Spotlight on Animal Heroes:
Mia Genovesi, Godspeed Horse Hostel – godspeedhorses.org
We met Mia a few years ago when her rescue, Godspeed Horse Hostel, took in many equines from a cruelty case NYSHA was helping with. Her incredible work deserves recognition, so we wanted to find out more. Her own words are truly inspiring.
NYSHA – Mia, can you tell us something about your background and Godspeed?
When I was little I wouldn’t let my mom swat flies, and it escalated from there. Besides an assortment of inside animals, I remember George the crow who I fed daily and an increasing group of larger outside animals. I was dedicated to caring for them at an early age. Yet, I understood even then that if they were suffering, keeping them alive was not right.
I started as a horse crazy kid which led to a professional horse trainer and then dreaming of buying a farm. Having spent more time on the ground with horses than I ever spent riding or driving, I experienced a shift where I started looking at them in a different light; they were really emotional beings and I often witnessed a total disregard for this. I literally woke up one morning and said, “I’m starting a rescue.” I had never visited a rescue and knew nothing about them, but I never looked back. I concluded that I was born to feed horses and the rescue was the perfect fit to do that and learn about the “internal horse.” I bought the farm in 2000, and by 2004 Godspeed was a reality.
My goal has always been to keep the animals well cared for and content. Several people along the way were amazing role models to help hone my skill set. In addition, there were specific colleges I chose for my training because it was important to be able to operate a farm properly and efficiently.
On average, Godspeed houses 12-15 horses and occasionally farm animals. We have a separate program for livestock where we provide hay support in foster homes. We are an “adoption” rescue, often using foster homes when we take in large numbers at one time, such as in cruelty cases. Besides cruelty and neglect cases, our equines include owner surrendered, retirees, Premarin foals, or some purchased in the direst of situations to save them.
I do most of the farm chores, often going months without time off. We take in the very worst horses, usually injured and unrideable, so many would-be volunteers pass us over because they want to ride in addition to volunteering. We have a small and dedicated volunteer base who help out several times a week. They are a mix of horse people and non-horse people, and we would definitely welcome more. We are funded by private donations and grants.
There will always be horses who are etched in your mind. It is always the ones who didn’t make it, or the ones you gave three good weeks to before they passed away, or the ones no one thinks will make it but do, or the ones who teach us lessons we remember for a lifetime. I do this work for all of them though. It really is a privilege, and I remember every one of them.
NYSHA – Obviously, this is a rewarding and excellent fit for you, but it must be challenging and frustrating, too. How do you keep up hope, and what are your future plans?
For me, the challenge is doing more and better work than the year before, with fewer resources. It’s crafting every move to maximize the effect. My main frustration is that there is a disconnect between what is actually happening in the “field” and what granting foundations think.
It is crucial to know yourself well and what’s possible within the framework you have built, and then stretching that notion just so far. Strategic “quitting” of ideas and practices no longer serving you or the rescue is also paramount.
Short term goals are easy. Our mission is fluid to some extent — we go where we are needed the most “today.” We field every animal problem that comes our way with either direct help or a contact in our network. My ongoing long-term goal is to do what we can today to help save more animals next year.
This lifestyle, in a sense, is living your hobby and interests; but I like to hike, fly my drone, and research the cutting edge of “everything horses.” There is little time for outside activities, though, let alone a day off, but this is my choice. I don’t think of it as a sacrifice.
I think I’m a pretty “serious” person, by definition “acting or speaking sincerely and in earnest.” That helps in running a rescue. I don’t romanticize it, or use it as an identity; it’s just something that I do. Rescue facilities will always be necessary because the laws for animals are not doing them justice. Rescues like Godspeed are needed, but lobbying and legislation for more effective laws ultimately will help more animals. My request to all animal lovers is to support groups like NYSHA who lobby for better animal protection. Write your County and State Legislators — let them know how bad it is out there for animals. Do your part not to support factory farms, and reduce your meat consumption. Know the animal laws and what is going on in support of their welfare and ACT ON IT! But above all, report animal cruelty, even if it’s your neighbor. You are either for animals or you are not.
NYSHA – Certainly, your actions speak volumes and enrich and save lives. On behalf of the voiceless you serve, thank you.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol. XXXVII, Winter/Spring 2021.