SouthWestFloridaHorseRescue is a very special, special place!
Horses come in after being neglected, or abused, or given up, because for whatever reason, their humans can no longer care for them.
Lots come in skinny, fearful, not knowing what to expect, since their past was not a kind one.
They get Vet, and Farrier care, and great food, and love. Lots and lots of love.
My favorite thinwg to see, is a new horse getting messages from the horses already there. I imagine what those huffing, gentle horse messages are.
"You are safe now. The people here can not wait to show you love. No one will ever hurt you again."
And usually within days, you can see what love and good care does. Formerly scared horses, looking for human contact, a formerly woebegone horse, now kicking up.their heels, trotting around their 3/4 acre paddock. A look of interest in their eyes, that was not there before.
And very quickly, they have their favorite volunteer to give them special attentions.
There are no egos here. Everyone is there for the horses.
I once asked Tina why this was? She said that negative and entitled people just don't fit in. Everyone gets a chance, and most people who have a different agenda, simply go.
The moment you drive through the gates off of VERY busy Rte 31, the noise of traffic faces away. You can hear birds singing, dragonflies flitting by, and the sounds contented horses make. Time and worries go away. It is truly just all about the horses.
I obviously could go on,and on. But this Rescue is the nicest, most hard working one I have ever seen. Not a penny is wasted. And it all combines to create this 20 Acres of Paradise.
We moved here from NY 6 months ago, and a big priority was to see if there was a program, or rescue that involved horses.
My husband and I had volunteered at several animal rescues on Long Island, NY. At a therapeutic D ding center, at a small horse rescue, and at several dog shelters.
My husband loves all animals, but especially horses. He doesn't ride, he just loves to groom them, and give them TLC.
I found SWFHR online and once the enormous job of moving / unpacking was finished, we came to see the place.
It was amazing! So clean! Large grassy areas for the horses, who looked content and well nourished.
But, there was an even nicer thing. MINI horses! A few months before, an entire herd had been rescued. All males, except for one made, Blackie, who brought her OWN surprise...she was carrying a foal.
Since they have no idea when she got pregnant, we are still waiting for her foal.
Tina, one of the Co founders, suggested Rich start with grooming her. Since she had just been left out in a field, unattended by her former owner, she was a little resistant to being handled.
But, by our third visit, a love story began. When RICH Crimes by, she Whicker's at him, trots over, and looks to see if he has carrots. But first, he grooms her. She stands still, letting him brush her all over. After that, comes the best part. Yes carrots are involved, but she will walk into his arms, holds her face to be kissed, and rubs her face on his.
People just stop to watch.
There is a sweetness, and calm in this place. Even people busy working, will stop, and wave, and say Hi.By your second visit, you already feel accepted, wanted, and appreciated.
This not ceness takes some getting used to
South West Florida Horse Rescue continues to be a model rescue/sanctuary for horse of need in its own community. Coming up on 10years strong in operation and aiming high with the care of the rescued horses it takes in and educating the community it serves to the need of responsible horse care.
The most caring people I have ever met! So extremely dedicated to saving the lives of horses in need. You will never meet a better bunch of rescuers than the ones at south west Florida
Matt and Tina are two of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life! The love they have for these horses is so great and they will do anything to help them. I love going out to volunteer whenever I can! Such a great place and a great cause! Love South West Florida Horse Rescue inc!
Here is a picture of the 2 horses we adopted from this Rescue, one last spring and the other this May. They are both in our care now and thriving in upstate NY. They were pasture mates at SWFHR and this picture shows them reunited in NY after a year apart. There are no words needed to express the love they feel for one another. This is what the volunteers and directors of this rescue do...they are the best!
We started volunteering at this wonderful horse rescue just a couple of months ago. The peace and tranquility of this place is good for horses and humans! Tina and Matt are super people and they, their staff and the volunteers take excellent care of the horses...no matter the cost and no matter how long. We fell in love with Victor, one of three horses they rescued from a breeder 5 years ago. This little guy is so healthy and has such a wonderful disposition. He is a testament to their dedication and caring nature. We just had to adopt him! He will be heading back to NY state with us when we leave for home in May. Already, we can't imagine a week without volunteering our time to the Rescue. If we didn't live so far, we would probably be there most every day. Thank you SWFHR, for all you do, for how working with you makes us feel...and for helping us to find Victor, too!
