A Vermont family who bought a farm to offer boarding and retirement facilities for horses had a change of tack when a former Amish carriage horse crossed their path.
The direction of Storeybrook Farm, a nine-stall horse farm in Waterbury, Vermont, owned by Andrew, Olivia, and Storey Alcorta, changed in August 2020 when Olivia saw a picture of Tag #6561 in a kill pen in Pennsylvania. He was emaciated after years of working as an Amish carriage horse.
“All day I couldn’t get that image of that horse’s face out of my mind,” Olivia said. By late afternoon, she inquired about him, and no one had shown any interest in saving him. She knew then and there that the life of Tag #6561 depended on what she would do next — so she pulled out her credit card and began setting up quarantine arrangements for him.
“Tag #6561” has now been renamed Abe, and when he arrived, Olivia knew that this was going to be the first horse of many that would find solace at Storeybrook Farm.
“I have never handled kinder horses than the horses I have rescued from the kill pens. They have no reason to show compassion or forgiveness to people, yet the minute you show them kindness or a good home, they wipe the slate clean and give you all their trust,” Olivia said.
Since August 2020, Storeybrook has saved an astounding 150 horses who were bound for slaughter. Many of those were saved through their #SaveAHorseSunday social media platform featuring three horses every week that are in kill pens needing a miracle.
It has led to the farm being designated as an Equus Foundation “Forever Farm”, a program for facilities that demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding the comfort and dignity of horses throughout their lives by adopting and providing a forever home for rescued horses or providing a temporary home for a foster horse on an ongoing basis.
With tens of thousands of America’s horses confronted with abuse, neglect, and the threat of being shipped across its borders for slaughter, the Equus Foundation recognizes and applauds horse farms and equestrian facilities for adopting or fostering a horse until they are adopted or until a rescue center has space to take the horse back. Fostering is a powerful way to allow rescue centers to increase their capacity and save more lives.
Olivia has received mixed reactions on her rescue efforts — congratulations from many but also sentiments that horses ending up in kill pens were damaged beyond rehabilitation and not worth saving.
“Those horses are there because people have failed them. People have used them up and tossed them out when their bodies couldn’t keep up with the demands of their labor, or their breed has been overbred in hopes of making a few extra bucks, or they ran their heart and legs into the ground only to be discarded by the age of five,” Olivia says.
“These horses deserve better and I am passionate about trying to give them all a better shot at a good life.”
The first Equus Foundation “Forever Farm” was designated in 2018. Warioto Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, owned by Joni Werthan, cares for retired New York carriage horses. It recently welcomed Julio, a 20-something newly retired carriage horse who was a favorite on the streets of New York City for many years. He arrived at Warioto Farm on December 13, greeted by the carriage horses Joni has adopted since the start of the Forever Farms program.
“Retiring New York City carriage horses here at the farm has always been my dream. This is the seventh New York City carriage horse to retire at Warioto Farm in the past couple of year,” Joni says.
“Some of these horses worked together in New York City. It is especially heartwarming to see them now reunited to enjoy each other’s company and to be safe and loved for the rest of their lives.”