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.
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.
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.
I started volunteering with Gentle Giants almost a year ago. It started as a once a week gig but quickly turned into going as often as I could find the time, I can't imagine the past year of my life without GG in it. The horses are extremely well loved and cared for and volunteers are given the opportunity to learn from the staff and owner of GG - expanding handling experience for so many volunteers often allows for more of these rescued horses to receive the hands on time they need. Its hard to stay away from this place once you've been part of the magic, both the horses and the people steal your heart.
I have been volunteering with Gentle Giants since March of this year. I have found this organization to be a very welcoming and hard working group of people. I have experienced other rescues and GG has been the most rewarding group to spend my weekends with. The rescue is always eager to teach and include the volunteers in every part of the horses new life; from selection at the auction, rehabilitation, training, and adoption. They encourage all of their volunteers to be aware of why each horse has come to the rescue and what they have to offer as a future pet to another household. They are very honest with potential adopters about what each horse is, or is not capable of. It's about finding the right match with the new owner, not just about getting the horses out the door. The support received from the staff at GG makes the experience that much more rewarding for the volunteers, it really makes us feel as if we are making a difference in these horses lives. The truth is those horses are making a difference in each of our lives.
Been volunteering for several years, and the level of caring and knowledge never fails to impress. Staff is dedicated and generous with their time, donations are put to good use.
I came across GGDHR at the MD Horse Expo in January 2012. It took me seven months to be brave enough to come out and volunteer. They are wonderful to work with. I have a disability and they are very willing to work with me and my service dog so I can still help them and feel important. Working with the other volunteers and barn manager is wonderful. We all get along. They encourage volunteers to work with the horses and prepare them for their new perspective adopter(s). As we work with the horses, I've noticed more novice volunteers become much more experienced horsemen/women and helps us all run smoothly. I even have gotten attached with an inexperienced PMU draft cross rescue and was allowed to assist in its training with their trainer.
I came to this rescue looking for a place that I could help and make a difference in. Many rescues limit volunteers to jobs that don't include interaction with the horses. At Gentle Giants, volunteers help with the basic barn work, but can also spend time with the horses to form a bond with any of them. We all have a favorite that we like to catch and groom and give treats to. Many people ask if we ride the horses. The answer to that is riding is an option for horses that are sound, and are safe to ride. A riding evaluation is done beforehand to place the rider with an acceptable horse for their experience. The horse care is the top priority there, as it should be. Adoptions are done carefully to make sure that the horse and adopter are a good match. The homes are checked to make sure everything is suitable for the horse. Afterwards, periodic checks are made to make sure the horse remains healthy. The process keeps the horses safe and healthy, since that's the ultimate goal. All of these extra things make Gentle Giants a more hands on and enjoyable rescue to volunteer at. I love volunteering every weekend and enjoying the horses and the friendly people. I've been volunteering here for a year now, and still going strong! Come out and volunteer and you'll see what I mean.
I have recently starting volunteering and LOVE it. I'm not very experienced and every person I have come across is very helpful and loves being at the farm. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner! Funny how things change when you get older. If you're looking for good people and a good cause. Come on down to the farm! Christine the ower has a heart of gold. Cheryl Curran
I have been volunteering at this organization for about a year and a half or so, and I honestly could not live without it! Not only are the people there great, but you get a hands on experience working with the horses. Gentle Giants offers opportunities for everyone. Also, the staff always answers any questions you have about the rescues or horses. Finally, Gentle Giants is a very welcoming. When you volunteer at this rescue you have someone too give you direction without being micromanaged all the time. You feel like you are very important to the rescue, and not like you are reporting to work.
Having volunteered at another horse rescue in Washington State for severla years, I knew what I wanted in my next rescue from both the standpoint of the care of the horses and the volunteer opportunities. Both of those are tops at Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. What I also found at GGDHRS was a sincere and deep commitment to the well-being of their rescue horses that is provided for the rest of their life. Whether the horses were placed, stayed or were returned they always have a "home" and an adovcate in Gentle Giants. Given the financial challenges and uncertainty that we are faced with in today's world that is a really special gift and blessing to these worthy animals.