Baby Trooper was rescued by the Crew at SW FL HORSE RESCUE, in the nick of time. He willingly walked into the trailer not knowing... what was Next!!! Tender, Loving Care was given to Trooper...Vet attention, Ferrier care, a nutritious diet... and room to roam...and the company of other horses and LOVING HUMANS. Life happened and now Trooper is owned by Darcey and me, Patti. Trooper has a glorious future ahead of him,esp because he has his own GIRL, Jordyn, to keep his life active in the future❤
I had the pleasure of meeting Tina and Matt in early 2014. I had followed them on FB for nearly a year and wanted to go out to their new Rescue facility to discuss bringing my Girl Scout Troop out for a day in the country with some very deserving rescue equines. When I ask about bringing the girls out, both Matt and Tina were very open to the idea as they both agree, get children involved with horses and you keep children out of trouble. We continued to be in touch and developed a strong friendship over the course of just a few weeks. My dream has always been to own/operate my own horse Rescue and what better way to be a part of that dream than to volunteer at SWFHR. I learned a lot about caring for horses, interacting with rescue equines and how very important fundraising is in the livelihood of horse Rescue. In January of 2015, Tina and Matt brought a little frail and horribly malnourished stud colt to the Rescue. My daughter, Jordyn, and I feel in love almost instantly and would visit as often as we could. We followed this little boy's journey and even helped with the Name Game to choose an appropriate name for this little one. Trooper...absolutely the best and most fitting name we could possibly give him. He has, indeed, proven true to his name over the years and in July of 2016, my friend, Patty and I, opted to call this boy 'ours'. Since Patty is a snowbird and is only in Fla. during the winter months, we agreed to 'co-parent' Trooper. What a joy he has brought to us all, with his little antics and incredible will to learn and grow, he keeps us all on our toes. Recently, I was asked by Tina and Matt to take the next step in my role at SWFHR, by accepting the offer of Barn Manager. I can not begin to tell you how very honored I was to be chosen for this very important position. I still hold my part-time job at a nearby training facility but the majority of my time is spent at the Rescue. As a part of this amazing team of volunteers, I can honestly say, there is not a more deserving organization than SWFHR. If you would like to learn more about how you can help, visit our Rescue page on Facebook or call 239-567-4111, to schedule a tour of the facility. Once you become a volunteer here at South West Florida Horse Rescue, you are instantly a part of a growing family. Come be a part of it, you will be glad you did.
Committed to saving the lives of our local horses and being their voice is the best decision I EVER made!
Upon meeting Tina and Matt, for the very first time, back in the summer of 2011, I knew right away that they were dedicated to saving the lives of our local horses and I was more than willing to help. When they started their horse Rescue in 2010, I don't think they were aware of just how important their passion would be and how many horses needed them. Operating on 5 acres and with 4 personal horses, they were very limited on space. My wife, Lynnda, met the couple during one of their fundraisers and brought them to our farm to discuss the possibility of us fostering one or two of their rescue equines. Well, nearly 6 years later, we are very proud to say, we have offered sanctuary to 16 of SWFHR's equines. Levi, Chica, Cherokee, Angel, Windy, Baby Girl, Dolce, Latte, Copenhagen, Margarita, Pepe, Joker, Lady, Micco, Marley and Lily (I hope I didn't leave anyone out) Although I developed a deep bond with all who entered our gates, there are a few that stand out. Joker, an abandoned and severely neglected senior gelding, is most definitely one of my favorites. When he came to the Bird Foster Farm in August of 2012, he was in rough shape and needed to feel safe and be cared for properly. Tina and Matt covered all cost (for all of our foster equines) and Lynnda and I provided the love and care. Joker was amazing, after being mistreated horribly by his previous owner, he showed me that he could trust again. He would follow me around the yard and even into the shop when I was working on the tractor or other farm equipment. He was truly one of the most deserving equines I ever had the opportunity to met. Latte, this amazing little miracle pony, came to us in 2013. She had ran through a barbed wire fence and her wounds were unattended, causing the large wound on her leg to develop phythiosis. With Lynnda being retired, she was able to treat Latte's wound 3 times a day. Last but not least, Pepe and Margarita...they were from a local farm where the owners had fallen on hard times and needed to surrender their donkeys to SWFHR. Lynnda and I fostered these two wonderful donks until Tina and Matt had room at their farm. We have since adopted 2 donkeys of our own and the joy and lots of laughter they bring us is priceless. My hat goes off to Tina and Matt for all of the hard work and dedication they have put into growing their much needed non-profit horse Rescue. Thanks to them, our local horses have a second chance in life. Looking back on just 'how' they got started, working full time FedEx jobs while running a full time horse Rescue, it just goes to show. If you want something bad enough and you are not afraid of hard work and often times, many tears, you can achieve your goals. This organization deserves your support. Visit them on Facebook for updates on the rescue equines currently in their care, special events, fundraisers and more.
