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!
Lillian Tepera owns and operates The Horse Sanctuary, a registered charity since 2013, out of Stonegate Farm in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, alongside her husband Robert. It is governed by a five-member volunteer Board, which includes a veterinarian and a farrier.
Lillian’s passion for helping horses and humans connect led her to establish a therapeutic riding program in 2007. She said their mandate is twofold – to provide horse experiences to individuals with special needs or that are at risk, and to rescue horses. She explained that they work with local social service agencies, and that most of the therapeutic work is mounted, but some is grooming and groundwork. She noted that besides the physical benefits – balance, coordination, muscle strength – working with horses improves confidence and empowerment, particularly for victims of abuse and emotional trauma.
Lillian said she was motivated to start the rescue operation by the terrible circumstances in which she observed many horses living and dying, but that the final push to apply for charitable status and launch the rescue was the collapse of the Ontario racing industry in 2012, a very poor hay yield that drove prices sky-high and resulted in underfed and homeless horses, as well as the lingering effects of the recession, which made it difficult for many people to keep their horses and provide adequate care.
Rescues come to The Horse Sanctuary from auctions and feedlots, through neglect and abandonment cases and owner surrenders. Some require considerable rehabilitation related to starvation and untreated medical issues, before they can be trained or restarted under saddle. Lillian said that while they do adopt horses out to suitable homes following a thorough application process, that often they have a longer-term focus, with many of horses becoming long-term or lifetime residents. To date, they have taken in 43 horses. Of those, 10 are either too old, or compromised by health issues to be adopted, so they will remain at the rescue.
The Horse Sanctuary has received funding from a variety of sources, including the Trillium Foundation, the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area, the Gryphon Guild, Costco, PetSmart Charities, and from fundraising events they host at the facility.