Home News From the desk of Nealia McCracken 11/18/15 :

From the desk of Nealia McCracken 11/18/15 :

From the desk of Nealia McCracken;

Recently several of the directors and volunteers at Saddlebred Rescue Inc. have been discussing how to deal with the horrific news out of Virginia related to a severe animal cruelty case that ended the lives of many horses and other animals that were being cared for by a horse rescue and retirement center.  Our first thoughts went to the animals who suffered, then we questioned ourselves as to how we could communicate with our supporters, donors, volunteers and others that this risk would never happen at Saddlebred Rescue Inc.  How do we assure them?  How do we make sure our supporters have confidence in us at Saddlebred Rescue Inc. and our operations?    

Unfortunately the business of animal rescue is not a regulated activity, there are no minimum requirements, no one at an animal rescue to our knowledge has to demonstrate their ability to care for and handle animals.  In our opinion in addition to handling the animals a well run rescue has to be run like a business.  You need someone at the rescue make sure the organization maintains its nonprofit and/or tax exempt status, adoption documents and other forms needs to be reviewed, insurance often is needed, how do you fund the rescue, how do you budget, etc.   That just scratches the surface and there is so much more to consider like facilities, workers and volunteers, equipment, supplies, a feeding program and the list goes on.  

We are not sure how Anne Goland, (also known as Ann Shumate) at Peaceable Farm was organized or what her practices were but she is due to appear in Orange County court on Nov. 18 as recent reports note.  What we have read is that she is currently facing 27 counts of animal neglect stemming from an Oct. 19 raid of her Somerset, Virginia property, called Peaceable Farm.  The raid of her property found six dead horses, among the many other dead animal animals including dogs, cats, donkeys and chickens.  Five additional horses had to be euthanized and 80 additional horses were removed and placed in foster care.  How could this happen?  At this point we can only speculate but this type of news gives the rescue effort in general a bad name.  

My first thought was to do a monthly video tour of the property pointing out the quarantine area, the rescue village and the several pastures that houses the near 40 rescues currently in residence.  Once we do the video we will share it on our social media.  We will update the video monthly.      It is important to me that we go above and beyond to video the horses and property so that the followers of SBR can see for themselves how well cared for our horses are.   Maybe you are not aware but Saddlebred Rescue Inc in New Jersey is located on part of North Wind Stables property and the horses that are in the rescue program are very easily and frequently seen by MANY people. On a daily basis North Wind customers, our hay, grain and shavings vendors, UPS and Fed Ex drivers not to mention our vet are at the farm on a weekly basis and sometimes more often. All of our operation is in plain sight.

In our 10 year history in the rescue business we have seen many examples of how to operate and how not to operate.  There are rescues that claim they are non profit and have 501c3 status but operate a for-profit operation or are not actually registered.  To our knowledge a rescue does not need to be registered if they are self funded and do not seek donations or funding.   Other horse rescues operate off of the internet and barely handle or work with the horses they place into adoption or they sell out right through an intermediary.  While this does provide visibility of horses in need it in no way assures that the horses find a new safe place.  We have seen many shortcomings in this approach and early on we decided at Saddlebred Rescue that the only way to do right by the horses that we save is that we handle the horses through the whole process and provide a safety net in the case the adopting party cannot keep a horse from our program.   In these models it is donor or supporter beware.  You have to do your due diligence before you jump in with a rescue that you do not know first-hand.  There is one quick check you can do with any non profit that you support and that is go to  www.guidestar.org  and do a search.  You may have to become a member on the website if you want to review 990 tax returns of a charity to see how the donation money is spent.  At minimum you should be able to see if any non profit is registered, is a tax exempt 501c3 and/or if they are in compliance. 

