The Hudson, Quebec, non-profit A Horse Tale Rescue has made news before. In fact, AHT won the Horse-Canada Hero of the Horse Award in 2019. The group, which houses a herd of rescue horses that range from draft horses including former Old Montreal carriage horses, to warmbloods and paints, has been giving back to the community during the pandemic.
Rusty, a 25-year-old Belgian and ex-carriage horse, came to AHT Rescue in February 2020, just before the pandemic stopped the world. According to the group’s website, Rusty “settled in very well and quite quickly. He needed to gain some weight and build some muscle. A care program was established to accomplish both.”
Fast forward to 2021 and now Rusty is lighting up the lives and warming the hearts of men and women at neighboring long-term care facilities and retirement homes. As has been widely reported in the news since the start of Covid-19, these elderly residents are often lonely and feel isolated, as many have been cut off from family and friends.
Looking at the photos of the residents petting Rusty outside their facility makes you realize how healing ‒ both emotionally and physically ‒ horses are. In the photo at the left, a resident hugs Rusty, and you can imagine the comfort that embrace brings.
AHT refers to these visits as their “experience program” which was launched in 2017. The program’s equine-assisted guided interactions are free to groups with mental health, physical or other special needs, including community support groups, learning institutions and certain frontline professions. Each visit is custom-tailored to the specific needs of the group or institution.