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Friday, September 1, 2017

Aiken's equine community helping horses in Texas affected by Harvey





  • While keeping up with the news about the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Jim Rhodes of Aiken Equine Rescue wondered what was being done to help the Lone Star State’s horses during the horrible storm’s aftermath.

    “There were systems in place for people and their dogs and their cats,” Rhodes said. “But there seemed to be very few systems in place to take care of large animals like horses. I run an equine rescue organization, and I felt a need to do something.”

    Earlier this week, Rhodes began coordinating an effort to send stable gear, barn and veterinary supplies, feed, hay and bedding to Texas. Assisting him are farrier Dianne Lemmon and Mitch Lowery, a Hampton County-based veterinarian who does work in the Aiken area.
    Aiken Standard Staff Photo by Dede Biles: Jim Rhodes, left, of Aiken Equine Rescue and Charles Doremus of Aiken Saddlery pose with some of the 250 bales of hay donated by Aiken Saddlery for the horses in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

    It’s mind-boggling how fast this has come together,” Rhodes said. “I thought the logistics of it were going to be a nightmare, but everyone I’ve asked for help has been so cooperative. There was no hemming or hawing around. They just said, ‘Yes.’”

    A truck filled with 250 bales of hay donated by Aiken Saddlery, 6 tons of sweet feed and oats donated by Banks Mill Feeds and shavings for bedding donated by Queen Wood Products of Allendale is scheduled to leave Aiken on Friday morning and head to the Delta Equine Center in Vinton, Louisiana.
    Aiken Standard Staff Photo by Dede Biles: Jim Rhodes, left, of Aiken Equine Rescue and Charlie Herrick of Bank Mill Feeds stand with the feed that Banks Mill donated to help horses affected by Hurricane Harvey.

    Rhodes found that facility, which is a veterinary clinic, through his contacts in the thoroughbred industry, and he’s been told that it will get the donations to the Texas horses that have been displaced and/or injured in the flooding.

    “My goal is to put everything on the ground where it’s needed the most, and let the people there decide where it should go,” Rhodes said.

    Another truck filled with more shavings is scheduled to leave Aiken early next week, and a truck pulling a stock trailer filled with stable gear and barn and veterinary supplies is scheduled to depart from here late next week.

    Anyone who would like to donate buckets, halters, lead ropes, bandages, insect repellents, ointments and other items can bring them to Aiken Equine Rescue at 532 Glenwood Drive or Aiken Saddlery at 1044 East Pine Log Road.

    Rhodes also is seeking money to help cover the shipping costs. There are links to PayPal on Aiken Equine Rescue’s Facebook page and website, www.aikenequinerescue.org.
    For more information, call Rhodes at 706-373-6350.

    "I know we’re doing only a tiny bit of what is needed, but I couldn’t sit around and do nothing,” Rhodes said.

    In addition, horses in Texas are going to benefit from a shipment of 493 bales of hay from Virginia that Rhodes and his associates arranged with a generous donor.

    “We are very fortunate not have had this kind of catastrophe in Aiken, so we’re trying to support the horse community in the Houston area,” said Charlie Herrick, owner of Banks Mill Feeds, of his decision to get involved in the local Hurricane Harvey equine relief effort.



    ​Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.





    Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    Aiken Horse Lovers Help Horses Hit by Hurricane Harvey

    Through the help of local donations, 2  tractor trailer truckloads of feed and shavings will be delivered for the horses in Texas devastated by Hurricane Harvey!

     

    This is great news and another way to help! Mitch Lowrey of Equine Sports Medicine & Chiropractic Care have combined efforts with Dianne Lemmon, as well as with Jim Rhodes of Equine Rescue of Aiken to ship a tractor trailer full of hay and a second trailer full of the supplies that we collect as well as shavings!
    700 bales of Orchard Grass and Timothy, 4 tons of feed and a trailer load of shavings will be headed to Texas. Some areas have experienced upwards of 50" of rain!

    A huge thanks to Amy Hebert from Aiken Saddlery and Charlie Herrick of Banks Mill Feed and James Dixon for his hay donation. 
    Also, a grateful thank you to the wonderful folks at Queen Wood Products, including Keith Lucas, for donating the shavings as well as helping coordinate the shipments once they arrive to the affected areas! They will also provide whatever amount of shavings we will need in order to fill the remainder of the tractor trailer that our supplies travel in!
    We just need to pay for the truck and trailer to haul it! It's all going to a staging area north of Houston to Dr Damon O'gan of the Austin Equine Hospital.  Shipping is the biggest expense. We are working with Lynn Reardon executive director of Lope a TAA accredited organization.... all donations are tax-deductible
    Funds to cover the transportation costs can be done via Equine Rescue of Aiken on their website, so please consider helping!

    ANY HELP IS GREATLY NEEDED

    THANKS IN ADVANCE

    SHARE PLEASE

    Sunday, December 4, 2016

    Horses Doing Community Service?

    Horses Doing Community Service? You Bet!