When anyone ask me, "how did you first learn about SWFHR?" I have to think back to that summer day, August of 2011, when I was driving by Tina and Matt's on my way to run errands. I saw a sign advertising a Barn Sale to raise funds for their, then small and private, horse Rescue. I am actually a very shy person but I said to myself, if they are still open when I come back through, I will stop and offer a donation. Sure enough, they still had a line of vehicles down the driveway so I pulled in. I went directly to the table and pulled out my check book. After talking to one of the volunteers, helping with the sale, I was able to meet both Tina and Matt. We talked about the rescue horses currently in their care and the many more that needed them. Since they were only on 5 acres, they ask if I could possibly 'foster' some of the rescue horses that were waiting in line to come to the safety of their Rescue. I explained that I would have to speak with my husband but I was certain, it would be no problem. Tina and Matt ask if they could come visit my farm and make sure it was a safe environment for their rescue horses. We did the property check that very day and after speaking with my husband, we were on board to be their very first Foster Farm. WOW, is all I can say....we have, over the course of nearly six years, fostered a total of 16 rescue horses for Tina and Matt. I have added a few pics of some of our amazing 'foster babies'. Since this post only allows up to 4 photos, it was a tough decision as to 'who' I would feature. Cherokee, a wonderful little Paso Fino mare. Baby Girl, a very timid and untrusting QH mare. Dolce, a seizure from Animal Control in Collier county, QH gelding and last but not least, Windy, a very special little Paso Fino mare. To learn more about each of these very deserving rescue horses, please visit South West Florida Horse Rescue, Inc. I am proud to say, I have met a lot of amazing folks through this Rescue organization and have made lifetime friends. I was recently retired when I first met Tina and Matt and I honestly did not know what to do with all my free time. Well, that summer day truly changed my life and my uncertain retirement future, lets just say, I am enjoying my retirement and we always have an open gate policy with SWFHR. We continue to foster, when needed, and have felt the love and trust of many equines over the years. If you are looking for an organization to donate your time to, I strongly encourage you to give them a call, go visit, meet the babies and you too, will be hooked.
