The story of Ford, Norbert, Kia, Autumn, Harley, Serious, Mary, Angel, Fancy and Billie.
In October, we heard the sad story of 13 horses who were seized from a Saskatchewan farm by the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Featured on the local news, these horses had been so severely malnourished that they could barely walk. Some had been locked in a small shed for months at a time and most of them had been beaten as well. The horses were to be sold at an auction a month from the time we heard the story so we started to plan how we may be able to help them. Days later we received a phone call that plans had changed and the horses would now be sold the next day at a meat auction for cattle.
Laurisa recalls, “Without time to raise funds we drove to the auction site in Moose Jaw, with heavy hearts and only a small amount of cash, thinking that we may be able to save at least one or two.
I couldn’t bear to go in when we first arrived and by the time I worked up the nerve, the last two horses were being auctioned. I asked my friends who had been bidding if we were able to save a horse and they told me that we had 5 so far! I snuck a peak at the last two horses up at the front. They were the ugliest creatures I had ever seen — all dry skin and bones and wild eyes. I was kind of shocked to see my friend bidding on these two boys because to me they did not look like they would make it through the night and although my heart went out to
them, we really didn’t have the funds in place yet for massive vet bills. The two little stud colts were ours for only $75. Although they were already three years old, they were the size of yearlings.”
“I was so relieved to find out that none of the horses ended up with the meat buyers, but I wasn’t sure if they were all going to make it, especially the tiny weanling filly (Kia). Even if we were able to help the horses gain weight, would they ever trust people again?”
The horses are doing amazingly well. We spend hours a day working with them and they are practically bomb-proof, no longer spooking no matter what they encounter. They run to the fence at full speed, skidding to a halt and nickering loudly when it is their turn to train — responding to their names like a fast dog doing a recall. We have used only positive reinforcement with them, with the exception of removing our attention when they display unwanted behaviours such as kicking at their stall door when they want to come out and play and another horse is training. We have used absolutely no force at all.
We are so proud of how far the rescue horses have come in such a short time. They have fabulous ground manners, are all started under saddle with a lightweight rider (except Kia, the weanling filly) and have also learned some pretty cool tricks. Check out our you tube videos to see them in action.
Three of the horses were adopted right away, however, the two year old Palomino mare and her new owner were not the right match. The young horse had been subjected to some very harsh treatment in the past and her new owner’s training methods were not working well for this particular horse. She was very defensive, and scared as well as behaving aggressively (kicking and biting) toward anyone who came near her or near her food. Laurisa and her family decided to adopt “Harley” in the hopes that maybe someday she would become a riding horse.