“Man I love my horses, each one with a different personality. A life without horses would be so boring…HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR HORSES TODAY, I DID.” -Exerpt from Melinda Stever’s Facebook status.
Melinda’s facebook status says it all. She loves horses.
But Melinda doesn’t just love horses, she saves them — or helps to save them, anyhow.
As another interesting example of how social media has changed our world, Melinda Stever was contacted via facebook by Rescue Mamas, a horse rescue organization started up by two sisters in Alberta.
Rescue Mamas goes to horse auctions in Alberta, looking for horses they think might be bought by what they call “kill buyers” who buy horses for meat at these auctions and then ship them to the slaughterhouse where they are slaughtered.
Many of these horses are simply victims of unfortunate circumstances, with owners who perhaps got in over their heads with too many horses or owners who no longer need the horse or consider it useless to them.
But many of these horses are still good horses, and can be very useful for the right owner, some are even papered, and it didn’t seem quite right to Stever.
So when she was approached by Rescue Mamas to help save a horse, she did, and for $250 she paid to save a 10-month-old registered foal.
One thing led to another and she and her partner Andrew have now rescued three horses from the slaughterhouse, putting up the money to save them at the auction, and then putting them up for adoption through Rescue Mamas. The money paid for the adoption then refunds the cost of saving the horse from the auction.
Andrew calls her efforts “saving the world one horse at a time.’
One of the horses was a 17-hand-high Belgian draft horse named Rose, and Andrew had fallen in love with the photo of the mare, so the couple had planned on travelling to Alberta to pick her up. But the horse ended up contracting a virus and they decided to not bring the mare home in case she would have infected their other horses.
But Melinda isn’t planning on rescuing horses forever through the Rescue Mamas organization, instead, she would like to start helping horses a little closer to home.
“It’s always been my dream to work with rescued horses all my life, even when I lived in New Brunswick, but didn’t know that it was actually this bad,” she said.
While she was working on a horse farm in New Brunswick she had her first experience with a rescued horse. When they went to look at the standardbred gelding, he was all bones, she said, and his main and tail were so knotted they had to cut them off.
Her boss at the horse farm rescued him initially, and Stever got to break him and became attached, so when her boss was going to have to sell him because of her financial difficulties, Stever bought the horse with her own line of credit.
“It was either that or slaughter, which was the sad thing,” she said. “I fell in love with him and took him home.”
That horse later found another good home and now Melinda hopes to help more horses here in the west. In the east, she hadn’t been to a horse auction.
She said they don’t have horse auctions there, but out in western Canada, we have quite a few, the local one taking place in Vanderhoof.
But it isn’t necessarily just the killing the horses for meat which she disagrees with so much.
“I think the biggest thing that convinced me to start helping rescue horses is there was a big thing on the news,” explains Stever.
The “thing” she is referring to is a CBC investigative report which showed graphic footage done by The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition of horses in poor conditions being held in crowded pens waiting to be killed, and other questionable practices within the slaughterhouse itself.
The program helped spur Stever to want to do something more, and now she would like to take what she is learning from Rescue Mamas and apply it locally, saving good horses from similar fates.
She is only beginning to look at how she might go about it, but she hopes to work with others in the community who are interested in helping horses. Ideally, she’d like to raise awareness about good horses going through these auctions enough to start a local non profit group to save some from the local auctions.
“I’m really hoping that I can see some of these horses have a second chance,” she says.
Anyone interested in working with Melinda Stever to help horses can contact her at 250-996-2247.