Horse rescue in Maple Park to hold Barnyard Bash fundraiser, celebrating 15 years

Gail Vaca is passionate about horses - especially those that have been abused or neglected.

That's why she founded the Illinois Equine Humane Center in 2008.

The nonprofit's mission is to be a shelter and rehabilitation for all breeds of horses - including retired Thoroughbreds - and to find them a suitable home. Vaca also aims to raise awareness for responsible horse ownership so fewer animals need to be helped.

In order to help educate the public and raise needed funds, the Illinois Equine Humane Center will host a Barnyard Bash celebrating its 15 years from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at its farm, 47W635 Beith Road, Maple Park.

Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $10 for kids 6 and older, can be purchased online at or at the event. All proceeds will directly benefit ILEHC's horses and its rescue efforts.

“As the ILEHC now moves into its 16th year, I'd most importantly like to thank all the amazing, generous, and tireless volunteers and donors who've supported and sustained us along the way,” said Vaca in an email.

“Without the help of our volunteers and supporters, literally hundreds of horses might not have been rescued and spared further suffering. The horses are incredibly blessed to have such dedicated advocates looking out for their welfare. Thank you, Team ILEHC!”

If you are looking to adopt or foster a horse, or just volunteer your time to help care for these animals, call (815) 761-4937 or visit

Vaca talks more about the Illinois Equine Humane Center and the upcoming Barnyard Bash.

Mack, a former racehorse, is one of the Illinois Equine Humane Center's success stories. He was adopted by the Rabent family in Elburn and now lives with two other horses. Courtesy of the Illinois Equine Humane Center

Q: What is the Illinois Equine Humane Center? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.

A: The Illinois Equine Humane Center is an equine rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption organization serving horses and horse owners throughout Illinois and surrounding states.

The ILEHC often rescues horses that have been subjected to abuse, neglect and starvation. The organization then rehabilitates and, if needed, retrains them in preparation for eventual adoption into new, loving homes.

The ILEHC also works to transition former Thoroughbred racehorses into new homes and careers once they've retired from racing.

Q: How many horses do you help each year?

A: The ILEHC generally has 12-15 horses in its program at any given time.

Q: Where do the majority of your funds come from to support your work?

A: The vast majority of our funding comes via the kindness and generosity of animal/horse loving individuals who care deeply about the welfare of animals.

Most of these donations are made to us during fundraising events held several times a year at the farm, or via our direct mailing campaigns.

We also receive funding from grants that are available to equine rescue organizations through various charitable animal foundations.

Mack, a former racehorse, during his training and rehabilitation at the Illinois Equine Humane Center in Maple Park. The organization takes in former racehorses, works with them and aims to adopt them out. Courtesy of the Illinois Equine Humane Center

Q: Can you share one of your success stories?

A: A great local adoption success story would be that of an incredibly sweet, young Thoroughbred named Soul Machen (Mack).

Mack was a former racehorse that was in need of a safe landing once his career at the track was over. The ILEHC accepted him into our program, and after several months of rehabilitation and retraining, Mack was adopted by a local family who just adores him.

“Adopting from ILEHC was wonderful. They were so knowledgeable about all the horses in their care. Everything they told me about Mack was spot on! I would definitely recommend ILEHC,” said Pat Rabent of Elburn, who adopted Mack.

Mack has two other equine companions that also love and adore him.

“Mack has fit in with my horses perfectly, too. He's awesome and I love him,” Rabent said.

Q: Tell us about the upcoming Barnyard Bash fundraiser on Aug. 5.

A: The ILEHC is hosting a Barnyard Bash at its farm in celebration of its 15th year anniversary of horse rescue operations.

The Barnyard Bash is an incredibly fun event for folks of all ages. We'll have food trucks on hand, live music courtesy of a great local band called Outpatience, a bounce house and obstacle course for kids, raffles and, of course, horses!

The event will also feature a great silent auction and online auction, where guests can bid on fabulous items such as gift baskets, local experiences, gift cards, vacations, and more.

Red Match and Pee Wee get a bite to eat at the Illinois Equine Humane Center in Maple Park. The nonprofit will host a Barnyard Bash Aug. 5 to help in its mission to care for abused and neglected horses. Courtesy of the Illinois Equine Humane Center

Q: How can readers help Illinois Equine Humane Center?

A: Readers can help the ILEHC by attending the Barnyard Bash or any other ILEHC event held at the farm, or by simply making a donation online at our website,

Folks can also help by volunteering. The ILEHC is an all-volunteer organization, so we rely on the kindness and grace of others to help us care for the horses and property.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, or to sign up for email notifications for future events, visit our website.

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: The ILEHC has been doing tireless work to protect horses from abuse, neglect, and slaughter for the past 15 years, and we hope with increasing and continued public support to be here for horses in need for decades to come.

Illinois Equine Humane Center

What: Barnyard Bash

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5

Where: 47W635 Beith Road, Maple Park

Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for kids 6 and older

Tickets: Purchase tickets at or at the event.Details:

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