Mom and daughter turn sad stories into successes at horse rescue centre
Green grass, open fields, and a lot of love and attention are what the four-legged creatures at Chintsa Horses Rescue and Rehab Centre receive on a daily basis.
The farm, named Newhampshire, is situated near Chintsa West and is home to 35 horses and donkeys — many have been rescued from bad situations and rehabilitated.
Some have happy stories, but most have had a rough start in life — from injuries to neglect.
But UK-born Georgie Dickerson, 72, and her daughter Penny, 40, make it their mission to turn sad stories into successes.
“We’re very adamant. We’ll walk to fetch a horse in need if we have to and we have done that before,” quipped Penny.
“It’s a passion,” said Georgie, who established Chintsa Horses in 1998.
Starting out as a beach and bush horse trail destination with £200 birthday money, a postdated cheque and five horses, Georgie’s passion soon saw her take in those animals in dire need of love and care.
“I was working at Spargs at the time, but I always said I’d go back to horses.
“My dad sent me money for my birthday and that was the start of it.
“We took in ‘poor’ horses and built them up and then people got to know that we’d take on horses in need and it just grew,” said Georgie, whose passion for riding and caring for horses began when she was eight years old in the UK.
At the farm, Penny spends most of her day with the horses — from operating daily trail rides along the Chintsa beach to caring for, feeding, grooming, spending time and bonding with the animals in need.
“We get neglected horses, but we also get loved ones.
“One family decided to re-home their horse here after their daughter grew out of him because they wanted to know he’d be loved and cared for,” said Georgie.
“We’ve had really bad cases.
“One of the worst was finding a horse that was so badly injured, her one hoof was falling off as she walked. It was a hopeless case.”
Penny said it took a lot of strength to do this type of work.
“Anyone who thinks rescuing and rehabilitating animals is the best thing ever is wrong.
“It can be very heartbreaking some times. They’re [the horses] like family members,” said Penny.
While many of the horses brought to and rescued by Georgie and Penny require medical care, Georgie said the psychological damage inflicted by humans was often much more difficult to overcome.
“Horses are very clever and they know you before you know them.
“It takes time bonding with them, grooming them and building trust to turn them around,” said Georgie.
Once the horses are rehabilitated, those which are suitable find a permanent position in Penny’s beach trail string — entertaining clients with their kooky, quirky and unique personalities.
Others find loving homes and many including two beautiful white mare sisters — named Judy and Punch — get to live out the rest of their days at the farm.
The rehabilitation of the horses is mainly funded by the income brought in by horse beach trail bookings as well as the farm’s volunteer programme.
“Many of the volunteers have some experience with horses and we have returning volunteers who come back through the year, especially during December,” said Georgie.
Volunteers pay a fee to stay on the farm, which is then ploughed back into the rehabilitation and care of the horses. Returning volunteers also “chip in” with everyday expenses.
“We lost all bookings for volunteers last year because of Covid-19, so things were really difficult.
“We also lost horses because of the African Horse sickness breakout in 2020. It was a very hard year,” said Penny.
Working day-in and day-out to ensure a happy home and happy horses, Georgie and Penny give everything they have to keep the farm running and to keep saving and supporting horses in need.
“Seeing the successes and seeing happy horses is rewarding — when you see a horse that went through so much psychological damage riding on the beach safely with five-year-olds on their back, you know you’ve done your job,” said Georgie.
It is clear that for the Dickerson women, the horses come first and always will.
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