images, both in pictures and in person. So I'm not a delicate flower who hides away at the reality of animal abuse. That said, I know from experience that this tactic repels more people than it attracts. To send unsolicited information with such images on the outside, not the inside, of the envelope is aggressive and, in a sense, violent. I kept thinking after receiving this letter what it would have been like if I'd gotten it six months ago, while I was spending my days in the hospice facility watching my father die, or how awful it would have been if it had come to a friend of mine (also an activist) whose five-year-old daughter is currently going through chemotherapy. There are many important issues that need attention, but I (and all others) should have a choice about what kind of images I am subjected to when I open my mailbox.
Most upsetting to me is that the owner of this organization responded to my email about the issue with an incredibly angry and nasty response, accusing me of being too sensitive and not recognizing how important this issue is. Based on this particular site and the reviews here by volunteers, it does seem like the organization does good work. It's not for me to say how they proceed with their fundraising and community outreach. But there are countless other organizations doing similar work to which I feel much more confident giving my time and money.
there is a federal correctional officer a usp cannan waymart, pA. miss cole that loves horses she would be a excellent canadate for one of your rescued horses I do not have a working email contact c/o miss cole at united sates penitenuary cannan waymart, PA
We have adopted 3 beautiful horses from GG (a Belgian, a Drum, and a Haflinger). From the moment we arrived to look at our first horse from them we knew we would not be disappointed. They know each horse on such a deep level, their likes/dislikes, temperament, needed experience level, etc. that you can be assured that they will do what they can to find you the very best horse for you. They matched my husband up with a beautiful Belgian named Cognac, who was injured, and let me tell you they went above and beyond to get her fixed up (she's as good as new). Cognac is my husbands "heart" horse, they couldn't have done a better job (even though she wasn't the horse we had picked on the website). The second horse we adopted was Lass. A Drum who cannot be ridden and has some health issues. They made she she went to a home that would take care of her needs for the rest of her life. And the last one we adopted just recently is a little Halfie named Stars. They showed us multiple horses and everyone agreed that Starts was just perfect for our son. And boy were they right! Those two love each other to pieces! This rescue takes their time with each horse and adopter to make sure they are the right fit. I know many rescues that don't do this which leads to injuries and usually a horse or other animal being given up again. I have never seen a rescue with so much compassion for their horses and staff and volunteers with so much passion for what they do!
Can not say enough great things about my experience volunteering at Gentle Giants. I started a little over a year ago and have been consistently at the farm 2-3 days a week. It is the kind of atmosphere that you find yourself drawn to, because you cant stand to be away. The program Christine is running for these horses is remarkable. I am constantly amazed at the change in these animals from the time they come to the farm to even a few months later. These horses from rough situations in terrible condition and through the love and care of gentle giants are rehabilitated into healthy, friendly, and most importantly happy horses.
The staff are friendly and helpful. As a volunteer it is a fun place, and a chance to learn a lot. The most rewarding of all is being able to make a difference in the lives of these animals through kind care and see the benefits of your work in these horses.
There are many ways we can be of service to our world, our community and all living things. Gentle Giants Draft Horse rescue is full of folks who care (literally and figuratively) diligently and deeply for some wonderful creatures. I just became familiar with the rescue earlier this year and have enjoyed learning about horses and making new friends along the way. I do what I can to support and fit this mission and its stars (the truly gentle Giants) into my busy schedule. Oh and there are more than just draft horses here. Come visit!
My girlfriend found and started volunteering at this horse rescue. I eventually agreed to come out and help with a project they were working on, the rest is history.
What I found is a giant family of genuine, good hearted, fun-loving, passionate horse lovers. I have always felt welcome and enjoy every visit the to the rescue.
The staff are always friendly and more than willing to take to the time to teach you anything you want to know.
I wish the world was filled with more people as kind hearted and honest as the staff and volunteers of gentle giants draft horse rescue.
This rescue is very dedicated to each horse it saves. Rehabilitation is paramount whether it's nutritional, injury or behavioral. A horse will not leave (through adoption) without many months of TLC. They seek to find the horse and potential adoptive person a good match. If for any reason the horse can no longer be cared for, they come back to the rescue as per adoption contract. I've been a volunteer for about three years now, and I can say that I have not found a group of people more passionate about animal rescue as I have with Gentle Giants. They are an amazing group. I could go on and on....
