GARP Action Team Helps Iron Gait Percherons Draft Horse Rescue

On Saturday, May 19 we went to Iron Gait Percherons Rescue with GARP (Georgia Animal Rights and Protection) for a volunteer day of action. Iron Gait is a horse rescue located on 35 acres in Cherokee County in Georgia. Their mission is to save as many horses from neglect and abuse as possible. They rehabilitate these beautiful and majestic beings, both physically and emotionally, and when possible find loving forever homes for them.

GARP went to Iron Gait to lend a hand to Denise Pomydor, who runs the farm. She essentially single-handedly cares for the 60 or so horses who have been rescued by her. She cleans the stables, brushes and tends the horses, feeds them, sees to their veterinary care and works with prospective new homes for them, when and if they are able to go. Some of them have been so badly abused that they cannot be placed, but Denise provides them a safe, loving place home to live out their lives. The GARP volunteers helped with cleaning the stables, clearing branches from a new pasture area and doing minor repairs including putting a fresh coat of stain on the stables. After the work was done, the volunteers got to spend some time interacting with the horses.

Many of the horses at Iron Gait were purchased at auctions, in order to save them from being sent to slaughter. Most of them are emaciated, ill or injured when they arrive at the farm and require extensive veterinary care, all of which is funded by donations. In addition to individual horses, they recently saved an entire herd of 23 from a backyard breeder. After hearing about the condition of the horses, Denise went to assess the situation. They were all extremely emaciated and neglected and the breeder told her if she didn’t take all of them, they would be sent to slaughter. She was able to raise enough money to buy all 23 from him; and yes, he required that she buy them. One of them was pregnant, and 9 weeks ago, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, named Picasso. He is the first horse born on at Iron Gait and will be a permanent resident, living his entire life knowing nothing but love, which is a pretty beautiful thing.

Another of their recent rescues is Randolph, a former carriage horse here in Atlanta. You can watch a truly moving video of his rescue here. The carriage horse industry is remarkably cruel, preventing the horses from engaging in the natural behavior they need to be healthy, such as grazing. The conditions in which they live are deplorable and heartbreaking. They rely solely on the carriage operators to provide adequate food and water, which all too often doesn’t happen. Forced to walk on paved roads, many carriage horses have severe problems with their hooves. They are at constant risk of being hit by cars and many have suffered serious injury and death as a result of careless or impatient drivers. If there is a carriage horse industry in your city, please, do what you can to help these horses, who are treated as throwaways.

Iron Gait relies heavily on volunteer help. Please visit their website and volunteer if you can. There are orientations for new volunteers the first and third Saturday of each month. If you are unable to volunteer, please help with a donation. There is a special drive right now for a horse named BeBe who needs surgery due to the neglect from her previous home. She is such a sweet girl and was the most affectionate horse we met, rubbing her face against visitors’ faces and standing so close, you had to watch your toes. If you volunteer to help out at the farm, you’ll have a chance to meet some of these gorgeous, remarkable horses and the warmth you’ll carry with you from them will make everything seem right in the world.

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