I met Tina and Matt back in 2012 when they were just starting their rescue.After many visits to their then 5 acre farm, I became involved with volunteering whenever time allowed. I even volunteered to transport several of their rescue equines,either to special events or to their new Foster Farms. I met a wonderful lady,Lynnda, through this Rescue organization. Lynnda also volunteered her time to help in any way she could,including being South West Florida Horse Rescue'a very first Foster Farm.After getting to know Lynnda over the years we became "saddle sisters' and we enjoy a common bond..... Equines. Lynnda and her husband Tim,agreed to foster a very special little Paso Fino mare,Cherokee, back in 2011.It did not take long for all of us to fall in love with this wonderful little timid baby(rescued at age 2 by SWFHR) After talking to Lynnda and Tim, I decided to call this little girl"my own" and off to training she went with our amazing trainers,Doug and Lauren Merchant. Cherokee did a 4 month program before coming home and today,we enjoy wonderful trail rides and we look forward to many more years of companionship.This Rescue organization stands out from most because of their dedication to our local horses with a "horses first" mentality. I am very proud to be part of such an amazing group of people, Matt and Tina(founders) and also the many wonderful volunteers who give of themselves to help make a difference. When you volunteer for this organization, you almost instantly become like 'family', we celebrate birthday,weddings and we offer a shoulder to one another in some bad times in our lives. If you are thinking about volunteering or donating to this organization, I highly encourage you to do so. They are truly the 'real deal'
Thanks to the Southwest Florida Horse Rescue, Tina and Matt, I was able to find my new best friend. When I first heard of the rescue, Tina, Matt, and all the volunteers there were extremely generous and helpful. I immediately fell in love with one of the baby minis they recently rescued. Braveheart was 1 of the 11 minis that were in need of help, in which, Tina and Matt took them under their wings. Braveheart was about 11 months old colt and still nursing on his mom. SWFHR rescued Braveheart and his mom first, then went back for the others. When Tina showed my mom and I around and introduced us to all the horses we instantly fell in love with Baby Braveheart. Before adoption we had to geld Braveheart, since he hasn't dropped, the SWFHR raised enough money to get Braveheart the best possible help he could get. Matt and Tina was by his side during his whole recovery.
When it was time for Braveheart to come home Matt walked the property to make sure it was definitely a safe place for the pony. He didn't leave until both Braveheart and I were comfortable. Whenever I have any questions they are there immediately to help.
But thats not all, after working with the horse rescue for a few months now they have showed me the true meaning of "who rescued who". Without them I would still have a missing piece in my heart. I am truly thankful for the above and beyond love and care that the SWFHR gives to be able to find my perfect match, Mr. Braveheart.
Tina and Matt had full time jobs when they began rescueing horses. Can you imagine getting up hours before time to go to work to feed, water, and "doctor" a few abused and neglected horses then go work 8 hours and come home to care for the horses again before fixing supper, etc and finally dropping into bed. Tina did. Every day! There are no days off when you have horses. Tina and Matt worked tirelessly getting funding to feed these horses. The way I met Tina was thru one of her online auctions for rescue funding. Incredible idea for donations! Since then I have watched the amazing growth from their home on five acres to the extraordinary forty acres of woods, trash and undergrowth they turned into the beautifully created South West Florida Horse Rescue. They have a great group of volunteers, donors, and knowledgeable horse people. SWFHR welcomes pitifully abused and starved horses, some frightened of everything and thru care and patience and expert training turn these horses into safe, trusting and rideable adoptees! SWFHR is very clean, safe and dedicated rescue facility. You have to go see it to appreciate what Tina and Matt and all the volunteers have created for the horses!
I was given Tina Garrett's name by a very close friend who knew I was in a desperate situation. My rescue Thoroughbred, Stetson, has been in danger on the island we live on. From the moment I spoke to Tina I knew we were in good hands and she inspired me so much I got on a plane the next day to go visit her, Matt and their team!!! Is it crazy to say it was "love at first site"?
They were quite eager to find out what I was all about as I jumped out of my rent a car in sparkly heels!!! We soon became quick friends and I truly can say I can trust them with my rescues life! I spent two days going to the Rescue and they spent as much time as I needed showing me around and letting me ask question after question!
Getting Stetson off an island and doing an International Transfer has not been easy to say the least and the most stressful adventure I have ever done. Tina has stood by my side and said "pull up those boot straps girl...we have a horse to save!!!!!!"
The kindness and genuine support, love of their rescues is far above and beyond what one could hope for when leaving my heart behind in someone else's hands. We are still on our journey and about half way there!
The Team will be picking Stetson and I up in Miami! Driving us to his new home, to just be a horse and allowing me to spend all the time I wish with our miracle boy! He was 600 pounds when I rescued him at 16.5 hands and now he is 1400 pounds. He is 800 pounds to the healthier and the smartest boy out there.
