Help for Horses: White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue all about love

Published 4:53 pm Thursday, December 29, 2022

If horses need help in Prince Edward, Cumberland or Buckingham counties, if they’ve been abandoned, beaten or in general need to recover, there’s one place to do it. And for the staff of White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue, you can tell it’s a labor of love.

Jorg and Tom Mayfield have always had a love of horses. Jorg developed a deep connection with the animals as she grew up, and when she met Tom, they fostered a connection with many beloved horses.

With their love of animals, the pair began working as animal rescue transporters, helping safely bring rescue animals from one area to another. But soon, they noticed that there was a huge need for horse rescue centers.

Places were quickly filling up, and rescuing horses requires not only financial resources, but a professional understanding of horses with trauma or disabilities. The Mayfields had both, and soon felt called to provide a safe haven for horses that no longer had a place to call home.

Creating a Horse Sanctuary

The Mayfields began in Northern Virginia, at their own farm. It was there they got their first horse rescue request.

“It was an urgent situation,” Jorg Mayfield said. “We thought, well, we have the ability to [take them in]. We decided to take them, and once they arrived, and settled in, we started seeing more and more need.”

With a rise in need, the Mayfields realized that taking in horses would be “the best way for us to contribute to animal welfare.”

Once they started developing their horse rescue, they realized they had a problem. To help as many horses as they wanted to, they needed space.

They found exactly that in Burkeville, and soon chose to settle down and grow their dream in the beautiful countryside. The Mayfields officially became a nonprofit in 2003, and now, after a lot of grit and determination, are excited to approach their 20th anniversary.

The Mayfield’s chose the name for their sanctuary based on the Appaloosa horses, a beautiful breed known for skill, beauty, and endurance that has long been protected by Native Americans. When settlers invaded the Palouse river region, Chief White Bird led the horses and tribe members to safety. White Bird Appaloosa is an homage to the fighting and persevering spirit of Chief White Bird and the Appaloosa horses.

Now that the rescue center is in full force, the Mayfields aim to get many horses adopted by new, loving families. This can be challenging, as many of the horses are good companion horses, but not able to be ridden.

Companion horses are horses that are kept to be close with other horses, providing a kinship and sense of safety for both horses.

White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue’s Future

While some horses may remain in the sanctuary for the rest of their lives, the Mayfield’s are dedicated to giving each and every horse the opportunity to live a joyful and comfortable life.

Jorg Mayfield explained to me that there is a “very sizeable community” with over 17 rescues in Virginia. “We coordinate with other rescues cooperatively to help horses. We try to work together.”

Of course, there isn’t just a need in Virginia. The Mayfield’s explained they’ve “taken horses from as far away as Montana…and have a couple here now from Kentucky.”

The Mayfield’s drive to contribute to animal welfare is tireless.

“If we can help, we do,” said Jorg. “ And if we can’t accommodate that horse, we try to find a way for that horse to reach a safe haven.”

Yet the need for horse rescues is only growing. With many families facing financial struggles, more and more are becoming unable to care for their horses and calling on rescues to help out.

At one point, Jorg explained they had “as many as 35” horses in their rescue. They currently serve 24, a number that’s most sustainable for them.

The Work Doesn’t Stop

The Mayfields explained they have a “strong support network among professionals,” drawing on the help from veterinarians and other experts whenever needed.

White Bird also relies regularly on volunteers, who are incredibly important to the mission. Volunteer work is frequently labor intensive, involving feeding and cleaning. While it’s hard work, it’s also very rewarding for folks who love horses or animals. Volunteers aren’t always on the frontlines; some also assist with building the website or other administrative work.

As a non-profit, the Mayfields also spend a significant amount of time doing paperwork and administrative duties. While their hearts are always with the horses, doing this work is necessary to remain an active sanctuary and advance their good work.

White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue: A proud community

The Mayfields love sharing their work and meeting community members.

“We’d love to hear from volunteers,” Jorge Mayfield said, explaining that there are many ways to get involved. Even high schoolers are eligible with parent’s permission.

It’s a difficult time for horses as currently, “people should be aware of the severity of the problem in Virginia. The rescues are completely overwhelmed,” Jorge Mayfield said.

For those looking to learn more about the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue, the Mayfields keep an active Facebook page and are always open to hearing from the community via their email whitebirdapps@gmail.com. Also, the facility itself is located at 1688 Burke’s Tavern Road in Burkeville.

The Mayfields, meanwhile, are juggling a couple things at once. They are busy planning for the rescue’s 20th birthday.

“We want to give thanks to our donors, supporters, and volunteers. Certainly, we could not do this alone.”