At 20, Horse Haven still passionate about aiding abused, neglected equine

Tom KingFarragut

“God made the horse from the breath of the wind, the beauty of the earth and the soul of an angel.” – Author unknown

Funny and odd things happen in these lives we live. Some people say, “There are no coincidences.” Maybe not.

A few weeks ago the Rotary Club of Farragut – myself included – made three new friends who are the mainstays at Horse Haven of Tennessee. Our speaker was attorney Hillary Raubach, president of Horse Haven’s board of directors. We also heard from Jocelyn Smith, the equine manager at Horse Haven, and Colleen Gregory, a member of their board.

Horse Haven is a nonprofit with a mission built around the “Three R’s” – Rescue, Rehabilitate and Re-home. As they say on their website, “… Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home God’s neglected or abused equine through programs of shelter, adoption, education and assistance.”

While I was doing some reading on a completely unrelated topic a week or so after their presentation, the quote at the beginning of this piece popped before my eyes. My thoughts immediately took me back to that Rotary meeting. We didn’t know much about Horse Haven then, but we do now. They do what they say they do.

Four weeks ago, Horse Haven had 37 horses in its barn at a 16-acre Lenoir City farm that it leases (at 2477 Ford Road, Lenoir City, TN 37772). Today they have 24 horses there. In the past four weeks they have adopted out 13 horses – horses that were abused, malnourished, mistreated and abandoned. It is hard work, and Horse Haven does it with a paid staff of only four and a cadre of 100 or so volunteers. “But this is why we do what we do,” Raubach said. The tone of her voice was filled with joy.

Dogs and cats are family members. So are horses. Do not think otherwise.

Horses in Tennessee that are neglected or abused usually end up at Horse Haven – the state’s only nonprofit equine rescue rehabilitation facility. Horse Haven of Tennessee opened its barn doors in 1999, and since then it has cared for and rehabilitated more than 1,200 horses. The organization assists law-enforcement officials by transporting and caring for horses that are seized during criminal-abuse and neglect cases.

Raubach showed us an informational and inspirational video – “Every Little Girl Needs a Horse.” She said that Tennessee is in the top five states in the U.S. for horse population. Horse Haven works with law-enforcement agencies, social-service organizations and even veterinarians and always goes to pick up the horses wherever they are located in the state.

Here are some fast facts about Horse Haven:

  • It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
  • Their two major expenses are vet care and feed.
  • Some of their horses end up at STAR (Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding) as therapy horses.
  • There are approximately 190,000 unwanted horses in the United States.

Raubach said they are always looking for individuals and families to adopt the horses. The adoption fee runs between $250 and $1,000. They also need volunteers to handle a variety of jobs.

One caveat – they do not accept horses from individuals or families that simply want to get rid of their horses. They are about rescuing and rehabilitating, not boarding horses. “Our resources are used to fulfill our mission, which is working with law enforcement and state agriculture investigators to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home abused and neglected horses. We do not have the resources or space to take in owner surrenders,” Raubach said.

Horse Haven is in what Raubach calls “a time of transition.” They are quietly searching for a new executive director and also looking for a new and permanent home. “We need a bigger barn, and we’d love to have a farm with a minimum of 30 acres and good grass for the horses,” she said.

One more note: July 22, 2019, will be the agency’s 20th anniversary.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or donating to Horse Haven, please call them at 865-609-4030, email them or visit their website.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in Farragut Rotary, drop me an email. We meet at 12:15 p.m. each Wednesday at Fox Den Country Club. You also can call me at 865-659-3562.

 Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California. He started writing for KnoxTNToday in 2017.

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