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!
I am a volunteer for Gentle Giants. They are highly organized and depend on the volunteers. I drive 3 hours round trip from another state three times a week because I totally love being at their farm. The horses get fabulous individual care. The staff and other volunteers care deeply about the horses and go the extra miles to make sure they are loved and get whatever they need. The horses always come first. I have worked with and for non-profits my whole life and I can say I have never seen one where there is so little money spent on useless overhead. We are all about the business of rescuing horses in great distress, making sure they are safe, rehabilitating them, retraining them with love and finding great homes for them. They are very strict about where the horses are re homed. The people involved are horse people and have broad knowledge of horse psychology and care. They are often among the first to intervene in rescue operations and are widely respected in the horse and animal rescue communities. They have classes and training volunteers must complete before being allowed to interact with the horses. The staff is amazing and work along side us volunteers. They often bring in experts for clinics and training and open them to interested people in the community. They participate in state and county fairs and have an award winning drill team made up entirely of rescued horses. These guys are the real deal and I am proud to be part of their tremendous mission. I also find the horses rehabilitate and restore me as much as I do them.
I started at Gentle Giants about a year and a half ago. I am in love with it. All the people who work there. All the staff. Its like heaven on earth. I have never been so happy to wake up early, work all day, then go home. Because by the end of the day i feel better knowing i helped horses in need. I see horses come in in terrible condition and by the end of their rehab they are a totally different horse. Gentle Giants does all they can for every horse to make sure they have the best care they can give. I love Gentle Giants and i am proud to volunteer there.
I have been volunteering once a week at Gentle Giants since I retired 5 years ago. This has been an incredible experience and it is amazing how the rescue has grown during that time. The horses receive the best care available and are now benefiting from a full-time trainer. The farm is well-maintained and every effort is made to keep the horses healthy and more adoptable. I look forward to my time at the farm and spending time with these deserving creatures.
I have now volunteered at GG for over a year and for (mostly) two mornings a week. I find the knowledge and compassion of the president, Christine; barn manager Alyssa and her her team - impressive! They fight hard to save and rehab the horses who are lucky to find the GG farm and when it is in the best interest of the horse, make the humane decision to let them go. The facility is consistently well managed and there is great passion and professionalism in the over 100 volunteers who support the horses. I'm proud to volunteer there.
Today I received a mail solicitation for Gentle Giants, a charity to which I've never donated; therefore, the organization could only have obtained my mailing address by purchasing/exchanging it from another animal welfare group. My bet it is one of the national level groups who sold it, but that isn't my main objection. Gentle Giants' envelope contained a graphic image on the front featuring the infamous back-stabbing method of horse slaughter. While I find the abuse of horses & all animals disgusting, this was an unnecessary, unabashed shock fundraising attempt that's in poor taste. Those of us who care for animals don't need those images shoved in our faces for effect. Since Gentle Giants (or its 3rd party fundraiser) knows my donor history, it already knows I would donate without this tactic. With no trigger warning for those of us who've witnessed animal abuse, the image is in full view of children and anyone else who glimpses the envelope in our mailroom or my living room. And please- no insulting lectures about how the images are necessary to "educate," as they can still be included on a mailing's interior with envelope phrasing that can encourage a consensual viewing. Needless to say, it went in the trash. I looked up Gentle Giants on Charity Navigator & other watchdog groups, but there's not enough info or history of IRS filings for any accurate rating. I'm sure there are some kind hearted folks affiliated with this organization, but their fundraising tactics are dirty pool.
I started volunteering this past summer. I learned that the staff and founder are set with focus and conviction. The work they do for the drafts is unselfish, humane, and full of patient compassion- day in and day out.
I spent more than 20 years working with horses . I taught lessons, showed hunter-jumpers, broke 2 year olds, and was an exercise rider.
I know a little about the treatment of horses. In the past I spent many weekends at the auctions looking for schooling ponies among the many horses that did not get rescued by a lucky break.