I have volunteered at Gentle Giants since 2009 and I can attest that their #1 priority is the horses. In recent years we have gotten a lot of “returns,” which is both good and bad–good for the horse because it is guaranteed a home for its entire life, but occasionally bad for its prospects of re-adoption. I can understand if an adopter returns a horse because of circumstances out of his/her control–losing a job in the bad economy, debilitating injury, etc. However, I have less sympathy for those who dump their adopted horses back to us after they have become lame and unrideable, or after their fear of 2000-lb animals/ ignorance of training and sometimes ignorance of the NEED for training (yes, even for that feathered lawn ornament) creates a rude, nervous, or even dangerous 2000-lb monster that is MUCH more difficult to rehome, especially since many of our adopters want easy, comfortable trail horses.
Gentle Giants is dealing with this problem in a way that puts the needs of the horse first. Their motto is: Rescue, Rehab, Retrain, Rehome, and they do put equal focus on each of these areas. They have rehabbed several starvation cases up to healthy weights, including a 30+ year old Belgian mare and ten of the Canterbury Arabians (they will take in non-drafts occasionally). They also invest a substantial amount of time and money in putting training on unbroke horses and ones with behavior problems. Those with severe behavior/fear problems have a home at the rescue for as long as it takes. As for “rehome,” the rescue does its best to make safe and responsible matches of horses and adopters. Green+green= black and blue, and Gentle Giants does their best to assure forever homes.
This is an amazing rescue that is devoted to helping any mostly draft horses but any horse in need. As i volunteer and intern with the vet who handles most of the work done there, this rescue is willing to do whatever it takes to get their their horses healthy and happy. The people involved with this rescue are extremely friendly and i have enjoying doing both horse related activities with them and non horse activities. I too agree with others who have posted that the amount of work that goes into running this rescue is astonishing. What i also admire about this rescue is that they have on numerous occasion reached out and helped other rescues in need to ensure horses in need get help. In addition they are personally invested in each horse they rescue and want to find the perfect home for them, so they are very honest about the type of home each horse requires. They want the horse to have a forever home so they match up the type of riding the adopter wants to do, and the riders true abilities, with a horse that will suit their needs.
This rescue is such a gift to the horses they care for. The horses are so well loved and treated with respect. My experience as a volunteer has been fantastic. The amount of work that goes into just one day at Gentle Giants is enough to make your head spin. The health of the horses is the most important part of rescue and there is no lack of proper health care at GG. All the needs of the horses in their care are seen to on a regular basis. The farrier visits. The vet is on speed dial. The dedication of a few main volunteers makes this rescue what it is. The founders don't take no for an answer when it comes to the welfare of the large number of horses in their charge. I've never seen anything like it. The dedication of this rescue to the animals they save is what makes Gentle Giants such a special place. One volunteer said to me, "This is my favorite place on Earth. I even spent my birthday here." Well done, Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. You are what good horse rescues aspire to be.
I have been volunteering at GGDHR for about a year & a half now. They are dear friends & have become like family. I love how we do a lot of training with the horses & getting them out & about (showing, camping, trail riding, etc). This makes the horses very well exposed & thus more appealing to potential adopters. We take in such a variety of cases that I have been able to gain even more horse experience. I also love this rescue because they want to help all horses, not just theirs. When my old Percheron was sick (for 2 months) and eventually passed away, the rescue was always there to help & support Magnum & I. It didn't matter what time of day or night, they showed up to help do anything they could. Magnum was the love of my life & they helped me during the hardest time of my life and got me through my time of awful grief after he passed. They are truly wonderful people & I am forever grateful to GGDHR!!!!
I first heard about Gentle Giants back early in 2008. I'd been looking for a horse rescue where I could volunteer and they seemed like a pretty cool choice, since they focused on draft horses. I ended up volunteering there for right at three years (would still be there, but moved out of state, so now I just support them from afar :) ).
Gentle Giants is one of the most amazing, well-run, caring rescues I've had the privilege of knowing. Everyone there truly cares about doing right by the horses, their adoption fees are more than reasonable, and EVERY horse gets rehabilitated, evaluated, and retrained. They do their best to accurately describe the horses in their care and match them up with the best potential home.
The facilities are safe and well-tended with happy, friendly horses.
They're very cognizant of doing wisely with donations, this is NOT a rescue that begs for funds to feed the horses every week!
Volunteers and visitors are both welcome, and that's a great thing, too. Some rescues I've seen don't tend to welcome visitors but someone at Gentle Giants always seems to make the time to greet a visitor and introduce them to the horses or make a new volunteer feel welcome.