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Leading in Equine Rescue Since 2012

In under 12 years, The Dorset Equine Rescue has saved 400 lives from a home-base of only 5 acres, plus foster placements. We've grown exponentially in our outcomes, with no signs - or plans - of slowing.

The next horizon is upon us. With a founding gift & support from visionary donors, we've purchased land to develop our Legacy Farm for generations to come.



Readiness for the unplanned is always part of the Dorset Equine Rescue vision. Baby 'Butter', shown here with his Mama, 'June' was a surprise (or bonus) resident.


The interwoven story of humans and horses is a tale older than time. Among nearly 6,500 species of mammalian life on earth, only we humans are graced with the ingenuity to build advanced civilizations. Yet among this number there is just one other species without whom the world we enjoy today would not have been possible: the horse. 


If we were to rewind 6,000 years of history and extract the thread of the horse from the story of human progress, our world would be unrecognizable. Life as we know it has literally been co-created by the horse. From facilitating the early hunt to evolving agrarian life, from carrying us into battle to literally moving mountains, horses have been there to support human advancement at every turn. 

Our work honors this partnership.

Read the full Vision Statement


While the roles and reasons for them have changed over time, horses and humans remain intrinsically connected today. They are our companions, athletic partners and co-creators of leisure, which is to say that their lives and purposes have evolved alongside our own. As their place among us has changed over time, so too have the vulnerabilities that horses face, challenging the sacred integrity of the human-horse relationship. 

The Dorset Equine Rescue, a 501(c)(3) in Vermont, has been innovating the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of vulnerable and slaughter-bound horses since 2012. In everything we do, we are guided by two principles:

a) Honoring the profound, historic role of horses as co-creators of civilization, and

b) Fiercely safeguarding their humane treatment in a rapidly changing world.


'Phoenix' (right) was a "bucking horse" in a circuit rodeo, traumatized to be fierce. At only 3 he was dumped at an auction, unable to be handled. 'Viktor', age 1, (left) was seized with 12 other emaciated horses from a breeder. 


Some of horses we care for arrive, or are born, critically ill. Here, the expert staff at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Saratoga, NY provide diagnostic imaging for a sick young resident. 

Our Goals:

Dorset Equine Rescue has facilitated the rescue of 400+ at-risk and critically ill horses in the 12 years since our inception and, remarkably, has done so entirely on borrowed land. What the organization has lacked in a permanent home and long-term stability, it has more than made up for in determination and persistence. The ambitious outcomes achieved to date, even on potentially shifting sands, speak volumes for the momentum that awaits the next Dorset Equine Rescue chapter: a farm of our own


With a permanent, secure home base, Dorset Equine Rescue plans to continue all current objectives and expand goals to include: 

  • Increased capacity to take more horses 

  • Year-round training and rehabilitation facilities

  • Professional facilities designed to cope with crisis-level needs

  • Facilities for community engagement and partnership education

  • Education and volunteer-resource facilities

  • Added, innovative on-farm revenue streams to support the Dorset Equine Rescue mission

A key factor that shapes every goal at Dorset Equine Rescue is often-overlooked: in order for horses to move from vulnerability to true safety and security, we must go beyond helping them simply survive and commit to seeing them thrive. While survival and basic need-meeting are foundational, and very much part of our work, stopping there is not the Dorset Equine way.


Our long-term goals include seeing the horses in our care through not just adequate, but ideal homes, as well as implementing programs and support that bridge gaps that prevent horses from getting what they need. Ultimately, our goal at Dorset Equine Rescue is to evolve beyond the crisis-response model of rescue to include community action, prevention and changing the discourse on equine rescue from a dynamic, boots-on-the ground vantage point. 


The horses in Dorset Equine Rescue's care receive a level of care and discerning placement to help them thrive, not just survive.


The horses in our care are often traumatized by neglect, abuse or both. They often require calm surroundings and consistent kindness to rebuild trust in humans.

The primary beneficiaries of our services are the horses that come into Dorset Equine Rescue's care and ownership. These horses may come from voluntary owner-surrender, law-enforcement seizure cases or slaughter-auction purchase. In some of these cases the needs are extremely severe and heart-wrenching. In others, less is required to restore a horse to health and adoptability.


In many cases, particularly horses coming out of the slaughter auction pipeline, the animals are badly traumatized. They may be malnourished, infected, have profoundly neglected feet or even broken bones. Blindness is exceedingly common. These cases require sometimes unknown resources of time, patience, medical care and love. Re-established trust in a human cannot be purchased. 

Similarly, re-establishing trust between humans, where horses are concerned, is a complex and long-term goal at Dorset Equine Rescue. Sometimes serving horses and bridging the gaps that prevent them from getting their needs met, happens (or fails) in the human-to-human exchange. 

Snowy Forest

Support the Legacy Farm Project Today.


At the Dorset Equine Rescue, we understand deeply that helping horses who are not in our care is a part of the preventative work we do. However, this work hinges directly on remaining approachable, resourceful and trauma informed. With psychology and counseling expertise as part of our Dorset Equine Rescue family, we have the opportunity to create volunteer programs to interface successfully with the owners of vulnerable horses to facilitate prevention, co-operative surrender or even fully supported euthanasia. 

Expanded Outcomes:

A permanent home for Dorset Equine Rescue will be so much more than a place to save lives and rehabilitate

horses for placement. It will be a center for the advancement of outcomes that are both case-based and cultural. 

  • More lives will be saved by expanding capacity to house more horses

  • Horses in our care will find homes faster with year-round facilities

  • Dorset Equine Rescue’s ability to respond and support law enforcement seizures will be expanded

  • Upgraded ability to deal with health crises on-site and reduce hospitalizations

  • Ability to house round-the-clock staff for high-level needs and safety

  • Community education and engagement to increase awareness and support

  • Program development for proactive, preventative, off-farm support

  • Opportunities for property-based revenue streams to support Dorset Equine Rescue’s work


Fiercely safeguarding the humane treatment of horses goes far beyond housing and veterinary care. Expanding to a permanent farm and resource center will allow the culture-changing, door-opening work of Dorset Equine Rescue to have a centralized home where we can welcome the public, volunteer trainees and partnering rescue staff for continuing education. 


A property that is appointed and large enough to grow into a next-generation rescue effort will also afford revenue and resource opportunities such as on-site events, hay production, potential event and/or lodging rental and the ability to host on-farm fundraisers.


With tremendous support, hard-work and faith from the Dorset and surrounding communities, Dorset Equine Rescue has filled its first decade with stories of remarkable comebacks, suffering prevented and the seemingly impossible made real. Our roots are here, in Dorset, Vermont. 


We plan to deepen those roots right here while we expand our reach and impact. We are proud to be a part of the community that has helped us lay our foundation. Dorset Equine Rescue plans to establish its Legacy Farm near its current location and create a central home-base for equine rescue, education and support that serves a much broader region. 

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A beautiful sunset over the 5 acres that have held our work for over a decade. 


February 25, 2024

We are thrilled to announce the purchase of

178 Acres on the edge of Dorset, Vermont

Our Legacy Farm Planning is Underway!

In Conclusion:

In order to build a next-generation rescue and education center we need visionary commitment on the part of forward-thinking individuals, corporations and foundations. We invite you to join us in supporting this important project by making an investment in a very different kind of rescue effort. With your support we will create a forever-home, improved-culture and perpetual resource of safety to honor our historic partner, the horse. 

To support the Project & Learn More:

P.O. Box 92
East Dorset, VT 05253

Contact Executive Director, Jen Straub:
(802) 366-1300

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