Since 2003 Eagle Hill Equine Rescue has found wonderful, loving homes for over 1,000 horses. Their mission is to, "To provide a safe, loving environment for any horse, but especially rescued newborn, weanling and yearling horses that would otherwise fall into the wrong hands."
Foals and young horses they rescue find "everlasting" homes where they can live their lives as happy partners and family members, are the byproducts of a sub-industry in the Thoroughbred Racing world known as "Nurse Mare Foals."
|Nurse Mare Foals arriving at Eagle Hill from Kentucky-Every sweet baby here was adopted into loving homes,|
What is a Nurse Mare Foal? "These are foals that are orphaned, by design, and are in need of being rescued as young as 4 days old. Their natural mothers are leased out as 'wet nurses' or 'surrogate mothers' to support the newly born Thoroughbred foals, and at times foals that have lost their mothers, or are rejected foals. This practice allows the Thoroughbred mares to be immediately sent to breeding farms to be rebred to produce yet another foal for the racing industry." Explains Annie Delp, Executive Director of Eagle Hill Equine Rescue a non-profit organization.
|Jubilee was the "Nurse Mare Foal" in the picture above second from the front - here she is all grown up with her owner, Hanna|
Other rescues are mares and foals from Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) farms. In fact it was the suffering of PMU mares and foals that first caused Annie to hear the calling to open a rescue when she learned 12 PMU mares, due to deliver in a few weeks needed immediate rescue from slaughter in 2003. She and her husband, Steve, welcomed them to their 43 acre farm they'd purchased just months earlier to fulfill Steve's dream of building a golf course. Those PMU mares, their soon to be born babies, and their 5 personal horses, (3 they'd just recently adopted), gave birth to a new life's direction from golf to helping to save and change lives in both humans and horses.
The spirit at Eagle Hill is one of helping, healing and changing lives. Over the years more horses found refuge, shelter, healing and new beginnings under the watchful eyes and tender care of Annie, Steve, and the growing numbers of devoted volunteers, as new avenues of helping became obvious.
Support has grown, and with it more opportunities to help within their community. Horizons, a day program for mentally challenged adults visits weekly, and children with special needs are always welcome to visit with Eagle Hill's mascot minis Sampson and Delilah, who also visit pre-schools, local events, and nursing homes. Eagle Hill also supports scouting activities and 4H groups, and helps teach safety, the joy of volunteering, and the responsibility of pet owners to give love and proper care to their pets.
|Eagle Hill Birthday Party with Sampson & Delilah|
They also welcome quite a few Off The Track Thoroughbreds horses. "They are easily adoptable after a bit or re-training and many have gone on to show, while others are enjoying a life of leisure being loved and enjoying trail rides." Annie explained. This led to another new avenue of ways to help and change lives. Re-training the retired race horses has allowed many individuals to experience the fun of learning along with the horses.
"We are blessed to have a wonderful volunteer trainer here 4 days a week and Jeff has created a group of High School and College aged riders who are learning natural training methods. And once trained they are ridden around the farm by his students and adults who are once again entering in the equine world. Hundreds of school age children are accumulating Community Service hours for school and college applications. We currently have 6 former volunteers who are attending college to study to become Veterinarians and 3 others who are finishing their Medical Degrees." Said Annie.
|Mouse loaded and ready to head out for his new "Everlasting Home."|
Serving those who serve our country has always been a priority to Annie. Her father and husband both retired from the Army. Annie serves at Arlington National Cemetery attending Army funerals once a month, and both she and Steve volunteer for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Introducing Wounded Warriors to horses, or encouraging former riders to realize that disabilities can be overcome and their lives with horses has not been limited by their disability, is paramount in their overall recovery. Not all injuries are obvious and the healing that horses provide is priceless.
Eagle Hill continues to grow in knowledge and remains one of the larger equine rescues on the east coast. "Many of our happy adopted horses leave Virginia for their new homes throughout the East Coast." Annie said. "We currently have about 50 horses up for adoption, ranging from Drafts, Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses to pony size horses that make ideal first horses for children."
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry