Equine Rescue of Aiken saves horses and gives people a purpose

March 25, 2019

Tucked away in the rolling hills off Glenwood Drive is a quiet sanctuary for horses – some of which have have come from tough walks of life.

The Equine Rescue of Aiken was created in 2006. Today, the 90-acre facility has placed more than 900 rescued horses into new homes.

“We work a lot with racehorses coming directly off the track,” Rescue Manager Caroline Mulstay said. ”...But we also do a lot of abuse and neglect horses, and those really come from the Aiken community and the surrounding communities.”

Mulstay said the rescue usually keeps between 60 to 65 horses, depending on the “ebb and flow” of funds and resources.

“We field seven to 10 calls a day with horses needing to come to us, and unfortunately we have to say no a lot more than we say yes,” Mulstay said. “That’s the hardest part of the job.”

While Mulstay handles the day-to-day operations of the rescue, the rescue’s director, Jim Rhodes, handles things like taxes and paperwork. They also have a volunteer coordinator, Caitlin Brady.

“It’s amazing,” Mulstay said about her job. “It’s really pretty amazing.”

The goal of the rescue is to get the horses into good homes. Most of them come from the Aiken community, which has a high number of horses living in the area.

Volunteers play a major part in keeping the gears of the operation turning.

“They help us with all of the day to day stuff,” Mulstay said. ”...They’re doing all the heavy lifting. They’re awesome. We would not survive without them.”

Volunteers help take care of the horses, provide on-site maintenance, and help with youth programs.

Mulstay said many of the volunteers are people who don’t know much about horses – until they come to the rescue, that is.

The rescue recently started a program that helps educate animal control officers on how to handle equine cases and take care of the horses that are seized in those cases.

Last year, animal control officers from Orangeburg who took the class seized six horses that ended up at the Equine Rescue of Aiken.

“They said the class really helped them handle that situation,” Mulstay said. “It really hit me that not only are we helping the horses... We’re educating the officers on how to handle these situations. It’s not just impacting one creature or those six horses. It’s going to help that entire community.”

The Equine Rescue of Aiken operates off donations, which can be made at aikenequinerescue.org. To volunteer, contact the rescue at their website or call 803-643-1850.