HKS Rescue & Rehab – Rehabbing, Retraining and Rehoming Horses

HKS Rescue & Rehab (HKS R&R) is a non-profit organization started in July of 2011 to rehab, retrain and rehome horses in rescue or other unhappy situations. To date, the group has found wonderful loving homes for its first two rescue horses while training is ongoing for its second two.

Michelle Hargreaves, executive director, and Dawn Longman, president of the board of directors, firmly believe that the training element is the key to successfully rehoming these horses. “There are many horses that have been rescued and rehabilitated by amazing rescue groups, and the horse community couldn’t do without them,” said Longman. “But we believe that if the horse is rehomed without the requisite training, the chance that the horse will be unwanted again is high.”

“Our mission is to train – or retrain – them to do the work they are cut out for, whether it is being a trail horse, a hunter-jumper prospect or simply a family friend to be ridden in the pasture,” said Hargreaves. “People who rescue horses but then can’t interact with them tend to lose interest in them, and once again, the horse ends up in dire straits.”



The first HKS rescue horse was named Ace in the Hole (Ace) and, since rescuing a horse is always a gamble, the group continued on with the theme alphabetically. Next came All Bets are Off (Bets), Casino Royale (Cassie) and Stack the Deck (Decker).

Ace was recently purchased by the parents of Erin O’Rourke who has trained intensively with Ace and qualified for the 2014 U.S. Pony Club National Championships. “Ace and I are looking to the future,” said O’Rourke. “Jumping upwards of three feet courses, we are already signing up for spring eventing trials to cater to Ace’s adoration of cross country, in addition to preparing for Championships in July. I cannot believe how lucky I am to develop into a better rider through my training with Ace and his training of me.”

Bets is owned by Julie Rafter-Lodics and lives at a farm in Greensboro where she gives lessons, participates in summer camps and has helped a troop of boy scouts work on their badges. “Ms. Bets has been a joy to have,” said Rafter-Lodics. “She was a doll for her annual checkup and shots and continues to boss her best buddy, Iron, around in the paddock.”

Cassie is still in basic training with HSK R&R, but Decker is ready to go to a new loving home. Decker was born to a mare rescued by the local group HERO (Horse Education & Rescue Organization). The mare died giving birth, and Decker was hand-raised and bottle-fed by dedicated HERO members. At age four, he was a perfectly healthy horse but did not have the training needed to successfully go to a new owner. “HKS R&R trainers gave Decker the training he needed to become a dressage or hunter/jumper horse,” said former HERO Board Member Candice Royster. “He is an adorable horse who had a hard start in life but who is now ready to show what he can do!”


If you would like to support HKS R&R and have a grand time in the process, mark your calendars for Saturday, May 3, 2014. The group will host a Kentucky Derby party at Cellar 4201 in East Bend from 3-7pm, complete with a hat contest and a large screen TV outdoors to watch the Derby. Cost is $10/adult at the gate, which includes one glass of wine; those under age 21 are only $5, and children 10 and younger are free – and all are encouraged to come and join in the hat contest! Wear your best Derby attire and hat, and bring your blankets and chairs for sitting out on the lawn. You can bring your own picnic, tailgate or food spread, or boxed sandwich lunches from the delicious Muddy Creek Café out of Bethania will be available for $10 each. Go to for more information!