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Collaboration is key

Partnerships, Accreditations & Awards

The Humane Education Coalition is an international alliance for collective impact. The mission of the Coalition is to advance the field of humane education for the betterment of all living things. The Coalition collaborates with partners in the human rights, environmental ethics, and animal protection sectors to achieve common goals, support their work, and foster respect and compassion among their constituents.

DEFHR is committed to taking part in the Humane Education Coalition’s mission to advance the field of humane education. As a Coalition partner, we are joining a growing worldwide community of agencies who are working toward a compassionate and sustainable future for all people, animals, and the planet. To learn more about the Humane Education Coalition visit their website at

DEFHR is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was formed in 2007 by leaders in the animal protection field for the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries worldwide. Through a rigorous accreditation process, GFAS identifies sanctuaries and rescue facilities that provide animals with the highest standards of care, by conducting a thorough evaluation of facilities, finances, veterinary care, staffing and much more. GFAS accreditation helps to professionalize the equine rescue/​sanctuary industry and provides credibility for donors, potential adopters and law enforcement agencies who seek reputable organizations.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance awarded accredited status to DEFHR in 2015 based on evaluation of operations, education, horse health care management, facility standards and services, and adoption policies and protocols.

As a partner in The Right Horse Initiative, DEFHR, is proud to support a national movement reframing the conversation about equine adoption. The Right Horse Initiative is a collective of industry professionals and equine welfare advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition through a dialogue of kindness and respect.

DEFHR is working with The Right Horse Initiative to promote the bond between horses and humans. We are good people for good horses, and everyone who loves horses has ownership in this movement. To learn more about The Right Horse Initiative, visit or click here to find out how you can help.

DEFHR consistently holds high ratings with Charity Navigator, America’s largest, independent charity evaluator. Charity Navigator, the nonprofit sector’s premier trust indicator, evaluates more than 9,000 of the nations largest charities and is accessed more than 11 million times annually.  Charity Navigator is committed to ensuring that donors can give with confidence knowing the organizations that are highly rated on Charity Navigator efficiently steward donations and are accountable and transparent. Charity Navigator is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not charge the organizations that they evaluate, ensuring that their ratings remain objective.

DEFHR proudly holds America’s Best Charities Seal of Excellence. America’s Best Charities (ABC) is and IRS-​recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of the nation’s finest charities.  Its purpose is to represent charities that meet the highest standards of public accountability and program effectiveness and to facilitate gifts to those charities from contributors in fund drives conducted at work and on the web.

DEFHR holds a Platinum seal of transparency, the highest transparency rating offered by GuideStar. GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information, with more than 1.6 million active nonprofits, on nonprofit organizations. Gathering and providing access to the most comprehensive, up-​to-​date, and accurate nonprofit information available. Their mission is to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enabling users to make better decisions, and encouraging charitable giving. GuideStar is a 501(c)(3) public charity. GuideStar lists information on every nonprofit registered with the IRS as tax exempt, as well as data on former nonprofits, obtaining the information from the nonprofits themselves, the federal government, and partners in the nonprofit sector.

In 2020, the Maryland Horse Council Foundation (MHCF), a 501c3 non-​profit organization, was created as a permanent home for the Maryland Horse Council’s charitable endeavors such as DEFHR Owner-​to-​Owner program. MHCF is a partial sponsor of DEFHR’s Owner-​to-​Owner program (formerly knows as the Maryland Equine Transition Services (METS)) which was an MHCF pilot initiative that was absorbed by DEFHR in 2022.  The Maryland Horse Council, Inc (MHC) is a 501(c)(6) trade association that represents all segments of the Maryland horse industry, at the state and local level. MHC has been representing the Maryland horse industry for over 35 years. MHC works to represent, connect and educate all members of the Maryland equestrian community.

As a BBB Accredited Charity, meeting all 20 BBB Charity Standards. BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-​based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of publicly-​soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. BBB Standards for Charity Accountability address four areas of charity accountability: governance, results reporting, finances, and truthful transparent communications. There is no charge to charities for the accountability assessment and the resulting reports are freely accessible on BBB Wise Giving Alliance along with its predecessor organizations have been reporting on charities for more than 100 years.

DEFHR is proud to be one of the original 35 Horse Discover Centers, a network launched in April 2015 by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB). These certified centers are part of a volunteer program of already licensed stables that welcome the general public of all ages and experience levels to learn about horses in a knowledgeable and friendly environment. The breadth and diversity of the stables in the Horse Discovery Center network is wide and deep. They range from trail riding centers to Western riding operations to horse rescues to stables offering summer camps, and more! Geographically, they are located in all regions of the state. The MHIB invited its more than 700 licensed stables to volunteer to become a Horse Discovery Center if they were willing to meet stringent criteria and eagerly welcome newcomers to learn about horses and horsemanship. Criteria includes proof of commercial liability insurance; written programs and procedures addressing safety rules and public outreach; clean, sanitary conditions, equipment, and facilities; and, of course, well cared for and healthy horses!

DEFHR maintains a Blue Ribbon of Equine Excellence from the Forever Foundation. This Plan4Progress® certification of excellence is a program geared to help facilities transitioning equines to place more horses into forever homes. The program strives to create a national standard of hands-​on training practices through ready-​made, adaptable training templates that promote consistency and efficiency when approaching and handling horses. As a Forever Foundation participant and equine excellence award recipient, DEFHR has embraced the program, enabling continual growth and development in equine training and adoption programs. Equine rescue organizations across the United States are seeing an increase in the number of horses finding their forever homes with their participation in the program. Together, we’re changing the perception of the rescue horse and promoting adoption as a preferred option.

DEFHR’s 58 acres of land is permanently preserved under Howard County’s Farmland Forever program, permanently restricting development. Preserving Maryland’s farmland ensures protection of natural resources and local scenery that are rapidly disappearing due to urban sprawl. This designation enables DEFHR to contribute to the local agricultural industry through its operation as a local farm business, its offerings of farm-​related employment opportunities, and the promotion of tourism. This protected land benefits the environment by ensuring sound soil and water conservation practices to protect from erosion and contamination, recharge ground water, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and offset climate change. Open farmlands like DEFHR are important for providing critical habitat for wildlife populations while promoting and protecting biodiversity. Howard County, Maryland, has preserved over 23,000 acres of farmland in the last 40 years, and DEFHR is proud to be contributing to the preservation of Maryland’s beautiful lands and rich agricultural history. Our hope is that horses continue to graze these fields for decades to come.

DEFHR has been accredited by the EQUUS Foundation as a Mentor in 2022 & 2023. A Mentor Accreditation is awarded annually to an organization that meets the EQUUS Foundation’s highest standards for business and equine welfare practices.

The EQUUS Foundation is dedicated to protecting our nation’s horses and strengthening the bond between humans and horses. The Mentor Designation is awarded each year to organizations the meet the highest standards of equine welfare and business practices. In addition, Mentor organizations have also already met the requirements as a Member on the Equine Welfare Network and attained the EQUUS Foundation Guardian designation, as well as received an EQUUS Foundation grant for a minimum of two consecutive years, and completed an approved site visit.

Memberships & Associations

Organizations That Support DEFHR

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