Rescue Spotlight: Beech Brook Farm Equine Rescue and the Truth About Gaited Horses
After a thunderstorm and a broken-down car prevented each trip I planned to Beech Brook Farm Equine rescue in CT, owner and president Deborah Finco still took the time to conduct a phone interview in the middle of a day at her full-time job.
How was Beech Brook Farm Equine Rescue founded?
Running a rescue and working full-time cannot be easy, but Deborah still spoke to me passionately about the rescue that she started in 2007 after her horse-crazy daughter wondered: “Mom, what if we helped rescue horses?”
Her daughter’s thoughtful suggestion led to them fostering a rescue donkey. When I asked her how this progressed into founding the rescue, a 501c3 non-profit organization, Deborah explained to me that she was not happy with the donkey’s new home and wanted to have more say in the animals’ future.
They started small, with only 2 or 3 horses per year, but the number of volunteers increased, and in 2009 a newspaper article caused the rescue to explode. Deborah told me that the goal of the board now is to adopt out at least 20 horses per year! To date they have saved over 75 horses and place 60 in adoptive homes.
However, currently, donations have been down and until this changes the rescue cannot take in any more animals. Therefore, if you are a rescue-crazy equestrian, we hope that you’ll consider donating via at email@example.com or snail mail at 125 Fishtown Road, Mystic CT 06355.
BBF gets a lot of their horses from the infamous Camelot Auction. Like Save Your Ass Rescue, which was previously featured, BBF has a very distinct quarantine area and guideline. This is necessary as a lot of Camelot horses come in with diseases such as Strangles, which Deborah experienced a recent bad case of.
The Truth About Gaited Horses
I decided to take advantage of this interview to ask Deborah about gaited horses. BBF will accept any horse and adopts out a lot of donkeys especially, but mostly focuses on gaited breeds such as Tennessee Walkers, Missouri Foxtrotters, Peruvian Pasos, Spotted Saddles, and Paso Finos.
I don’t know much about gaited horses apart from my occasional trail endeavor with a little gaited Spotted Saddle mare. She is one of the most pleasant trail horses I have experienced. She is incredibly forward and responsive without being out of control, but mostly, she is incredibly comfortable.
Deborah told me about how gaited horses were bred so that their riders could ride for miles and miles without posting. People overseeing plantation work needed a comfortable horse to help them get through the day. Deborah told me that she has osteoporosis and back pain from a back fracture and, apart from her daughter’s love for gaited breeds, this is part of the reason that she goes with gaited horses.
How about their gaits?
I asked Deborah a little bit more about these comfortable gaits. I’ve heard a lot about the running walk, and the pace, and wanted to know more. Apparently, the “running walk” is what makes gaited horses so comfortable: it is a 4-beat gait that comes after the trot but feels smoother to the rider. The pace, however, is a 2-beat gait, with each side of the horse moving in unison. Deborah described this particular gait as “jarring,” in some horses but comfortable in others. Missouri fox trotters are a bit different in that their special gait (the fox trot which is very smooth) is a diagonal gait.
Gaited horses are not limited to these two gaits, though: they may have a whole spectrum from walk, trot, pace, fox trot or running walk, rack, and canter! Each breed has something different to offer.
What can you do with these horses?
I’ve always wondered if gaited horses can do English disciplines such as jumping and dressage. Most people I know who work with them either trail ride for pleasure, or do competitive trail riding.
Deborah, however, surprised me by telling me that she has a friend whose gaited horse out-jumped all of the horses in a jumping competition!
“They do it all,” she told me, “Dressage, Western, Jumping…”
However, she also went on to explain that it was harder for a gaited horse to get a good trot in dressage. Also, most people don’t want their gaited horse to trot – the running walk is much more comfortable.
Deborah had mentioned that her daughter used to show gaited horses down South, and I asked if there were different shows for gaited horses.
“There aren’t many up here,” she told me, “which is why most people who adopt our horses want to trail ride.” However, she told me about the shows down South that judge the gaited horses’ different gaits, and I thought about how amazing it would be to see one of those!
Now, for a call to action: if you’re interested in a gaited horse, check out Beech Brook Farm or check back to the Mount Toby Rescue Project regularly. And if you end up adopting, consider AllHorseStuff for your training equipment needs!