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!
In 2011, Kimberly Lyons and her daughter, Jodi Miller, took in some foster horses, saved from the slaughter pipeline, at their farm near Stonewall, Manitoba. Two years later, they began operating Blackbird Ranch Equine Rescue and Rehab as a non-profit out of the facility, and are now in the process of registering for charitable status.
Blackbird Ranch has helped rescue and rehabilitate close to 100 horses, and has found homes for 75 of them. Kimberly said they learned quickly it’s a myth that only sick, old and untrained horses are sent to slaughter. Because of this, she and her daughter aim to give auction horses a second chance to show what they’re capable of. They also take owner surrenders, neglect cases and a variety of horses with behavioural issues, which, she said, are mostly abuse and trust issues. She added that they have a soft spot for those that no one else will look twice at – the broken and discarded horses, the ones that define the very meaning of rescue.
There are currently close to 50 horses on the farm. Five belong to Kimberly, 13 are boarded by volunteers, 15 are unadoptable and will stay at Blackbird Ranch for the remainder of their days, and the rest are in the process of being rehabbed and retrained, or awaiting adoption. Kimberly is very selective when rehoming the horses, careful to find the right fit for each one.
Kimberly says their dedicated group of volunteers step up to help with everything around the farm from horse care and handling to barn maintenance and yard work, as well as offering a hand at fundraisers and special events. She says each volunteer has an important role, and it’s amazing to see the horses respond to their kindness, as they learn to trust people and transform into excellent companions and riding partners.