Community

Upcoming meet-and-greet keeps horses out of slaughterhouse

Standardbred Horse Fan Club hosts an open house Sunday, to meet several horses, play games, and win prizes. - Special to The TIMES
Standardbred Horse Fan Club hosts an open house Sunday, to meet several horses, play games, and win prizes.
— image credit: Special to The TIMES

A local organization is hosting a meet-and-greet with some of its rescue horses Sunday, all while raising funds to continue saving and rehabilitating other race horses from slaughterhouses.

The Standardbred Horse Fan Club was founded by Felicia Allen 11 years ago, and saves off-track horses from race tracks in the Lower Mainland, otherwise destined for slaughter.

Typically standardbred horses, the kind that pull a person in a cart behind them and race around a track, are what Allen said "are the ones that end up at horse slaughter [facilities] the most."

Allen explained that when race horses, which are also called pacers, are no longer usable for racing – sometimes as young as two years old – they're auctioned to "killer-buyers," who slaughter the horses.

"The equestrian community has no use for the pace," she said, noting they have been trained for this one role and have to be re-trained to be rideable, walk, trot, and canter just like any regular horse.

While slaughtering horses is legal in Canada, the U.S. has suspended the practice in recent years, increasing the number of horses slaughtered at Canadian plants, Allen said.

The BC SPCA estimated 100,000 horses are slaughtered each year.

Ultimately, Allen said, these horses should "have a second chance to do what horses do so well: serve their country and their communities."

So, volunteers "go down to the race track," and take any of the unwanted horses, and look to re-home them, Allen continued.

The horses that take longer to be re-homed are brought back to Epona equestrian facility on 12266 240th Street, where volunteers help feed, re-train, and rehabilitate them.

And on Sunday, which is also national Standardbred Horse Day, for $3 per family, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents can see for themselves how the horses are transitioning from off the track.

Starting at noon until 4 p.m., children's games, mini-tractor rides, and feeding sessions for the horses in a covered arena will be ongoing, as well as photo opportunities and an appearance by Hamlet, the rescue pot-belly pig.

In the meantime, an online auction has begun on the groups website standardbredfanclub.com.

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