There is currently an equine population explosion.
With the advent of shipped frozen semen in the 1980’s, every back yard mare owner began a “breeding program” as a way to make money. Those horses are now in their 20’s. In the 1990’s we heard about Premarin, the wonder drug for women suffering through menopause. The by-product of this drug was thousands of live foals. Now, many of these Premarin farms are going to be shut down leaving a lot of mares out of a “job” and an excess of offspring. What happens to them? The ones who are not lucky enough to be rescued or adopted will go to slaughter houses.
Advances in Veterinary care and medicines allow horses to live longer. Even if it is past their athletic usefulness. Horse owners may become unable to keep or care for their beloved horse. Economic downturns, relocation for employment, divorce all spells trouble for horses. Sometimes horses outlive their owners, or the owner becomes too elderly to care for or to afford their horse. Senior horse adoption is rare.
Mitchell Farm is dedicated to the safe, comfortable care of aged and/or infirm horses. We provide the positive retirement alternative to inappropriate care, neglect and auction and possible slaughter.
To educate the general public as well as the horse community on the special needs of senior horse care and management. An informed equestrian community can help to promote alternative situations for horses that are no longer useful performing their normal appointed tasks. Understanding these unique needs enables owners to maintain their horses as useful for a longer period of time.
To shelter, love and care for these older horses for as long as they have an acceptable quality of life.
In just 3 years, Mitchell Farm has cared for about 30 horses and provided them the chance to live out their lives as they should - safe, secure, loved, and able to be what they are... horses.
Ongoing care of the current retirees, continued education, fiscally solid expansion, growth in perpetuity.
Mitchell Farm currently houses and cares for 24 retirees. With about 35 additional horses on our waiting list, the need is real. However, many people don't understand why.
People don't retire dogs and cats... why horses? The simple difference is that "companion" animals continue to be valuable well into their senior years. As long as the animal is not in pain, can function and provides the affectionate tail wag or purr, they are still our beloved friend. Horses, however, are functional animals - that is, they do a job for us. That job may be as a worker, a racer or a show animal. But when they can no longer do that job, or when they begin to need extra or special and expensive care, problems can sometimes arise - owners can become over burdened or the professional attention the the animal needs becomes too great. For an aged/infirm horse, the choices are auction, possible slaughter... or retirement. And that's where we come in.
As many organizations our age, Mitchell Farm faces the transition from a day-to-day operation into a sustainable organization in perpetuity. Our goal is to spread the word, to make more people aware of the needs that we fulfill, and to broaden our financial support base so that we can guarantee to continue to provide care for as many horses as possible for as long as the need exists.
We have already become a model equine retirement facility in Connecticut. But the need is already greater than the current capacity. With the funding and facilities, we aim to be a 50 - 60 horse facility.
It is our ultimate goal to use the knowledge and experience we've gained about senior equine care, facility management and operations to establish a national organization of equine retirement facilities and to be able to share that expertise with others; to provide information, education, inspection and certification so that a consistent and superior quality of senior equine care is assured.
Dee Doolittle, Founder - Executive Director
On any given day, the first person you will meet at Mitchell Farm is Dee Doolittle, Executive Director and Jill of all trades! Dee’s warm smile and welcoming attitude is well received by both two-legged visitors and the four-legged residents. Dee, a horse owner for most of her life, has a wealth of talent and equine knowledge. She draws on training acquired in the Veterinary Technician program at Becker College and the pre-veterinary program at UMass. She practiced as a Vet Tech for many years in Connecticut and Virginia. It was as equine manager of High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. that she discovered her love of older horses.
Dee states that there is something wise and wonderful about them that is incomparable to horses at any other age. It was also there that she discovered her talent for coordinating volunteer groups. Pony clubs, and corporate groups as well as individuals would volunteer to help care for the horses and grounds. During that time, she also was Co-Commissioner of the Equestrian Events for the Special Olympics World Games.
The following year she did the same for the Special Olympic State Games in Pennsylvania. She spent 7 years working at the offices of Steed Read Horseman’s Classified, a classified magazine dedicated to the horse enthusiast.
Dee’s personal connection with horses spans her whole life. Dee grew up in Glastonbury, Ct. and through the auspices of Glastonbury Pony Club grew to know and love the equine mind. As an adult, she has had the full gamut of experiences with her own horses. She has had the experience of owning a young colt which developed wobbler syndrome and was deemed un-rideable. Until his recent death, she owned Splash, a 31 year old gelding.
Founder - Executive Director • Dee Doolittle, Salem, CT President • Matthew R. Abrams, Lyme, CT Vice President • Harry M. Horn III, Salem, CT Treasurer • William S. Nelligan, Lebanon, CT Secretary • Harriet D. Burrell, Peru, NY Directors: Carol Merckt, Lyme, CT Christine Martyn, Ellington, CT L. Page Heslin, Niantic, CT Carol A. Watson, Bozrah, CT Steven C. Watson, Bozrah, CT
300 E HADDAM RD
SALEM, CT 06420-3527
Phone: (860) 886-6767
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