In the early years Saddlebred Rescue Inc. sought out grants for different projects with the ASPCA.  They have a rigorous process to apply for grants that even includes site visits.  Yes the ASPCA has been on site at the rescue in New Jersey.  Through our relationship with the ASPCA we learned about the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries or GFAS.  GFAS is an organization that is trying to establish a minimum operating guideline for best practices in the animal rescue business that outsiders can rely on if the rescue reaches a point to become a verified or accredited member of GFAS.  The ASCPA is supporting this effort in the rescue world to simplify their operation and review process to separate the rescues that merit financial support from others that fall short.  We at Saddlebred Rescue Inc decided immediately that being a member of GFAS was exactly what we needed to do and it coincided with the high operating standards we had already set for our group.  It was important to us to be officially recognized by a watch group like GFAS.   After a lengthy application process, review and inspections Saddlebred Rescue became a verified member of GFAS in 2011.  To connect what GFAS represents in face of the news such as the pending Virginia case take a look at the cover story on their website at www.sanctuaryfederation.org/gfas/latest-news/gfas-certified-equine-facilities-accept-horses-from-failed-virginia-rescue-farm/

The news on the Virginia rescue hit home for me when I noticed a Saddlebred  in an article written by a rescue on saving  thoroughbreds from  the Virginia rescue that mentioned a Saddlebred that was put in a stall and starved so badly that the vet had to put him down.   The article stated the registered name of the gelding and that is why I remembered this horse as he had an odd name. Quite frankly, this made me sick.  I KNOW the rescue that raised the money to "save" this horse. It was important to them to save a younger horse from going on the road.   This rescue would never intentionally put any of their horses in danger, but even in a rescue to rescue placement it can be easy to send a horse to a less than ethical home unknowingly.   Saddlebred Rescue Inc didn't place any horses with this rescue and retirement center in Virginia. This would not be part of our program. I would have to say that it has been a challenge for us to not only find qualified homes but to also monitor the homes after the horses have left us and I wish we had a perfect record.   One thing for sure when we find holes in our placement system we work hard to modify our process to help reduce errors in placement. 

Over the past couple weeks this case has been a major topic in my world as it should be.  Cruelty and neglect have long lingering aftershocks and one of the worst is that it can create a skeptical public and supporter.   I totally get that.   With all that said, I do not want  Saddlebred Rescue Inc. to mistakenly be lumped in with the underbelly of what animal rescue shows us from time to time.  We are not them.  We are different and here’s how.  

  • We are transparent.  We invite you to come visit us at Saddlebred Village and see our facilities.  
  • The horses we rescue are professionally evaluated for as long as it takes to make sure that our matches with new families stick.  Our word is good, if the horse doesn’t work out for you, we will take it back.  We don’t just immediately place a horse.  We are careful.  Our priority is to find a good home. No we try to find great homes.  If we haven’t found it, the horse stays here on the farm.
  • Our evaluation system’s main priority is to determine suitability.  If you are looking for a trail horse, that is what we want to get you.  If you’re in need of a lesson horse, then that is what we focus on.
  • Our application process may seem cumbersome, but if you don’t have the patience to get through that, you don’t have the patience or the commitment to maybe have one of these animals.  It is the interest of the horse we put first.
  • Our adoption fees are reasonable, but if an adopting party does not have $850 + shipping, the choice to adopt a horse should be re-considered.  Horses can be a big commitment.
  • To date we have placed 900+ horses with minimal recidivism.
  • Our rescue horses eat the same hay and grain as the show horses on the property. We do not treat them as second class citizens.  (Most that come in require a lot of groceries and we provide that.)  We also worm and vaccinate the rescue horses on the same schedule as the show horses.  We also float teeth and trim feet and pull shoes as appropriate.

All of these points are important to saving the lives of innocent animals who are in real danger of falling through the cracks.  Our adoption process may seem rigorous but we feel it needs to be this way for our operation to be sustainable for the long run.  When something like what happened in Somerset, VA happens, it hurts us all.  Saddlebred Rescue Inc. provides a last chance for innocent horses.  

We invite you to visit us at our farm in New Jersey and take a tour of the rescue operations.  We welcome your visit and your interest. Please call ahead to make sure someone will be at the facility to meet you. You can contact us by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call the hotline at 908 605 6032.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this which has been weighing on me and the interest in the future of Saddlebred Rescue Inc.