Christine and her staff have provided a second chance for so many horses on a beautiful farm with an awesome and tireless staff. They work hard to get the job done every day. They are caring and friendly with a strong conviction for how they care for their horses, staff and volunteers. They work hard and care even harder for their horses, and are not afraid of having a little fun at the end of the day. Gentle giants will always have my support, even if I can only be there a few months of the year. They deserve as much support as they can solicit. Support the Gentle Giants!
I've been volunteering with GG for about 6 months and it's my home away from home. I've never met a more devoted set of volunteers, and a knowledgable staff who not only know their horses very well, but appreciate their quirks. I don't know what else to say...it's like being your true self and having an amazing support team and amazing horses to guide you on your way while you in turn our your heart out to these creatures that deserve love and compassion and tons of snuggles :)
I have volunteered at Gentle Giants for several months. Everyone there works hard and its really all about the horses. As a volunteer, I have been able to participate in varied experiences such as accompanying them to auction/on a rescue and performing in a drill team exhibition at a county fair. I have already learned so much and really feel a sense of accomplishment. You can do chores/work that are interesting to you or you have experience with as well as learning new things. They are also so dedicated to their horses, giving them each individualized feeding plans and combinations of indoor/outdoor time depending on their needs. This makes more work but helps each horse to thrive. They are also realistic about their horses, giving potential adopters all of the information about the horse not just the positive points.
I first started volunteering over 3 years ago. When I started I was only 12 years old. When I came to the rescue I had just left a different barn where I was told I was to short and young to ride anything over 13 hands. My first day at the rescue I was put on a 17.3 hand horse! I love that everyone is given such a fair opportunity. Since then the rescue has grown and upgraded to a new 109 acre farm. In the past 3 years I have assisted on rescues, adoption appointments, training, and many more things! I have learned so many great things and really had a ton of fun. I am one of the youngest volunteers and I couldn't ask for a better place. It truly feels like a huge family! The opportunities are endless at Gentle Giants! One day you could be training a horse, and representing the rescue at a world horse expo the next! I have gotten to ride and develop many skills at the rescue. I have been able to participate in many shows and events as well. The people are knowledgeable and fun to be around. I truly recommend contacting the rescue to learn about the opportunities at Gentle Giants!
I started volunteering at the rescue about three years ago. My entire experience has helped me expand my horizon and knowledge in the horse world as far as rescue, rehabilitating, retraining, and rehoming these amazing creatures. Since the beginning I have found my dream horse and continue to work with her every chance I get. The rescue is very good at training the volunteers as far as their experiences in the barn and with the horses. Safety is a strong element that the rescue enforces strictly. Riding and Training is done in an organized manner and the rescue is conscientious about the rider and horse team they pair. I am highly impressed by the skill, dedication, and heart the volunteers, trainers, and staff put into carrying the day to day chores. I recommend Gentle Giants very much.
I have been volunteering at GG for a few months now and it is my escape. It's heaven on earth for me. It doesn't matter what kind of day I'm having I know that if I can make it to Gentle Giants I can forget all the bad and all the stress. I can do something I love to do. Be in an atmosphere I love to be in. I can comfort and be comforted by their amazing horses. It is my greatest joy to volunteer my time to Gentle Giants. GG staff is always there to guide and appreciate the work we do. Whether it's your first time around horses or you've been around them your whole life, there's always a learning experience with GG. Gentle Giants is one big horse loving family and I am more than happy to be apart of it.
I have been a devoted volunteer for about two years now, working at least two days a week for the rescue. Great people, worthy cause. Many, many horses have been saved, rehabilitated and rehomed. It's a joy to play a small role in the work of Gentle Giants.
I have been contributing to Gentle Giants for several years now. Periodically, I have received a letter soliciting funds and I was so impressed, I did contribute. Last week, my husband visited the facility and confirmed that our money is being well-spent! The facilties are beautiful, the staff answered all of our questions, and the horses are getting the best of care.
Review from Guidestar
Today I received two donation-seeking letters, both from horse rescue groups. The return envelope for both had almost an identical address, a post office box in Hagerstown, Md. Clearly this organization is using a professional, for-profit, fund raising company to send out begging letters. My name was sold to this company by another group to which I donated. When I find out which organization sold me out, they won't get another penny and will get a scathing review. It will be easy enough to identify them, as there is an error in the spelling of my name.