It’s time to cast your vote for your favourite Hero of the Horse. You may vote once a day, from now until September 15th. Please spread the word and help recognize the efforts of these exceptional horse people.
The winner’s story will be featured in the November/December issue of Horse Canada and they will receive a trophy, along with $2,000 to continue their work. PLUS, Canadian Saddlery will donate 12 blankets of any size (234 Goliath Regular Neck Turnout or 235 Mid Neck Turnouts) – a $2,100 value!
Bear Valley Rescue, located near Sundre, Alberta, is run by Kathy Bartley and her husband Mike, and is dedicated to Kathy’s father, Louis Kelemen Sr. It was founded in 2004 and registered as a charity the following year. It is also the first Canadian horse sanctuary verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, an organization which identifies legitimate animal sanctuaries, with strict standards that have to be met in order to be accredited.
Bear Valley Rescue began their mission to help mares and foals in the pregnant-mare urine (PMU) industry, and have since helped save at least 1,000 horses from different circumstances. Healthy, sound animals are put up for adoption. Sick, injured or abused horses are rehabilitated and either remain at the rescue or are fostered out as companion animals. They typically house around 150 horses at any given time, with approximately 40 permanent residents, 60 adoptable horses, 50 available for fostering, and another 40 living in foster homes. There is a strict application process for anyone looking to adopt or foster, which includes the condition that mares must not be bred, for example.
Ultimately, their mission is to promote animal welfare and educate the public on the predicament that unwanted and aging animals are found in. This year, they initiated an intern program whereby volunteers, Canadian and international, can stay at the farm for a minimum of one month and help care for the horses and other animals on a daily basis. They have also started an education program in which volunteers host tours of their facility for the public, including children’s groups.
Kathy says volunteers are a big part of the rescue, helping in various ways including caring for and interacting with the horses, organizing fundraising events, picking up donated items, arranging online sales of used tack and other items, and manning booths at local markets to raise awareness about the rescue.