Hope Equine Rescue Celebrates Ribbon Cutting In Winter Haven
As seen in Winter Haven Daily Print Publication
by James Coulter
Approximately 6,000 to 10,000 horses are housed by rescue services at any given time in America, according to data by the Unwanted Horse Coalition. One such rescue in Winter Haven is doing its part to ensure that their horses are given a good home.
Located in Winter Haven, Equine Hope Rescue operates a 10-acre ranch where it keeps at-risk horses and donkeys of all breeds and sizes, taking care of them and helping them find a good and loving home.
The organization had been in operation for nearly a decade. Upon outgrowing its original Auburndale farm, they moved to a new location off of Dundee Road in Winter Haven, where they currently house 40 horses.
Having been at their new location for more than a year, Equine Hope Rescue celebrated its ribbon cutting last Thursday during an open house hosted by the Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce. Guests could take a tour of the facility, as well as enjoy light refreshments and participate within raffle drawings.
Dani Horton, President of Equine Hope Rescue, has been raising horses with her family all of her life, and has been a breeder and national competitor for several years. Nearly a decade ago, her family had been contacted by concern citizens about horses that were mistreated and need of a new home.
“I started doing some research, and found that there was no place in this area for those horses to go,” she said. “There wasn’t anything here to take care of those horses that were unwanted or abused or neglected. So I think I would do a horse rescue.”
Her rescue started with a couple horses, and now currently takes care of nearly 40 horses. Helping her organization are a dedicated team of 180 volunteers, all of whom go above and beyond to help care for the horses. All of their operations are funded through private donations, with no state or federal government funding.
“We have an amazing team,” she said. “We work really, really hard to do the best that we can for the horses in our community…We take the resources that we have, and utilize the best that we can with them, so I am glad that you are done with us tonight, to see what you do, to see our team, and see our horse.”
Many of the horses at their facility are sent to them through the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Sometimes these horses are lost or abandoned, while other times they are retrieved through a criminal case, explained Deputy Sheriff Laurie Smith.
Without Hope Equine Rescue, these horses would be placed in auction. By taking in these at-risk horses and helping find them new homes, the rescue provides a valuable service to the local community, Smith said.
“Dani is always accommodating and takes in the horses that we take in, whether it is a criminal case or a lose animal or just an abandoned animal,” she said. “The program is absolutley amazing, and we really appreciate everything equine does for Polk County.”
Helping ensure that these horses get a second chance is Adoption Director Cat Madden. She goes through the applications to ensure that the homes and horses are right for one another, she said.
Whenever they receive horses from the Sheriff’s Office, the animals are often underweight and mistreated with severe issues. Fortunately, her organization helps take good care of them to make sure they are healthy once again and ready for adoption.
“I love it all,” she said. “I love coming out here to clean the stalls, and water buckets so the horses have clean stalls to stand in, also the grooming aspect, training, and also contacting the people who are looking to adopt them. We have a nice facility that is unbelievable, it is awesome.”
Hope Equine Rescue is located at 3805 High St NE, Winter Haven, FL 33881. For more information, call 863-287-7503, or visit their website at: https://hopeequinerescue.com/