    A lot of folks know about the Saratoga WarHorse Program (SWH). It's a wonderful program that has a program to try to help vets from all over the country who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress.

    Do you all know that most of their programs are held right here in Aiken? The facilities and special rescue horses are provided to SWH, free of charge by Equine Rescue of Aiken.

    For 3 days the vets are here on our 80 acre facility, with our Aiken "War Horses." If you haven't been here, it's a beautiful, peaceful place. Artists come to paint the scenery, volunteers come to help with the horses and Vets come to heal.

    We pick special horses that will make a connection to a vet. Their job is to be themselves, spend 3 days with that vet mirroring their emotions and empathizing with them. For many it's a cathartic experience. For some, we hope, it's the start of a road to recovery.

    Aiken War Horse

    My Dad made it through 4 European invasions in WWII and lived not to tell about it. I wish he had a Saratoga WarHorse Program to help him when he made it back, a changed man from the one who left our quiet seaside town.

    Helping these Vets is a pretty big undertaking for the horses and the Rescue. We will help these beautiful animals find homes and a new job when they are ready to move on from the rigors of the program.

    But the Community Service doesn’t stop with helping Veterans. The Rescue is heavily involved in the Pre Trial Intervention System (PTI) and the Juvenile Justice Program.

    These folks come to the Rescue to do an assigned and supervised task. The horses are always here as part of the scenery. It’s peaceful and it gives them a chance to think while doing anything from mucking out a stall, filling water buckets for the horses or helping with the landscaping.

    Jim Rhodes, the Managing Director and lifeblood of the Rescue, is always there, encouraging the participants in the program, talking and listening to them. He often becomes a father or big brother figure to some of these people, telling them like it is and what life expects of them. He doesn’t paint it pretty, but talks in terms they understand.

    He can be the ultimate "Southern Gentlemen" for them to look up to and hope to embody someday.

    He can also go to a level of reality with folks that need a serious talking to and figurative “slap up side the head” as if to say “Why on earth are you wasting your life acting this way or doing these things”?

    I know it takes a personal toll on Jim. Just another of the burdens he bares in caring for human as well as equine lives as if it’s a matter of life and death, which sometimes it is. 

    But the horses are always here, helping everyone in all of the programs, including Jim and the many other volunteers, who come to this place of beauty and leave, hopefully a little changed for the better.

    It’s true what Winston Churchill said:
    There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

    Meanwhile we must care for all of the horses at the Rescue, including the ones in the SWH Program. Feed them twice a day, have their feet done every few weeks have them checked by the Vet and given bi-annual standard inoculations, have their teeth done once a year and care for them if they are sick.

    Running the rescue and paying for all of this for every horse is not a forgone conclusion. We don’t have tons of money sitting in a big account we can rely on to pay the bills. Sometimes it’s a day to day worry. Yes, the physical land is here at the generosity of the original donor who set up the Rescue. However, the annual cost to support the horses is up to the Equine Rescue of Aiken to raise.

    That’s where Jim Rhodes comes in, with every event, bucket for you to drop dollars into, one on one requests, pleas for help from facebook and twitter. It’s a full time job, along with caring for and managing the rescue, the broken water pipe, the fence needing fixing, applying for grants, all at no cost to the rescue. He’s an employee now and a  volunteer in his "spare time" like any volunteer who does it out of pure love for what he is doing, regardless of the stress that comes with everyday begging for money.

    The other volunteers help where they can, come daily to do chores or come to work at events. But without public support, the Equine Rescue wouldn’t be here and a horse wouldn’t be here to help that Vet suffering from PTSD or that kid who took a wrong turn in his life and needed to be brought back on track and given something to do to fill his spare time and keep him out of trouble.

    I know what I’m talking about. As a business person forced to retire early due to a sudden lifelong disability, the Rescue has helped give me a purpose and meaning to my life. It helps me know that I still have skills and am appreciated for the quality of my work and my work ethic. Its one thing to prepare for retirement. It’s another entirely to have the work that was your life’s passion pulled from you long before you were ready.

    I can help in the background on my computer, show up for some events and take your entry ticket or help you pay with a credit card. I can share information about the rescue on my facebook page. I've even hosted a potluck dinner at my house and put a bucket out for cash for the Rescue. However I don’t personally have the money to give it what it needs to exist one more day or year.

    That's where all of you come in.

    The Rescue has sent out mailings to remind folks about our slogan: Horses Helping People. Return envelopes were included to make it easy to donate. You can donate even if you didn't get a mailing from us!


    In the Holiday Season time of giving, or anytime of year, please send a check to Equine Rescue of Aiken or go to our website at www.aikenequinerescue.org Click on Donate for the option to donate with paypal or a credit card.   

    If you run into Jim, think about the Rescue and all of the good done there. Let it be a reminder to put a check in the mail when you get home. You are guaranteed to get a good feeling and a thanks in the hearts of everyone who is part of the Rescue, especially the horses!

    Submitted by Volunteer, Linda Vola, 12/4/2016