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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue Society Ltd

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue was formed to facilitate the rescue of Draft and Draft Cross horses from slaughter, abuse, and neglect.

Results: Thanks to the support of our generous donors, Gentle Giants has expanded and can now house 100 horses!

Target demographics: save draft and draft cross horses from slaughter, abuse, and neglect

Direct beneficiaries per year: 150 horses

Geographic areas served: the United States

Programs: rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, and re-homing.

Community Stories

76 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Anne R.1

Donor

Rating: 5

I believe this organization really care about the horses they rescue and give their all to see they have a chance at a better life. That they do all they can to save horses from slaughter and strive each day to improve their lives and see that they are adopted and given forever homes. So that is why I donate monthly to this rescue.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I own horses (8), cattle, sheep, dogs, cats as well as well as fish in my pond. I take care of them as best I can. Month before last I had a young registered mare that I had birthed and raised. The mare was beautiful sorrel, blaze face, three white stockings and one sock but she was crazy under saddle or harness. As a matter of fact she sent me for a helicopter ride to the Med. I gave the mare to a registered breeder for a breeding mare on the condition he would never sell her to the killer market. I tell you this so that you will understand that I love animals; however, I do support the slaughter of horses for food purposes and feel we need several such facilities in the U.S..
The picture you showed with the horse whose eye was half gone and someone stabbing a horse in the back were despicable and no slaughter house in this country could operate that way. While I realize you are an "animal rescue" organization which I am sure provides you with a very lucrative life style, all animals cannot be rescued. I can tell you first hand that I have seen and do see horses every day that are not being taken car of because their owners cannot afford to. In fact there are people who are turning their horses and donkeys out in the wild to starve to death or be ravaged by wild animals. If we had the slaughter facilities in this country these animals could be disposed of humanely and people in other countries could have the benefit of a source of food they prefer. In some countries horse meat is considered most desirable.
By the way, what makes the horse so special we eat other animals, our fore fathers ate horse meat, native Americans ate horse meat, during WW 1 and WW 2 our soldiers ate horse and mule meat.

5

Donor

Rating: 1

Like most other people that have rated this charity low, I get letters from the same company with my name misspelled as well. I get letters for SAVE THE DONKEYS, SAVE THE MULES, SAVE HORSES.......I've donated in good faith, but now I've been SOLD to the wolves.

Do Not Support THESE mailings. Toss them out without opening them. It's a scheme to fleece you.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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!

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

20 Derek C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

15 James181

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

15 Katie79

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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....

Previous Stories
13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

26 socialjusticeadvocate

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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.

26 Laura209

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

16 Jessica183

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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 :)

14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

12 Tbelle9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Previous Stories
12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

8 Erica46

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

7 Helene3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

24

Donor

Rating: 5

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

24

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over two years ago I was looking for a place to volunteer where I could be outside, be around horses, and continue to learn and grow as a person. GG was the answer to my extra time and energy, and desire to be involved with people who are dedicated and conscientious. Volunteering 2 days a week has made such a difference in my life, and I am grateful for the continuing opportunities that the rescue organization provides. The volunteers are valued and the horses treated with respect and dignity. It is a kind and interesting place to volunteer, well organized, with tasks accomplished in a skillful manner.

5 Sherry34

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer at Gentle Giants on a weekly basis and am awed by the loving care that the horses receive. The staff and volunteers do their very best to rehabilitate these horses, many of whom came from miserable experiences. For example, there is one volunteer who used her annual leave from the government to work daily for a month, with one of the horses who is very fearful and who has "issues". She was able to help the horse to accept blanketing, touching around the face, longing on a long line, etc. Her dedication is matched by the staff and other volunteers. It's a great place to "work".

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer regularly, and it's the highlight of my week. The farm is beautiful, the horses are so well cared for-Christine, Art and Alyssa go the extra mile to make sure that they are well cared for and everything that can be done to rehabilitate the horses is done. This rescue is a gem

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

25

Donor

Rating: 1

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.



Comments ( 1 )

profile

info 01/21/2014

All of our Independent Audits for the last three years are listed on Guidestar.org for you to see, and they break down percentages of Program, Administrative, and Fundraising costs. Yes, we do report our accounting differently now, because now we actually have an accountant! Yes, we have grown very much since 2005, when we began with 4 horses on a shabby rental property in my back yard. The rescue now houses 61 horses, has 3 employees to care for said horses, a volunteer force of over 250, and owns it's own farm which spans 109 acres. Lots has changed, and all for the better. Signed, Christine Hajek, President and Founder

Review from Guidestar

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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! ;)

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.

9

Donor

Rating: 5

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!

22

Volunteer

Rating: 2

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.

5 Jon_13

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I now have over a year in with Gentle Giants as far as volunteering goes and my thoughts have not changed. I would highly recommend this organization to anyone as far as donating, adopting, sponsoring and volunteering. I sit at a desk in front of a computer for 40+ hours a week; Gentle Giants is my own personal sanctuary from the work week grind. The staff and Board of Directors are highly approachable and engaging, with much knowledge to offer the beginner to the seasoned. My money and my time goes to this well run 501C3. The GG website is put together well, easy to navigate and always up-to-date. They maintain an interactive Facebook page where all comments are welcome and they share everything from fun times, political and educational news regarding horse slaughter, to the very sad times each and every rescue endures. Lastly the volunteers. I work with the best people ever. We have a well oiled core team who are always waiting for the newbies to come and join us with the hard work and fun times. Yeah...Gentle Giants is the place to be.

I filled out the questions below and they do assume you are no longer with the organization. That is misleading....I have no intentions of ever leaving Gentle Giants.

Chris Hickey

Previous Stories
5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering mid-summer of this year and can't believe I waited so long to do it. Not only are the horses very well cared for, so are the volunteers. I volunteered at another rescue for almost three years and while that was an excellent learning experience for me, I never got a chance to do many things I wanted to. You can only hear "you can't do that" so many times before getting disheartened. At GG, you don't hear "you can't do that", you hear, "WHY can't you do that?". There is a young girl that is volunteering to collect hours for her future education as a veterinarian. She told our director that she had never been on a horse before. 16 and never been on horse. Christine was shocked and said, "well, we shall fix that." She looked at us and said, "Go get John" and 20 minutes later that young girl was up on a very large, gentle horse and the smile on her face was priceless. After she was done, another "older" volunteer asked if she could get on him and of course, she could. That woman left as if her whole year had been made in those short 20 minutes of walking around bareback on a Shire. Volunteering is not easy, it's hot, it's cold, it's wet, there is a lot of poop, there is heartache and there is a lot of happiness and camaraderie. I am going to be 56 years old very soon and am going to be a toy soldier in a Christmas parade, possibly even riding one of the giants. How many people get to say they did that? If you ever, ever had a desire to volunteer at an extremely well run rescue, this is the place. No experience? No matter...you will be taught. Experienced? Then it's a win win for both you and GG. I will be with Gentle Giants as long as they will have me.