Second Wind Rescue gives refuge to unwanted horses, rehabilitates them by giving them quality care and careful training, then gets the pleasure of adopting them to wonderful homes. Our mission is to help unwanted horses find their potential. Established in 2008, we became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization specializing in the rehabilitation of unwanted horses and adopting them compatible homes.



Vanessa Gilliam


Vanessa Gilliam is like so many little girls that grew up loving horses; always asking for a pony for Christmas. While she wasn’t able to enjoy her interest in horses as a child, she followed her passion as an adult and established Second Wind Rescue in March of 2008.

Her high school and college years surrounded volleyball. As a professional player, Vanessa traveled the world to compete in Greece and Bulgaria. But her passion was always her desire to be at home and work with horses. Her competitive spirit made rescuing horses even more important to her.

Vanessa created Second Wind with the intention of solely making money with this business, but the plan changed once she discovered that so many horses were in need of care and finding new homes. As a nonprofit, funds are always needed for vet care, stabling, food and supplies. Vanessa states, “People perceive rescued horses as not having value. So many circumstances go into rescuing and finding the best home for my horses.” With some formal training in dressage and mentoring from people in the Industry, Vanessa’s strong will and determination brought her to where she is today; being self-taught in routine care and handling of her horses.

She relates to horses by trusting her gut feeling and positive energy as she works with every horse’s behavior. Training is based on their mind and instinct, not necessarily their breed. The horses respond to her instinct and command of any challenging situation. She’s developed her own “bag of tricks” that comes in handy when dealing with difficult behaviors due to abuse and abandonment.

In 6 years, Vanessa has rescued 61 horses from 19 breeds. There’s a term used in the equine world…..Good Stock. That describes Vanessa as well as the horses that are fortunate enough to come her way.

Vanessa Gilliam



Animal Caretaker Specialist

I have always been an animal lover since i was very young. I spent most of my childhood out doors looking for bugs and lizards to catch. I first rode a horse when i was 11 years old and fell in love with these amazing animals. I was never able to have my own horse but that didn’t keep me from dreaming. I often looked online for horses for sale in my area and came across Rebel, a standard bred for sale at Second Wind Rescue. I was very excited to find a horse rescue in my area that i could get involved with. Being a part of this organization is truly a blessing. I get to work with amazing people and amazing horses. I am currently a senior at Atascadero High School and plan on attending Moor park community college in the future. I would like to get in to their EAMT (Exotic Animal Management and Training) program and hopefully one day manage a zoo.



Animal Caretaker Specialist

Hailey has been volunteering at Second Wind Rescue since April 2014. She has been riding horses since she was 5 and does multiple disciplines with them such as, barrels, rodeo, reining, team sorting and trail riding. She enjoys everyday she spends working with, caring for, and being part of the story of each horse that comes Second Wind Rescue. She looks forward to the adventures that await with each new arrival.

“Everyday at SWR is a new experience and I cant wait to live it!”

“Every horse brings new stories, experiences, fulfillment and lessons of life.”