Rescue Horses

Moose, Rosie and Ronan shortly after their arrival

Moose, Ronan and Rosie shortly after their arrival

Moose, Ronan and Rosie
Draft-crosses born 2003,came to Stonegate Farm October 2003.

We bought these three from a local farmer who had brought several hundred weanlings from a PMU ranch in Manitoba, intending to sell what he could and ship the rest to slaughter. The hardest part for us was picking three to take home, knowing what might happen to those who were left behind.

PMU ranches keep herds of pregnant mares confined to stalls and wearing harnesses to collect their urine, which is used by pharmaceutical companies to manufacture hormone replacement drugs for women. A miserable life for the mares, and often a short life for their foals, which are merely a by-product of the industry and seen as having little value. Fortunately, the industry has been reduced to a fraction of its former size since hormone replacement therapy has been linked to cancer.

Rosie, Ronan and Moose as yearlings, 6 months after arrival

Rosie, Ronan and Moose as yearlings, 6 months after arrival

Our three were wild as hares, so our first chance to get close to them came only once we got them home. We were shocked by how thin they were underneath their shaggy coats, with hips and withers sticking out. They suffered from ring worm, and Rosie soon came down with Strangles (the other two must have had it before we got them home). Fortunately, they were quarantined and none of our other horses got sick.

Eventually all three recovered physically and also learned to trust us. Today Moose and Ronan work in our therapeutic program, but only with adults, as they are both rather large! Ronan does ground-work only, while Moose also works under saddle. We lost Rosie to severe colic in 2008. She is sadly missed. Ronan and Moose are permanent residents: they came within a whisker of the slaughter-house once. It will not happen again.

We did not intend to become a “rescue” when we bought these three, but I suppose they planted a seed…

Moose and Ronan in 2013

Moose and Ronan in 2013



Appaloosa Gelding born 1983, came to The Horse Sanctuary June 2009.

This older gentleman lost his job to a younger horse but wasn’t ready to retire. His owner offered him to our therapeutic riding program where he excelled.

Dooley carried around our most vulnerable riders, but also worked with some of the more advanced students, too, since he could be completely trusted off the lead line. His default reaction when something unexpected happened? Stop. Just what you want in a therapy horse.

Despite his very advanced age, Dooley remained fit, healthy, and willing. Our therapeutic lessons are done mostly at a walk, which is ideal exercise for an older horse, keeping him limber and fit without straining joints or tendons. Sadly, once retired, Dooley’s health declined and when the time came, he lay down and chose his own time to depart.

Always in our hearts, RIP Dooley.

Targui, standardbred gelding

Targui, Standardbred gelding

Targui –  ADOPTED
Standardbred Gelding born 2002, came to The Horse Sanctuary August 2012.

Targui was donated by his owner and trainer after his long and quite successful racing career ended. He is sound and in excellent health. Targui has strong feet and is barefoot. He’s gentle with humans, although somewhat dominant with horses in the paddock. He is a very intelligent horse who works hard to understand what is being asked of him.

Targui was initially trained by our women’s group, both on the lunge line and in other basic ground work (over poles etc.). He is now in training under saddle. From the first time we put a rider on his back, he has been steady, unspooky, and completely willing to learn.

While he understood rein aids from his racing days, leg aids were entirely foreign to him and took some time to learn. He also had no concept of bending, but is now grasping the idea of lateral bend. He accepts contact with a soft mouth and works in a frame with good impulsion.

He is a lovely horse, with conformation and head more Thoroughbred than Standardbred in appearance. He is bay and stands 15’1 hh.

We wish Targui and his new owner all the best for their future partnership!  



Tennessee Walking Horse Gelding born 1994, came to The Horse Sanctuary September 2012

Memphis was donated by his owners when keeping him was no longer feasible. Much to our delight, Memphis has proven to be an ideal therapy horse. Standing just over 15 hh but with a solid build, Memphis is small enough for side-walkers to work with, but strong enough to carry larger riders. He is a perfect gentleman, patient with his humans and unafraid of arena noises and cats popping up in strange places.

Black with a small star and four white socks, he’s a strikingly handsome fellow, and quickly became a favourite with our riders and volunteers. We expect Memphis to spend many years helping our special-needs riders experience the joy that only horses can bring.

Beau just days after his arrival Web 19 – Beau learning his manner in kindergarten class (posted May 2013)

Beau just days after his arrival

Thoroughbred Gelding born May 2, 2012, came to The Horse Sanctuary November 2012.

