Just after the New Year, a Philadelphia horseman climbed into the driver’s seat of his powerful rig and went in search of at-risk horses in need of a ride to safety, and in doing so, began a personal quest to “do good” in life.
Jon, a logistics professional in the petroleum industry and longtime eventer, became a volunteer hauler for Fleet of Angels shortly after he read about the volunteer network whose mission is to transport horses from danger to safety.
“I lean more toward Buddhism in my beliefs, and you have to do good,” says Jon, who asked that his last name be withheld from this story. “You know, it’s just a thing I have: I really believe you have to do some good in this lifetime.”
After reading about Fleet of Angels in OffTrackThoroughbreds.com last December, he discussed volunteering with his wife, and then decided to go for it. He registered with Elaine Nash’s organization of horse-haulers and volunteers, and within 48 hours, found himself heading to a nearby barnyard where a man was threatening to send a horse and pony to slaughter.
Driving up the driveway of the couple who owned the animals, and remembering what he’d been told before heading out, Jon had a passing thought that his first assignment could be difficult. But it went without a hitch.
“After I got the call from a facilitator in Maryland, who made the arrangements, she made me aware that it might be a tense situation,” Jon says. “I didn’t really worry about it, and when I got there, I opened up the back (of the rig), put the horse and pony on, and was out of there in a couple of minutes.”
While the first job was a little uneasy, and convinced Jon to withhold his name from publication, the experience working with Fleet of Angels has been incredibly rewarding.
“In a sense I think of it like being a member of the fire or police department,” he says. “Someone has their back up against the wall, and they reach out and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’ ”
In the vast majority of the cases, there is little drama, as Jon learned on his second assignment: Get an eight-month-old foal transported from a rescue to his forever home.
“Neither side had a trailer, so I got a call from a facilitator in New York,” he says. “When I arrived, I gave the little guy a lesson in loading, and then got him to his new home. It was a 10 to 12 minute haul, and he is now in a beautiful barn surrounded by lots of horse people who will love and take care of him.”
Elaine Nash, who founded Fleet of Angels in the past year, credits Jon with being ready and willing to hop into his rig, almost on a moment’s notice.
“Jon has made two runs as a Fleet of Angel transport angel. His first was within two days of his registering,” she says. “He’s a willing and able angel!”
Since December, dozens of new volunteers have registered with the Fleet, says Nash, noting that it is a wonderful trend is taking the organization closer to its goal to enlist 10,000 volunteers.
The NYC-based marketing executive, and lifelong equestrian founded Fleet of Angels after reading the emotional, often desperate pleas on Facebook, to save an at-risk horse.
Nash notes that she does not think of an at-risk horse as “unwanted,” as they are often called. “I have an adopted daughter and she was very much wanted,” she says, pointing out her reason for the word choice.
Although her organization already boasts 2,500 volunteers, who do everything from hauling horses to facilitating transport, she hopes to keep growing that number.
Because oftentimes, the life and death of an at-risk horse hinges on whether the animal can find transport to a safe home, Nash explains in an earlier article with OffTrackThoroughbreds.com.
For those wishing to avail themselves of the Fleet of Angels hauling service, the fee structure is as follows: Haulers must agree to haul a rescue horse for free, or for cost-of-fuel, or at a significant discount below retail rates, Nash explains.
Those interested in obtaining hauling services, or volunteering, are invited to first register at the Fleet of Angels website to get the process started.
For Jon, volunteering with Fleet of Angels is proving to be a great way of helping a cause, and the horses he loves.
“This is my little way of stepping in and helping with something that is near and dear to me,” he says. “I love my horses, and I think it’s abhorrent that people eat horsemeat.
“Facebook is a great tool in horse-rescue (awareness), but volunteering with Fleet of Angels allows you to get out from behind the computer and do more.”