Bill reported the abuse via the computer to the OSPCA Sunday and several people answered my desperate cry for help. On Tuesday evening a wonderful neighbor talked with us and said: call the police. Tell them the trainer is never to step foot on your farm again. Then get the owner who hired him off your property. It is YOUR property and abuse of animals on it is not tolerated. End of story.
We called the police minutes later. Two patrol cars came at 9:30. When the officers left they said they’d contact the “trainer” that night (I’m figuring that happened after 10:30 P.M.) and that if he came on the property we were not to confront him, but to call them. The police asked if the trainer (who doesn’t speak English) knew that he wasn’t allowed on the property. We both said, “Yes”. BUT that he came daily in spite of our wishes… thus explaining why we were talking with the police! I said we’d contact the Paso owner who hired the trainer and have him translate for us.
I placed a sign on the gate to the farm laneway saying the trainer was not allowed on our property and if he did step foot on it to call the York Region Police. I gave the police number and the case file number. I also posted the York Region Police number beside the barn phone in the lower barn.
That night at 12:30 I emailed every person I knew who had seen Tabasco.
Earlier that day a friend spoke with the OSPCA and gave me an email address for people to use to contribute information on the Tabasco file. I included that address in my email.
Wednesday morning before 8:00 I emailed the OSPCA outlining what I saw the day after the incident. I received a voice message from the OSPCA at 9:30. I called back and left a message. I received another voice message and this time the lady left her cell phone number. I reached her before 1:00. She asked if the owner was on the property. The answer was yes. She said she and an officer were scheduled to be at our farm that afternoon, but now they would leave immediately. Hopefully the owner would still be on the farm when they arrived. If he weren’t, they would go to his house and talk with him.
I called Bill, brought him up to date and asked him to come home as soon as possible. He was here when the OSPCA officers arrived at 2:30. They asked him to introduce them to the Paso owner so that he would understand that they were allowed on the property. Bill walked with them to the upper barn, introduced them to the Paso owner, then left. The OSPCA officials (wearing bulletproof vests) had a lengthy discussion with the owner who had hired the abusive trainer.
The officers met with us after the talk. They said that the owner answered all of their questions and that he said he would respect our wishes and not have the trainer on the property. He also guaranteed that he would have nothing to do with the trainer. The officers told the owner they would return and talk with him again. At that time they will have written instructions for him so that he knows how to care for his horses.
The OSPCA officials said it was good that we contacted the police and that they would be working with the police regarding the trainer. The fact that the trainer had abused horses on other properties and had a daily job on a large Thoroughbred training farm was very disturbing to them. They will be working with the police to make certain that the trainer does not deal with horses.
What a relief! As the officers drove away I realized the incredible strain I’d been under. It started that morning when I was doing liberty work with Zelador in the arena. The Paso owner arrived and Zelador left me and ran to the arena door. He was fixated on something outside (to the south of the arena. I’m guessing that the man was leading a Paso to a paddock). I called to Zelador and he ignored me. I walked over, gave him a treat and asked him to trot. He exploded forward, still looking to the south and then he bucked and KICKED the wall. He’s NEVER done that. A few seconds later he was happily doing his liberty work. When we were done I walked to the arena door where I’d placed his lead rope and halter. He joined me, standing VERY tall.
For the first time I was not able to place the halter on his head. I got it over one ear, but couldn’t reach up high enough to place it over the other.
I walked around him, got the halter on properly and he still kept his head HIGH. Talk about body language. I’m guessing that he was getting vibes from the Paso and these bits of information had him at the ALERT.
As the day progressed I had to remind myself to BREATHE deeply and not think about, “What if the trainer shows up? What if he comes onto the property? Exactly what would happen if the police had to come here?” Breathe!!!!!
The trainer has not come to our farm. The sign still hangs on the farm gate.
Every night I check on the Pasos in the upper barn. Tabasco is very nervous. I placed the water bucket on the floor. He skittered away from the sound. The good news is: he’s moving his feet. That’s better than standing still and shaking.
Several of the people who emailed the OSPCA also sent their emails to me. Here are some of them. I’m guessing that between Sunday night and Wednesday morning the OSPCA received quite a bit of information and were more than willing to act quickly.
I am writing to inform you of a situation that requires your immediate assistance. At the corner of the 8th Concession and 15th Sdrd, there is an equestrian facility called Winsong Farm. The owners have two barns on the property. One is for their personal use and the other is leased. I dropped by to visit last weekend and happened to walk into the upper barn (leased). There were two horses in there that had been clearly abused. Both of these horses had considerable scarring on their noses and both were very frightened when I reached out to them.
I asked the owner of the facility what had happened and he confirmed that they had been abused. This is unacceptable. I am writing you so that something may be done. Apparently the abuse was witnessed and documented. The owners of this farm are very distraught over this situation. I sincerely hope that the OSPCA addresses this with the severity it deserves and in a timely manner so that the people that were involved do not commit these atrocious acts again.
(I withheld the name)
I am an avid supporter of the OSPCA and have participated in several fundraising initiatives for the OSPCA, through horse riding/performances.
Currently, I am boarding a young horse at Winsong Farm in Nobleton, Ontario and have the opportunity to ride other horses there too. Recently, while at Winsong visiting my horse and waiting for the arena to clear so I could use it to ride in, I wandered up to the arena to see how long I would have to wait until the horse that was being worked, would take. I am not an expert in training horses however I have been involved in the training process of a few horses for the past several years. What I saw in the arena that day disturbed me greatly. A Paso Fino gelding named Tabasco was being “worked” with what seemed like ropes around each leg and lots of other “equipment” that I’ve never seen before. The horse was obviously distressed and seemed terrified. His whole body was shaking and his eyes were wide with fear. My gut feeling was, what I saw was not right. The trainer with the horse, after seeing that I was watching, quickly gathered up the horse and brought him back into the adjacent stable. I visited Winsong again two days later and walked to the upper stable to see Tabasco in his stall. I was shocked at what I saw. The most obvious was the swelling on his face from the noseband of the halter or bridle that was used on him. This area was raw and beginning to scar, and had obviously been bleeding. The scarring area was/is at least 3″ across his face and approx 1″ wide. His legs are a mess too. Additionaly disturbing is that this horse is being worked further with halters/bridles over this swelled/scarred area. Like I said, I am not an expert in training methods but I know that whatever the trainer is doing to this horse is nothing short of abuse.
Other than sending you this note, I am not sure what else I can do to help protect this horse. I know that if I see anything like this again, I will not be able to control myself in minding my own business. I would appreciate your advise. I am happy to speak with you further on this issue. Please fee free to contact me anytime.
(I withheld the name)