With their help, Stetson has been awarded a new start to Life. A life every Horse should be allowed to have:) He has made me a better person and now with Tina's help he is going to help so very many more!
Support this great team!!! Support their rescues!! THEY ARE WORTH IT!!! They truly are THE REAL DEAL!!!
Dr. Nicolle Schultze
My saddle sister and I went to the South West Florida Horse Rescue, Inc to go to a Mark Rashid, Considering The Horse Clinic which we go to every year in Florida. We found out that there would be one very close to our home so we decided to try out a new place. We did not know what to expect and actually did not expect too much at all, just in case it was not that great of a place. The women first of all where on the ball and communicated beautifully and helped with anything they could to accommodate before we even arrived. When we did we were extremely happy to see such a beautifully well kept, clean and happy environment for the horses!. The first thing out of the Manager Darcy's mouth was let's get your horses happy first then we will get you girls going. Well that did it right there, BOOM! Let's take care of the horses first!! From then on it was stellar!! The President Tina Garret was in the background taking care of everything, she is a work horse! Eileen Coe, coordinated all the riders and made everything go as smooth as silk, incredibly kind! The property had plenty of room for all the horses and guess what, their horses at the facility were HAPPY!!! You usually do not see that at a rescue around here. They had so many volunteers helping and they were so friendly! I will recommend this Rescue to anyone and everyone! We will be back next next and found a new home at South West Florida Horse Rescue!! Do not be hesitant to help with this team in anyway!
it seems like as soon as the horses arrive at the rescue they know they are sake. Tina and Matt have made such a difference in so many horses lives and mine come check out the amazing work we do...
I personally can't say enough about South West Florida Horse rescue! They are truly a passionate and caring group of people ( every one of them) You instantly feel the love they have for each one of these precious horses the moment you drive onto the property. Friendly and sociable volunteers who will greet you with a smile and answer every question you might have.
I have know this Wonderful group of people for a few years and have developed a close friendship with our common love of Rescue.
My daughter has a horse and each time she would trail ride, she would ask me to go with her. So me, not having a horse, would walk behind her..lol Silly I know. Well after a few times of "following her" , I prayed That if it was meant to be, that God would bring the right horse into our lives. Since It was for me . it had to be a easy going, sweet horse...
Well, GOD had a plan.....A few weeks later , The Rescue took in a beautiful Mare by the name of "Winnie" . I saw her picture posted on their Facebook Page and had to inquire on her. I contacted Tina who suggested for me to come meet her. That very next day I was at the rescue.
She was totally Beautiful and had such a sweet personality. Needless to say that's where her story began as a new member of our family. xox
Winnie had some minor issues with her feet and previously had a cancerous tumor removed from her face. So I was prepared to learn everything i could about her treatment to get her to where she was physically back to that perfect horse.
Matt & Tina taught me how to do everything so I would be familiar with her care. In fact when they realized her feet need some attention they had x-rays taken, which I was invited be apart of. Was able to ask the vet any question I had about her treatment and know what to expect. .
Prior to adoption, I was able to go out to the rescue as much as I wanted, to spend time with Winnie and start the bonding process . Tina was always just a text away..
Now Winnie Has a Sister by the name of Goldie and they are truly the bonded pair. It's so nice to see the Happy Every After for this Girl!
