Saffie s a foal born of Beretta, a horse rescued by trainers at Clarity Riding in Davidsonville, part of the Gaited Advocate Intervention Team.
All odds were against Saffie. The six-week-old filly played on the Navilus Farm in Davidsonville on Monday, chowing on a bucket of feed with her mother Beretta, nibbling at her caretakers and playing with the farm’s puppy, unaware of what she went through in the womb.
Clarity Riding caretaker and trainer Elizabeth Farina saved Beretta from being slaughtered last winter through the Gaited Advocate Intervention Team (GAIT). GAIT has been an official incorporation rescuing gaited horses (who have a lateral gate rather than the traditional trot) for the last year and a half.
Beretta was being shipped to slaughter in Mexico when the load of horses she was in crashed at the border, according to Farina. She says Beretta and the surviving horses were given a medication that disqualified them for slaughter, allowing GAIT to rescue her. Farina says she began training Beretta and even took her to the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo in March, when suddenly Beretta didn’t want to be ridden. Farina then realized Beretta was pregnant, and had been since she was auctioned for slaughter.
“She [Beretta] wasn’t vaccinated or fed correctly. There’s no reason I should have a healthy baby horse right now,” Farina said.
Beretta and Saffie are among the eight horses Farina has through GAIT rescues. The organization is nationwide, but is based out of Boyd, Maryland. GAIT’s president, Denise Parsons, has been working in the horse industry for 22 years and said she wanted to give back by focusing on gaited horse rescue.
“It’s a natural way of moving that Saffie came right out of the womb doing. It’s genetic. It’s not something trained or created,” Parsons explained. “The standard breeds already have a good network, and gaited horses don’t. Approximately 150,000 horses are shipped outside of the US to slaughter each year. If I don’t focus, I’ll go mad. There was nobody standing up for these gaited horses. A lot of rescues didn’t know what to do with them or how to ride them. People think that they’re an alien species, but they’re just normal horses.”
For those who want to help in horse rescue, Farina recommends finding a registered rescue like GAIT to donate time, money and supplies, as she says non-reputable organizations can be coverups for hoarders or dealers.
Right now what Farina needs most is straw. She says she’s going through a bail or two a day taking care of Bretta and Saffie alone. Parsons says GAIT will always need monetary donations.
Farina also stressed that gaited rescue horses like Beretta and Saffie have been overlooked.
“They’re not sick, they’re not old, they're not lame, they're not crazy. there’s nothing wrong with these horses,” Farina said. “Just because it’s a rescue doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. There are horses up for rescue that if I had bred, I would be asking a lot of money.”