To rescue and rehabilitate abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted horses
To provide lifetime sanctuary to horses with special medical and/or emotional needs
To place adoptable horses in permanent homes through a foster-to-adopt program
To promote awareness of the principles of natural horsemanship
To help community horses by providing outreach assistance to horse owners and encouraging the public to identify and report abused, abandoned, and neglected horses
About Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary
While there are other horse-related organizations in the Sarasota/Manatee area, Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary is the only nonprofit that exclusively rescues abused, abandoned, and unwanted horses. Many of our rescues were starving and/or ill, while others were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Ten horses would have been euthanized or shot. Still others were unwanted because of a health or behavioral issue, even though the condition was treatable.
Sixteen Hands is unique in that we provide a lifetime home for our horses. We do allow some of them to be fostered by people we know well, but since we retain ownership, if necessary we can easily return a horse to the sanctuary.
We’re also unique because we believe in and practice natural horsemanship using strategies developed by Pat Parelli. The “nature of the horse” serves as the foundation for our human-horse partnerships. We don’t use “traditional” measures, such as force, dominance, intimidation, and gadgets. Our horses are treated by everyone who works with them in a humane and natural (for the horse) way.
Since the sanctuary was incorporated in 2007, we’ve rescued and rehabilitated more than 70 horses. They’ve come to us at all ages, and we’ve taken in more than 20 different breeds. All have received quality, loving care, and most have lived comfortably into their late 20s or early 30s.
After several start-up years and a relocation, the sanctuary began to thrive. Since 2011, we’ve upgraded the property, originally just pastureland, by adding a 22-stall barn, a hay barn, an equipment shed, a mini-barn, six pasture shelters, and an education center. We’ve grown our volunteer corps from 3 to more than 30. We’ve recently expanded natural horsemanship training opportunities for our horses and volunteers.
We’ve become well-known in the Sarasota/Manatee area, thanks to our involvement with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, our open houses, and our appearances at numerous community events. In addition, we’ve conducted sanctuary tours for many individual visitors and groups.
We’re proud to be verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Our donor base is growing, and we’ve received a number of grants, some from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and some from other organizations.
Our greatest challenge is the rainy season. During the summer, much of our property becomes so flooded that we can’t place horses on it. So we move 11 of our 30+ horses to a neighbor’s nearby pasture on higher ground and place others, on a rotating basis, in their barn stalls, two relatively dry pastures, the parking area, and our driveway.
A lesser challenge is our location, which is a 45-minute drive from Bradenton and a 60+-minute drive from Sarasota. Greater presence in the community and appealing/in-depth natural horsemanship training seem to have convinced visitors and volunteers to make the lengthy drive and enjoy their time at the sanctuary.