Whats unique with this Rescue is that we weren't just adding Winnie to our family, but also becoming part of the South West Florida Family!! xoxoxox
As the Founder of South West Florida Horse Rescue, I have had the pleasure of experiencing this organization grow from two ordinary people on 5 acres, to two extraordinary people, with lots of amazing volunteers, on 40 acres. From being able to rescue only 2 horses at a time, to being able to rescue 12 horses at a time. With so many rescue equines coming through our gates, all with their very own past, their own history of pain and suffering and their own heart/soul and will to live, it is hard to pick just 'one' to write my review on but, I have chosen baby Trooper. Mainly because he, not only touched our hearts, he also won the hearts of all who followed his courageous journey at our horse Rescue. Trooper was rescued in January of 2015, severely malnourished, full of worms, burrs embedded in his coat and skin, hooves so long he tripped over them when he walked and of course he was a stud colt. (intact) When Trooper arrived at our Rescue, his new journey in life began. Our veterinarian was out to do his initial exam and get him on a healthy diet, give us expert advice on safely getting rid of all of the worms that infested his tiny body and of course, schedule his gelding procedure. Trooper blossomed in our care and won the hearts of all who followed him on Facebook and all who had the privilege of meeting him in person. Once he was healthy, he went on to his training program with our trainers, and soon, he was under saddle and hitting the trails. I had the opportunity to ride Trooper on a few trail rides and I can tell you, many times my eyes would swell up with tears as we walked along the trails together. To think, this little matted mess was considered a 'throw away' in the eyes of his heartless owners and to see him now, in all his glory, makes me one proud rescuer. Thank you to all who support our non-profit charitable organization, without folks like you, we would not be able to save the lives of our local horses to the degree that we do. Trooper was adopted in July of 2016, happy ending for sure.
This is a fantastic rescue. They have their heads on straight and make sure each equine is provided for above and beyond. They are welcoming and supportive.
Bella was one of the first to be rescued. When my husband and I saw her picture that was sent to me we knew we must get her and care for her and give her a forever home. When I brought her home she was so unhappy and sad, but you could see in her eyes that all she wanted was to be loved and fed some food. We have had her since the very first day and we love her and she gives us back more love than we could ever imagine. She is still very shy of people but she trusts only the ones that give her a carrot...she loves treats. The reason we love Bella is because when I look in her eyes, I see hope, dreams and the wonder of love. When I touch Bella, I feel joy and serenity, When she walks beside me, we connect with our souls. When I am with Bella, I am who I am meant to be...There is a saying "who rescued who?" I ask that everyday when I look in Bella 's eyes and we both say thank you to each other.
I have always had a passion for horses. When I came across SWFHR , I was hooked. I feel honored that I was accepted as a volunteer. It is truly an amazing place full of love for all of the rescues. In your travels , stop by ! If he has time Matt will give you a history on how it all started. The work that both Tina and Matt continue to do in order to further provide to the needs of these great animals is exemplary. They deserve accolades . Please donate to keep their dream going strong.
SWFHR is a very special place. Tina Garrett and Matt Venaleck had a dream to create a safe haven for neglected, abused, and abandoned horses and donkeys. With no paid employees and all volunteers that dream is coming true. From the first day my husband and I visited the rescue we knew we had found an endeavor we wanted to be a part of. We have seen horses come through the gates sick, starving, frightened and hopeless. Under the loving care of all at the rescue they begin to get better and hope returns to their eyes. We are proud and grateful to be a part of SWFHR.
I have followed this organization since first learning of it, and could not be more impressed with their true caring and help for local horses in need. They have a large volunteer base with wonderfully dedicated people who help with everything from grooming to fund raisers. I have seen before and after pictures of horses they have helped and their knowledge and persistence are exceptional. They are very careful to make sure that any horse adopted from their facility is a true match and forever home. I could not recommend becoming involved with this worthwhile organization any more highly. Matt and Tina are the very best of the best!
I have fostered mulitple horses over the past 4 years and have also adopted. I can't say enough about the owners who put these horses before themselves on a daily basis.
having been part of SWFHR since the beginning I'll say most will have a hard time finding fault in the passionately driven operators and volunteers that service this SW Florida charity. The commitance to mission is a high priority with this horse rescue as well as seek a higher level of community involvement.
I have volunteered for SWFHR for a little over 2 years now. It's kinda of a family affair. My husband and I are usually the ones organizing the food for events and my mom helps out where ever she is needed. Tina and Matt give everything they have to provide for the equines that are in their care and for that we are more than willing to help in any way that we can. SWFHR is truly made up of great people, amazing horses, and a couple cute donkeys! I would recommend that if you ever have time that you stop by and check them out!