Last October, when more than eighty horses were surrendered and seized from a neglect situation in Orange County, Virginia, the local equestrian community rallied dramatically to their aid. Area hunt clubs also organized to provide assistance in many forms - financial, donations of needed supplies, and skilled labor. Horses, and some cats and dogs, were transferred to various shelters and rescue organizations, which sent out requests for help.

Bull Run Hunt Club was one of those who responded. According to Hon. Secretary Davera Ackenbom, club member Lindy Sanford came up with the idea of sponsoring one of the rescued horses, "Gervais." She received permission from the Bull Run board to ask the membership to make a contribution at each meet and at social functions. Gervais quickly became the talk of every hunt, with Lindy supplying updated pictures of his improving condition. In December, a number of Bull Run members went to visit him at Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue. The Club also brought a flatbed full of much-needed hay as a gift for the resident horses. Gervais will have no trouble finding a future home, when his recovery is complete, with a large hunt club of stepparents.

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Better than Santa's sleigh - a flatbed of hay from Bull Run Hunt. All photos courtesy Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue.

Already a longtime supporter of Hope's Legacy, Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club also responded when news broke of this significant surrender and seizure. Hon. Secretary Lynn Stevenson notes that many individual club members sent in donations of all types: coordinating gifts of "hundreds of bales" of hay, checks to pay vet bills, Ulcer-gard, senior horse grain, and so on. The club's leadership felt that an additional group effort was appropriate, and Rita Mae Brown, MFH, and others visited with a Christmas donation from the Club.

Meanwhile, a program called "Labels for Legacy" was established, with Oak Ridge members clipping proofs of purchase labels from their Southern States-brand grain bags, collecting them, and donating them for their value toward future feed purchases. Labels for Legacy is still underway, as the horses have a ways to go to reach ideal weight. Lynn also emphasized that Oak Ridge's response was part of a broader, community-wide reaction to help the needy animals. Many non-horsepeople have also pitched in to help out, which she finds especially heartening.

Shortly after news broke of the surrender and seizure, Farmington Hunt Club was hosting a VHSA Associate Horse Show at the Barracks. On short notice, members brought in-kind donations to the showgrounds, ranging from winter blankets to fence-hanging buckets to dog and cat food for the small animals. The latter category of supplies went to the Orange County Animal Shelter; the equine goods were carefully distributed between Central Virginia Horse Rescue and Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, which also took in neglected horses. 

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Team Robb Construction at work for Hope's Legacy. 

Robb Construction Company of Crozet, VA, owned by Farmington members Matt and Cathy Robb, also contributed at Hope's Legacy. Their team provided fence materials and installed new paddocks to create more turnout space for the large number of surrendered horses.

If you would like to contribute to the care of the surrendered and seized animals, click on the links above to reach the named organizations; or visit these additional websites for charities which also took in Orange County animals: Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue and New Beginnings Horse Rescue.

If your hunt club has been involved with "Good Deeds" in your community, we would like to hear about it! Kindly contact Martha Drum via email: martha@covertside.net

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