• James Armstrong

A Horse Tale Rescue wins prestigious national award for exceptional work


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Vaudreuil-Dorion based A Horse Tale Rescue recently took first place in a Canada-wide ‘Hero of the Horse’ award for their work in providing a healthy environment for rescued and retired horses. Executive Director Mike Grenier, pictured here with one of the equine residents named Ulysses, says he hopes to continue expanding the facilities to welcome more horses in the future.

A Horse Tale Rescue (AHT) has won Horse Canada’s 2019 ‘Hero of the Horse’ award in recognition of the hard work and dedication of horse people across Canada.

“We were the only horse rescue operation in Quebec to be nominated for the award,” AHT Executive Director Mike Grenier told The Journal.

Grenier said AHT was honoured and proud to have been selected from a field of 10 finalists for the award and the organization will be receiving a trophy, $2,000, a dozen blankets from Canadian Saddlery and have their story featured in the November/December issue of Horse Canada Magazine.

“It was a team effort,” said Grenier describing the voting process that took place on social media platforms during the final voting phase. “We had three times more votes than the second-place runner up.”

Safe space for rescued horses

The horse rescue operation located in Vaudreuil-Dorion on the edges of Saint-Lazare and Hudson is a volunteer-based non-profit charity organization that began in 2012.

“We offer a second chance to horses and humans,” Grenier said with a smile. “We’re doing well and growing,” With over 260 members and 70 active volunteers, AHT provides a safe, secure and healthy space for a variety of horses and ponies rescued from a range of situations. Some of the horses are retired from the calèche industry in Montreal. Others are there because former owners could no longer maintain and care for them.

“They are here to live out the rest of their lives,” said Grenier. AHT provides well balanced diets, veterinary services, and plenty of fresh air and exercise. “We don’t ride the horses for a variety of reasons,” he said, noting it was predominantly for safety issues for both horse and human.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

AHT Executive Director Mike Grenier credits the large group of volunteers for keeping things running smoothly at their Vaudreuil-Dorion facility.

Organization

Situated on five acres of land nestled into a curve of Murphy Road with Highway 40 in the background, AHT is currently an oasis of calm for nine horses and one pony. The barn has 12 stalls thus limiting the capacity to 12 horses. Grenier estimated it costs about $100,000 per year to operate the facility with the constant efforts of dedicated volunteers.

“We have three feeding times per day, 365 days a year,” he said. Three volunteers are required per feeding to make certain it all happens safely and according to the dietary and medication needs of each horse. “We have a volunteer coordinator, a barn manager and a calendar schedule,” Grenier said. New volunteers receive training, as they become part of team. “One of those animals weighs up to 2000 pounds,” he said. There are rules in place that must be followed to ensure the safety of the volunteers and the horses.

AHT Experience program

The AHT Experience program began in 2017 and is offered free of charge to community groups that support individuals with developmental, intellectual and/or physical challenges including learning institutions and caregiver support groups. “Horses can give so much more than riding,” said Grenier. “Each horse has a story and each volunteer has a story.” He described AHT as a safe space for the volunteer to put their world on ‘pause’ and experience what the horses have to offer.

“When you join here, you are treated with respect. Everyone has something to offer.” For example, the Muckateers are a group of young adults on the autism spectrum who spend time onsite interacting with the horses and helping out with cleaning the barn and paddocks. “When you pick up poop, that’s called mucking,” said Grenier of the group’s name. It’s the interaction of horse and human that’s important.

“It’s mind-blowing to see how they come out of their shells,” he said. Each visit is carefully planned with a coordinator from the visiting group.

Future expansion

“We need to grow,” Grenier said. “We have to turn away 10 to 12 horses per year.” There’s a need for space for rescued animals, storage for feed, space for volunteers and visitors, and facilities to accommodate them comfortably. AHT and Grenier have a vision, a plan and a goal. “We need indoor space for year-round activities,” said Grenier. The plan is to rent or purchase agricultural land on the opposite side the road from their current location and build a new barn. The goal is to raise $2 million for the project. The vision is to extend volunteer involvement with the creation of walking trails for horses and humans, cross country skiing trails, and a large organic garden.

Fundraising

AHT relies on memberships, donations and sponsorships to maintain its operations. A fundraising benefit is scheduled for Saturday, October 5 at Hudson’s Château du Lac featuring the music of Gary White, a silent auction, and appetizers. Tickets are $30 each and are available for purchase online at www.ahtrescue.org. AHT also hosts an annual barbecue and open house in July to raise funds and awareness about their activities.

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