Equine Rescue of Aiken
Services: Sanctuary, Rehabilitation, Adoption, Equine-Assisted
Location: Aiken, SC
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 30
Located in the heart of South Carolina’s famed horse country, Equine Rescue of Aiken is a pastoral, liminal space for retired Thoroughbreds and unwanted or neglected horses. Established in 2006, the mostly volunteer-run operation has adopted over 1,500 horses, many of them at-risk before arriving at the rescue and in need of a new home.
Equine Rescue of Aiken works with racetracks to identify and acquire horses that are no longer competitive or have sustained career-ending injuries in order to repurpose them for second careers in forever homes.
The organization is one of the largest horse rescue centers in the southeastern United States. Its 90 acres include rehab and quarantine paddocks and large rolling pastures for the horses to roam. Even though the facility suffered from a devastating fire in spring 2021, it is still operating and doing it better than ever before.
At any given time, the organization is home to 50 to 60 horses of all breeds and backgrounds – from ex-racehorses to former polo ponies to retired draft horses. Although those numbers dropped a bit during the pandemic, the adoption numbers have not, and Equine Rescue of Aiken is placing just as many as before. The organization has only two staff members and an abundance of volunteers united by their desire to care for the horses and their passion to do meaningful work.
Equine Rescue of Aiken is embarking on its 16-year anniversary and is celebrating with a capital campaign to help raise funds to rebuild the barn lost to fire, with plans to start building in late 2022. There has been an emphasis on the organization’s social mission by growing the veteran and active military programs as well as creating fun, educational children’s programs that connect with the community. Active educational workshops, youth volunteer days, and school visits throughout the year delight and offer an engaging venue with human-horse interactions. It is open to the public six days a week for tours, and the organization emphasizes education about horse care and the equine industry.
Uniquely, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supports the local county Pre-Trial Intervention Program, in which first-time offenders may fulfill required community service hours by working at the facility. The rescue also partners with multiple organizations by hosting equine-assisted programs whose focus is using the therapeutic value of horses to help people with post-traumatic stress and to build confidence in its participants.
In addition to being accredited by TAA, Equine Rescue of Aiken is a grant recipient of Thoroughbred Charities of America, a 2022 Platinum-Rated Guidestar organization, and a Safe Stall facility for the Humane Society of the United States. The organization strives to be a top-notch facility and give the horses the best care possible until they find their forever homes.