“The first thing we do is just teach them how to be horses again.” —Camille Carson, founder of Driftwood Horse Rescue and Sanctuary
Down a peaceful Hill Country road lies Driftwood Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, founded by Camille Carson and her husband, Jess Carson, a member of the award-winning country band Midland. Celebrating its one-year anniversary this fall, the organization saves horses from slaughter, abuse, and neglect.
While their team rescues primarily Arabian and part-Arabian horses, they take in everything from quarter horses and mustangs to a Paso Fino and a Rocky Mountain horse. The organization currently operates out of three locations in the area, has more than 30 horses in its care, and operates with the help of a small crew of volunteers under the skilled hand of Executive Director Timea Chemez, who in Camille’s words “makes everything happen.”
Originally from Oregon, Camille Carson’s love of horses started at an early age when her aunt, a dressage trainer, taught her how to ride. Carson’s partnership with Detaunt, her Arabian gelding at the time, refined her riding skills and fostered her deep love and respect for horses. As she grew up, her dressage training expanded to include cross-disciplinary work in cutting, bareback, and endurance trail riding skills.
When rescues arrive at the sanctuary, Carson draws on her extensive equine knowledge and connects with each horse as an individual, using Trust Training and techniques grounded in horse behaviors, such as mirroring movements, to help heal past traumas and become adoptable to the right homes. She notes, “What we do here is establish a foundation of trust, and once we establish a foundation of trust with the horse, you can literally take a horse and do anything.” Though recovery looks different for each individual, Carson typically sees the rescues make significant progress in six months to a year and takes great joy in witnessing their distinct personalities come out. One horse, who Carson didn’t think was going to make it on the trailer ride home, went from malnourished and timid to sassy and glossy under her care.
Her sister company, Unbound Horsemanship, provides training services for horse owners using her Unbound Training methods to help owners and their horses connect and thrive. The earnings from her business are the primary source of funding for the sanctuary.
Between the rescue, her work as a trainer, and her advocacy for the SAFE Act, which would make the sale of horses for slaughter illegal in the United States,
Carson gives a much-needed voice to the animals she has loved her whole life.
Follow the Driftwood Horse Rescue and Sanctuary on Instagram @driftwoodhorserescue, and visit www.driftwoodhorserescue.com for more information on how you can help the SAFE Act and donate to the cause.