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Ending Horse Slaughter in the U.S.

Ending Horse Slaughter in the United States with Christine Hajek

Ending Horse Slaughter in U.S.

Horse slaughter is not something many people may not give a ton of thought to in their everyday lives. That is not how it is for Christine Hajek. She founded Gentle Giants, a non-profit that seeks to end horse slaughter as well as save as many horses from abusive and neglectful homes. She tells us how she succeeds at running a non-profit and challenges societal views. 

ending horse slaughter

Gentle Giants

The Why

Christine grew up in a home that had horses and it was a small breeding farm. Like most commercial equine ventures, the horses on the farm had to earn their keep. If they were not productive, they could not be there. That meant at the end of the horse’s service, it was liquidated at an auction. This usually meant the horses did not go to a good home. Many were sold and slaughtered. Christine wanted to change that as much as possible, which brought her to founding Gentle Giants. Her quest is to rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, and rehome.

The What

Gentle Giants’ mission is what was said above. Rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, and rehome horses. She does this through many different outlets. Rescuing includes attending auctions and outbidding the meat buyers. Rehabilitating includes quarantining new horses to make sure illnesses aren’t passed, and the vet assesses for injuries and health problems. They then work on those with the horses. Retaining horses include the Sanctuary where horses can be adopted after they exit quarantine and complete training.


Rehoming includes getting horses to be adopted to good homes and providing support after they are adopted. 

The How

This can be a tricky field to get into because horses, are expensive, and many people don’t understand the scope of the problem. Christine started with a hobby. It was in her backyard, she would rescue a couple of horses at a time. As time continued, they started getting more horses and it became a little too much to do on their own. They realized they didn’t need funding, they needed volunteers. They had a decision to make. Scale back, or incorporate a non-profit. They decided to become a non-profit. This came with a lot of hard work and researching. 

ending horse slaughter


ending horse slaughter

Scaling the Business

Starting Off

Christine spent many years as a paramedic and firefighter so she was able to start with a clean slate coming into the non-profit world. The biggest mindset battle was the fact that people who work in the non-profit sector should be willing to sacrifice financial security or a competitive salary. Gentle Giants pushes against that. People can still get paid while doing good things in the world. Starting off, Christine felt that Gentle Giants should not have employees. However, she soon realized that you can’t provide adequate care and work unless the people who are doing it are fairly compensated. Volunteerism can only get you so far.

Scaling the Business

Something that is important to remember is that you need a team of people you can count on. If they are terrible you need to be able to fire them. You have to decide how you want to structure your business. You can’t scale without it. Having people you can count on is key to your business’s success.


Business Structure

Gentle Giants has bylaws. It’s not a free for all. As well as there are the standard things you need for a business. You have obligations to the IRS, as a 501, you have to keep books, the accounting, etc. But then you have to think about other things such as your mission statement and the policies you want to have. That will determine the type of people you want to work for you, and the type of business you become. You need your general goals and policies, but you also have to pay attention to the minutia of having to create policies for things like social media use with staff. For example, if we have a sudden loss at the farm, we don’t want the staff to share that until we’ve had an opportunity to announce it. What if there was a volunteer that was close to that horse and saw the social media post before we were able to call them? That can be hurtful. These policies help your business stay true to its mission and succeed in maintaining good staff and volunteers.

ending horse slaughter

Horse Slaughter

Understanding the Problem

Starving horses, abuse, and neglect still exist even though horse slaughter isn’t an option. People have the choice to take care of their horses. There are approximately 9 million horses in the U.S. and in 2020, about 140,000 horses got shipped to slaughter. That is less than 1% of the equine population. Every year almost a million horses are euthanized because of illness, injury, and end of life decline. 

ending horse slaughter

The industry doesn’t have to adapt much to absorb these “unwanted” horses that are actually not unwanted at all. The equine industry could absorb those numbers. Do the responsible thing. It’s a solvable issue.


An important clarification, everyone who buys a horse does not have to keep that horse until the day that horse dies. People can’t always do that, and that is understandable. However, there are responsible outlets to do that. Horses have feelings too just like humans, dogs, cats, etc. All we need is for the equine community to come together and we could fix the problem. Many people think that just because the animal is bigger doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel pain and sentience. Make sure you take into account what it takes to have an animal. What are the costs, and what does the care look like? If you can’t do right by it, then don’t buy it.


head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more about how I can help you achieve your business or life goals, please contact me: Miriam@leavebetter.com

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to join you on your quest for seeking the best version of you possible.

