Rescue Program

Empowered Equines is a horse rescue dedicated to spreading education about positive reinforcement and force-free animal care. Creating the next generation of ethical and empowered animal care-takers.

Our Mission:
For the animals: Our goal as a rescue and sanctuary is to provide a soft landing for animals in need. While we tried to focus on draft horses, we struggle to say “no” to an animal in need. So now we are filled with a variety of breeds and species! While some animals may find a good home elsewhere, most come here with major issues that make them unlikely to be rehomed. We provide sanctuary for horses with disabilities, emotional trauma, or behavioral issues that would make them inappropriate to place.

For the people: Our major focus for humans is to spread education about ethical animal care. With more education and information out there, less animals will need rescue, and more quality homes will be available for the animals in need. We teach positive reinforcement animal training, backed by behavioral science, psychology, ethology of horses, and neuroscience of emotions.

We also try to provide a safe haven for humans to come build caring relationships with animals. Many of our students and volunteers work regularly with the same horses, focusing on relationship and progressing through the physical or emotional challenges they are working on together. Many of the people who find themselves here are LGBTQ+, BIPOC, neurodivergent and/or people with disabilities. We aim to ensure this remains a place where everyone will feel supported as individuals and build safe friendships with the animals and other humans!

Who we are:
We are run by Jessica Gonzalez, author of “Equine Empowerment: A Guide to Positive Reinforcement Training” and lifetime horse caretaker. Jessica grew up living in the city dreaming of having the magical relationship with horses we often see in movies. She was lucky enough to begin riding lessons at a young age, but was disappointed to find out that much of horsemanship was about dominance and control. After years of riding in various sports Jessica started volunteering at a horse rescue nearby, Eye of the Storm. While the care for the horses and the focus on relationship was exactly what she was looking for, the horses were still treated strictly. As Jess grew up she invested her life into finding a way to work with horses that is gentle and mutually cooperative. She worked numerous jobs managing horse farms and show barns, but ultimately found a comfortable spot in Equine Facilitated Therapy. Here she focused on using horses to support people in need, which was fulfilling, but she still wanted to give back to the horses. She returned to her roots at the horse rescue she grew up at, but with new insights and education on psychology, behavioral science, ethology, and neuroscience. She introduced Positive Reinforcement to the kids who volunteered at Eye of the Storm and realized that this was what she was looking for all along. Teaching kids a fun and ethical way to work with horses, to help rescue horses recover from their traumatic past, and work together to create a relationship that feels like magic. Soon Jessica moved to Maine with a few of her own rescue horses, at the same time Eye of the Storm was downsizing as it’s caretaker was retiring, so Jess ended up with a few extras from there! Soon she was rescuing more and more horses, ponies, donkeys, sheep and other animals as they came to her. It wasn’t a day after the first few horses moved in that the young people started filling the barn! Empowered Equines took shape and started on it’s mission to change the world for horses and the people who love them.