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December 5, 2022
Social Mission: Aiken Equine Rescue
At Aiken Equine Rescue, it’s all about giving back new life. The horse rescue farm averages 90 adoptions per year, more than half of which are Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) who need a safe place to transition from racing. Aiken Equine Rescue is one of 82 organizations that has been accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) to retrain, retire, and rehome Thoroughbreds. One such horse is BJ Diablo, a native Puerto Rican-bred racehorse who was in desperate want for a home and a family after his retirement.
BJ raced seven times during his career to achieve three first place wins, three second places, and one fifth place. When his racing owner decided to retire him, he was sent to Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc. But shortly after that, Puerto Rico was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Aiken Equine Rescue agreed to take BJ in.
The former racehorse did not know how to simply be a horse after everything he’d been through. In an attempt to help BJ decompress and adjust to life off the track, Aiken Equine Rescue enrolled him in their Trust & Release Program for veterans, active duty members of the military, and victims of trauma. He quickly became a favorite as he helped individuals open up and find increased confidence while simultaneously being healed himself as he sensed his purpose in helping humans. BJ was eventually adopted but subsequently returned to Aiken Equine Rescue due to the sentiment that he was “too much horse.”
Despite that setback, the best was yet to come for BJ. Another local family decided to adopt him for mom, Lyndsey. However, Lyndsey’s eight year old daughter Savannah almost instantly formed an inseparable bond with the horse. From day one, it was clear that he was meant for Savannah all along. She’d had an unmistakable love for horses for her whole life, but it wasn’t until BJ that she found her true “heart horse.”
For Lyndsey, there has been no greater joy than watching the deep relationship blossom between Savannah and her horse. “As a parent, watching them connect is indescribable. Every day I’m in complete awe of the bond they share and the things he has taught her this far. He’s become her safe place, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful!” she said.
Aiken Equine Rescue itself has also become very special to Lyndsey, her fiancé Brad, and Savannah. Not only did they connect with BJ here, but it’s also where the couple got engaged and will have their wedding, and where the family truly feels at home. “To say the rescue is our happy place would be an understatement,” Lyndsey said. “I can only imagine Heaven is just like the rescue: beautiful hills full of happy horses and people who strive for happy endings.”
To learn more about how you can give back to horses in need and support the rescue’s mission of giving second chances, visit aikenequinerescue.org.