Three Steps to a Healthier You

Dr. Mike Van Theilen on a healthier you

Three Steps to a Healthier You

Three steps to a healthier you—Everyone is always looking for ways to become a healthier version of themselves. Dr. Mike Van Thielen gives some advice on the LeaveBetter Podcast with Miriam Gunn. How to get there, how to stay there, how to optimize. With his education in holistic nutrition, Dr. Mike provides ways to regain control of your health and become a healthier version of you. He also shares information about Biohacking and how it contributes to these three steps:

Step 1: Balance your Body

Step 2: Optimize Your Health

Step 3: Maximize the Benfits of Biohacking

balance your body for a healthier you

Step One: Balance Your Body

Your Normal

The first step to balancing your body is to find your “normal.” We want to find the place where you are not in any pain, and you are able to reduce the medical conditions you may currently have. According to Dr. Mike, there is one cause of disease and there is one solution. You have to find that solution. To do that we have to look at the bigger picture.


Toxemia encapsulates all the toxins in our blood that may contribute to us feeling fatigued or lethargic. Dr. Theilen feels you need to keep the toxemia in check by decreasing the intake and exposure to toxins, while increasing our intake of nutrients that fight damage. “You want to increase our intake of nutrient rich foods and decrease our intake of foods that don’t contribute to our health, like foods with a high sugar content.”

Dopamine Overload

We also need to balance our hormones. Dopamine is the reward hormone, and makes us feel good. However, because of sugary foods, social media, and other distractions, we can have a dopamine overload. 

This causes the rest of our hormones in our body to be unbalanced. This can cause fatigue, lathergy, and brain fog. Because we feel tired and lethargic, we reach out for sugar, coffee, energy drinks that helps us feel that dopamine. It becomes a viscious cycle. We need to become aware of what is causing the fatige and the brain fog, and work to eliminate or reduce it.

Eliminating Fatigue

Create an envrionment for you to focus on what you are doing. Create a system that works for you, you are the expert on what works for you. If you are working, set a time for 20 minutes and after that timer goes off, give yourself a 5 minute break.

There are different supplements that can balance your hormones and help you be more focussed.

Try different techniques and see what works best for you, where you are at, and what you are doing.



optimize your health for a healthier you

Step 2: Optimize Your Health

Your Freedom

We have the freedom to choose a healthier path. Our body and mind respond to things in so many ways, but we have the freedom to choose our response. “We have become slaves of choosing the wrong response,” says Dr. Thielen. This is the first step of optimizing our health, choosing our response to a positive, non-addictive response.

Once you practice turning those unhealthy habits into healthy habits, you feel less fatigued, and have more energy. You start becoming addicted to not feeling fatigued and feeling full of energy and vitality.



healthier you



Once we start trying to change those unhealthy habits to healthy habits, it can be hard to persevere and get to the point we want to go. It is about longevity. it comes down to sleep, exercise, nutrition, and then supplementation.

These all feed into each other in a positive way or a negative way. Those are the basics that we want to start with and maintain consistencey with.

Where are you at in your life right now?

Take a second to slow down and really think about where you are at with the basics, and that will help you find out where you need/want to go next and what habits you want to change.

Changing the Habits

There are three steps to changing your habits:

1. Knowledge: What is the problem? Where is the problem coming from?

2. Acquiring the skills: Skills are necessary to change the habit.

3. Be Willing: if you aren’t willing to work hard, you aren’t willing to change the habit. It can only come from you. No one else can do it for you. Find why you want to change the habit and that will   help you persevere and get through the tough spots.

biohacking for a healthier you

Step 3: Maximize the Benefits of Biohacking

Biohacking Explained

Biohacking is just what it sounds like—We have access to technologies, techniques, and compounds that can objectively reverse your biological age.

There are a lot of benefits that can be seen from biohacking. However, in order to see that success, you have to regain control of your health. This is why this is step three, rather than step one.

You cannot maximize the benefits of biohacking without first balancing your body, then optimizing your health.

Many of the techniques go back to the foundational things of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.

There are many things that you can do with those basic things, that don’t cost money, and don’t take a lot of work. For example, cryotherapy, using cold temperatures to promotes muscle healing and reduce inflammation, doesn’t have to be something you go and pay for. You can do it in the tub, or by taking a cold shower.

Dr. Thieln also takes biohacking compounds that work to promote biohacking. There are many different things you can do.


Remember, success comes little-by-little and every small increment counts!

If you set those little steps, you are going to be able to achieve your big goals. You won’t get there with big steps.

Find your why, and remember it while you are taking the three steps to a healthier you.

You CAN do it if you have the will power to try. Small steps in any healthy direction.

To learn more visit Dr. Mike’s website, biohackingunlimited.com


healthier you

Photo credits: Photo by Vitalii Pavlyshynets on Unsplash, photo by Braňo on Unsplash

head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more about how I can help you achieve your business or life goals, please contact me: Miriam@leavebetter.com

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to join you on your quest for seeking the best version of you possible.