Equine Rescue needs rescue

Photo: Brandon Warnock

Cierra Baxter

Past the pecan trees, along a secluded dirt road in the middle of Brooklet, Ga., is a place where horses go for rehabilitation and are allowed to just be horses.

The Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue is a horse rescue ran by Julie Burns who has been a private rescuer since she rescued her first horse, Dixie, back in 2008. Dixie was rescued from a PMU farm, which used female horses, like Dixie, to create the drug Premarin.

“I try not to take horses if they’re in good shape, I want them to go somewhere else. If they come here usually it’s because they got an issue that makes them either unadoptable or they need some work,” Burns said.

Premarin is made from pregnant horses’ urine. The horses are kept pregnant and the babies of the horses are then sent to slaughter houses because they are seen as waste. When Julie received Dixie, she was pregnant and very untrusting of humans.

“She’s actually super skittish. I think I’ve touched her one time and that was like last week after two years of working here,” Kailyn Fitts, a Georgia Southern University graduate and a worker at the rescue, said.

The rescue sits on about 20 acres of land and takes in horses, donkeys and other animals that have been mistreated, abused or neglected, like Dixie and Hope. The rescue has taken in about 26 horses since opening in 2008. However, the rescue itself is now in need of rescuing.

The Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue was damaged back in March when a storm caused one tree to break off and fall into another tree causing both trees to fall on top of a building, completely destroying it. The structure that was damaged was the building used to hold all the supplies and tools necessary to the rescue.

“Insurance doesn’t cover it because the tree law is just weird in Georgia. So we got the trees cut down, got the building torn down and we want to rebuild that building. Right now we’re really cramped, I’m having to use my horse trailer’s tack room for all the saddles and such,” Burns said.

Georgia Southern’s Future Veterinarians of America organization has been helping Burns raise money to rebuild the structure. A profile was started over a month ago on gofundme.com to help Burns raise $3,500 to go toward the building fund. In one month, the profile raised a little over $1,000.

“The FVA group, the Future Veterinarians of America, have been my godsend. The whole group, they’ve really helped,” Burns said. “They come out, groom and ride which is great for the horses and a huge help. It just works out really good.”

Since Burns is a private rescue all necessary expenses are left to her to cover.

“After we pay for the food and the hay and the vet bill and the farrier then anything extra goes into making the place nicer,” Burns said.

The horses come from all backgrounds ranging from the race track to private owners who just couldn’t afford to care for their horses, as was the case of a horse name Hope.

When Hope came to Burns, she was 500 pounds underweight. When Hope was found, she was the only horse left on the pasture alive. The state of Georgia made the owners of the pasture sign Hope over to Burns and it took a year to get Hope back in good shape. Since coming to the Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue, Hope has gained 550 pounds.

The rescue also receives help from volunteers like the Boy Scouts and mentally challenged groups. Some studies have shown some animals, such as horses and dogs, have rehabilitative qualities. Not only do people benefit from being around and caring for such animals, but the animals benefit as well, learning how to once again trust human interaction.

Burns said, “We occasionally have kids out. They help me clean tack or do raking and such. They enjoy the horses.”