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Bergen County Horse Rescue

Meet Your “Neigh”bors

Many Northwest Bergen readers have passed by hundreds of times. You may have admired it and smiled, appreciating that touch of “country” still left in Bergen County. But, did you know that the horse farm on Rt. 202 in Mahwah is a not-for-profit with a mission to provide a sanctuary for neglected or abused horses as well as a forever home for horses too old or not fit for adoption? 

The Bergen County Horse Rescue (BCHR) began as Mahrapo Farm Stables, a local boarding facility back in 1981. As years progressed, the location of the farm was prime territory for development while Mahrapo Farm Stables was losing clients as a boarding facility. 

Founder and president, Erin Giannios took the reins, so to speak, and initiated the movement to create a charitable rescue agency while at the same time preserving the integrity of the much-loved historic acreage. Now, its pastoral 17 acres have received preservation status and a lot of happy horses have Erin and her dedicated team to thank. 

“Several of the boarding horses were left behind at the farm by their owners. We realized that these beautiful, gentle creatures deserved a caring home and safe environment, and they became our original rescue horses,” says Erin.

Turning the BCHR into a rescue happened naturally. Longtime resident, “Luna” was left on the farm by a horse dealer who was transporting her to auction. Contrary to popular belief, bringing a horse to an auction does not always mean selling a horse to a new owner.

“Auctions are essentially a pipeline for slaughter,” says Erin. “Unfortunately, many people buy horses don’t understand the commitment,” she says. “There’s a novelty factor, but sometimes people don’t consider the longevity of the animals. They buy their child a pony, but that pony can live to be 30! It may have to change hands or eventually be sent to auction.” Potential horse owners need to consider the expense of owning one. Healthcare, vet bills, food and boarding all add up quickly. “Caring for a horse can be like a second mortgage,” says Erin. 

BCHR is usually filled to capacity because there is always a horse in need. The farm houses about 27 horses. Current breeds include standardbreds, paint ponies, appaloosas, drafts, quarterhorses, and grade horses (mixed breeds). Other four-legged friends include Cookie, the pig, two goats, and a few cats and dogs. BCHR also hosted several sheep prior to finding them a new home. Erin is “all about the horses and the animals. Rescues need to stick together, there are so many animals in need, it’s important to work together.”

The organization is completely funded through donations and managed by volunteers. Horses enjoy high quality food and specialty grains. “We go through 14 bales of hay a day, each bale costing $5-$6,” says Erin. “The costs quickly add up but everyone at the farm knows the horses are worth it.” 

The Thanksgiving season is an appropriate time to consider donating to a worthy charity. Check out the link on the BCHR website for their Amazon wish list which makes it easy to support the BCHR vision. Be sure to check out their TikTok page to get a glimpse of some fun horse shenanigans, too. 

www.bergencountyhorserescue.org

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