I have always had a passion for horses, even as a child. When I was 10 years old I used to help out at a local riding stable all day to have the opportunity to ride for one hour at the end of the day. At age 14 I worked at a riding facility as the lead for trail rides and any other chores that were needed. I would spend my summers and weekends there. I did this for about 3 years.
I had always wanted a horse of my own and at 28 I purchased my first horse, Sabrina, an Arabian mare that I still own. I have owned her for 18 years and I am the only person who has ever ridden her. I love her dearly.
I became a member of the Dunnville Humane Society Board and held the positions of Director of Investigations and Director of Foster Parenting. These were volunteer positions as Haldimand County did not have Humane Society services at that time, only animal control.
In 2001 when Welland Humane Society was finally contracted to provide animal control and animal cruelty services for Haldimand County, I began employment with Welland to provide animal control and cruelty services in the County. I obtained my official Agent status through the OSPSA which provided me the authority to conduct cruelty investigations and I also was an animal control officer.
Upon leaving the Welland Humane Society to seek employment with Haldimand County Administration, I became a board member on the Welland Humane Society Board of Director - a position I held for a year.
Prior to the establishment of Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue, I rescued 2 to 4 horses a year which quickly became 4 to 6. I began to realize the great need for horse rescue as cruelty to horses is not as recognized as is with the more domestic breeds such as cats and dogs. I realized we needed an advocate to educate the public and provide a service to the public to help prevent horses from being subjected to auctions and even worse, slaughter. I needed a bigger farm.
I found the farm in Hagersville in the summer of 2007 and began to bring this dream to reality. We moved in December 2007 and the work began. We now have a 48 acre farm with a newer barn and arena. The main herd has a 23 acre paddock. We built a few smaller paddocks to house horses that need more hands on care. We have also added to the barn to accommodate more horses there. We are still building more paddocks and hope to have more separate paddocks built in 2013, however this all comes with a price tag.
We are not legally a non profit organization and receive no funding. We raise funds through donation boxes around the community and donations from the public. We sold calendars last year featuring photos of our rescues which was quite successful;, we printed 500 and sold them all. We had our 6th annual open house Garage Sale/BBQ/Tack Sale on July 13, 2013 at the rescue. The farm operates on our personal wages as Dave and I both work full time to keep it going.
We have over 30 volunteers who come out to help with chores and work with the horses. I am also a certified trainer and I to conduct clinics for the volunteers so that everyone trains horses with the same method. We use the Chris Irwin method which is a non-resistance training program. You are communicating with the horses in their language; it is a wonderful program and very effective with these rescues as many of them have behavioral issues.
We currently have 64 horses on the farm.
During our first year at this location, 2008, we brought in 42 horses, adopted 22 horses to good homes and euthanized 4 horses who could not be saved. However, at least they don’t hurt and are not hungry anymore. They have gone to a better place. To date we have helped over 180 horses and found homes for over 90.
The winter of 2012/13 proved to be our biggest challenge to date due to the racehorse industry fall out and the severe hay shortage. We took in 36 critical care horses over the winter and turned away over 80 horses. This is very difficult. We brought in triple the horses, hay prices tripled and adoptions were cut down to half due to the influx of free horses in the industry. We would normally spend an average of $8,000 in hay per year, in 2012/13 we have spent over $45,000 to date.
We completely rehabilitate the horses we take in - from feeding to training, even if they had already been ridden. We assess them over a 6 – 8 week period and take them through our full training program from leading to riding. This is so we can best match the horse to a new owner.
There is an adoption procedure in place where I interview the potential adopters, inspect their farm and the adoption contract allows me access to the horse and vet records for follow up. I do follow up and will take a horse back if I feel it is not being treated properly.
We rescue horses from local auctions, take in unwanted horses from the public when they can no longer be cared for, and help enforcement agencies with removals/surrenders.
Basically in a nutshell, I have dedicated my life to helping horses. Some ask me why people mistreat horses? My response is: "Why do people mistreat dogs, cats, children and each other?? It is out there everywhere and we can all make a difference. I have just chosen horses to be my way of making a difference. Someone has to act on their behalf."
One of Chris Irwin’s sayings that really sticks with me is: "Horses don’t lie", and it is so true. They act according to their state of mind or the environment every minute of every day; there are no hidden feelings like there are with humans.
My motto has become “Where the Whispers of Horses in Need are Heard”. I feel as though, when I go to an auction, their eyes lead to their soul; it is as if they are saying: "Please help me." This is where I get my strength to carry on this huge undertaking.
OWNER/OPERATOR: WHISPERING HEARTS HORSE RESCUE