While the Gettysburg College Equestrian Team was brainstorming new ways of team bonding through a horse-related service project, senior co-captain Julie Weisz came across a local article about the serious maltreatment and neglect of 21 horses.
In November, investigators received a tip that several horses, boarded by their owners at a farm near Littlestown, Pa., were being neglected and abused. When investigators arrived at the farm, they discovered 21 seriously malnourished horses and one deceased horse. The horses were seized by investigators and taken to the Adams County Society for Prevention and Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Sadly, three of the horses passed away shortly after being seized. Ten of the horses, all under a year old, are being boarded at the Adams County SPCA and the rest are at local farms.
The equestrian team was determined to find a way to help and give back to the beloved animals that make their sport possible. Members of the team reached out to SPCA staff and invited them to the first meeting of the semester. Currently, 15 members have signed up to volunteer at the shelter and are in the process of undergoing training. "I just want to help these little guys," said Weisz. They learned how to feed and water the horses, put hay in their stalls, bring them in for dinner, clean and groom them, clean the stable before locking it up, and more.
The horses are making progress and have improved greatly from when they first arrived. Five team members were at the Adams County SPCA for orientation on Feb. 26 when a horse named Mr. Big ate a treat for the first time. "Usually he just moves it around and spits it out. I'm so glad he actually ate one for the first time," said Katie Carroll, a member of the Board of Directors at the Adams County SPCA. "Each of the horses has its own personality. When they first got here, they couldn't even kick or run like normal yearlings because they were so sick. We were so glad when they finally started to! And now that they're better, they just want to run," said volunteer Lori Riggs.
Each team member's dedication to horses is very apparent. "My favorite part of the day was just lying with a horse named Jenny, and making friends with the other horses," said junior Katie Brennan. "I liked working with Carrie, the trouble horse," added first-year Dannie Keim.
Working at the Adams County SPCA not only gives back to the horses but also provides a chance for team bonding. Sophomore Alexa Riddle and senior Julie Weisz both enjoyed spending time together and helping Nike, who is suffering from rain rot, a disease that causes scabbing on a horse and is painful to remove. "We became buds working with Nike," commented Riddle.
The team was recently notified that their work with the Adams County SPCA was exemplary in community involvement and deserving of the annual Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Service Project Award. Through this award, team members have the opportunity to participate in a riding clinic at Goucher College with Peter Leone, Olympic Silver medalist rider and trainer.
"I was touched when I received word that these students took the initiative and made a decision to do something Gettysburg great," said Chase Straub, club sport director and assistant baseball coach. "This is what Gettysburg College is all about - follow your passion, and act on it!"
Although the horses are not currently up for adoption, the shelter is in need of supplies, such as horse blankets and hay, and any other donations to help with the care of the horses. Visit the Rick and Sally Meyers Animal Shelter website for more information.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Article by Eliza Hunt '15, campus recreation public relations coordinator
Contact: Tracey Dukert, assistant director of news content, 717.337.6521