Beau was donated by his breeder when the Ontario racing industry collapsed. By Adena Springs stallion Mast Track and out of Northern Dancer mare Poetic Eskimo, Beau is a charming bay colt with correct conformation and a beautiful, delicate head. His lovely movement and fearless temperament suggest he may make a good eventer.

Beau has completed “kindergarten” training and has learned great ground manners.  He is currently working towards being started under saddle.  We expect Beau will make a spectacular show horse for a lucky owner.

Cisco and Beau

Cisco and Beau

Cisco (RIP)
Canadian Gelding, born 2011, came to The Horse Sanctuary November 2012.

Cisco was rescued from a slaughter-house feedlot. He was a big-framed, big-boned colt with an elegant head, clean, straight legs and strong feet. He was solid black with no white markings.

Cisco and one of our volunteers in horse kindergarten

Cisco and one of our volunteers in horse kindergarten

From his first day here, Cisco amazed us with his calm temperament and sweet nature. He handled new situations with the composure of a seasoned show veteran, and enjoyed human company. In “kindergarten” class Cisco learned quickly and remembered lessons well.

UPDATE:  Sadly, after contracting an aggressive bacterial infection, Cisco succumbed to kidney failure. He was humanely euthanized on January 31st, 2015  We will miss his kind gentle nature.  His passing is a reminder that life is precious.


Trinity just days after her arrival

Percheron-cross Filly, born spring 2012, came to The Horse Sanctuary December 2012.

Trinity came to us severely underweight and in very poor physical condition. After a de-worming regimen and months of proper nutrition, Trinity has finally begun to look and act like a real horse, with a sparkle in her eye. The swelling in her fetlocks has resolved, and good farrier work eliminated her lameness. Her bones are well covered and her coat is shiny.

Trinity has completed “kindergarten” training, and is now one of the top horses in the herd. We expect no long-term ill effects from her poor start in life.  Trinity is now learning to lunge, and will be started under saddle this spring.



Mouse (adopted)
Hackney Horse-cross Gelding, born 2010, came to The Horse Sanctuary April 2013

We bought this youngster sight unseen through another horse rescue from OLEX (Ontario Livestock Exchange). Imagine our very pleasant surprise when this gorgeous young horse walked off the trailer. Impossible to imagine why such a lovely horse could be headed for slaughter!

Mouse is sweet to work with, and has been neatly clipped (ears, leg feathers), so he was obviously cared for at some point. On the other hand, he has an old injury on his right hind which looks like a wire cut, and his feet, while, trimmed, have not been trimmed well. Our wonderful farriers will fix that quickly enough.

Mouse excelled at training, and has since been adopted out.  He is doing very well and is enjoying life as a pleasure/trail horse.  Happy Trails Mouse!


Taffy on arrival at Horseplay

QH x Belgian mare, born 1993
Came to The Horse Sanctuary  May 2013

One of two lovely mares whose owners could no longer keep them due to change in circumstances. Taffy came to us with more serious issues than expected. While we were able to place her friend Joules, the younger of the two mares, no one was willing to open their home to Taffy – 20 years old and badly foundered. Taffy’s feet hurt her so much that she spent most of her time lying down to keep the weight off them. She was afraid to walk into the barn, terrified when she lost sight of her friend, and panic-stricken when tied. Being seriously overweight was not helping her feet, either.

We had a difficult decision to make about Taffy’s future. However, our wonderful farriers Carmen Theobald and Rodd Turnbull stepped up and offered their services pro bono to give Taffy the intensive corrective shoeing she needed to mitigate the effects of the founder and relieve her pain. By the time her feet were trimmed and her special shoes fitted, Taffy had visibly relaxed and was licking her lips and chewing – the sign of a happy horse. She has been sound and happy since, turned out on a soft surface, put on a strict diet to lose weight, and working in the sandy arena. We have not seen her lie down outside once!

Patience and kindness was all Taffy needed to deal with her panic and fear issues. She now cross-ties confidently, and after some re-training, began working as a therapy horse. Her riders and volunteers love her. Welcome to the herd, Taffy!

A little colour for Horseplay

A little colour for Horseplay

River (adopted)
Kentucky Mountain Horse / Paint cross gelding
Born 2011, arrived June 2013

River was a “surprise foal” for his dam’s new owners who realized, a few months before he was born, that their new mare was pregnant.  River was placed in a new home after weaning, and seemed to be set for life, until his new owner ran out of resources to support him. River has had an excellent foundation in groundwork. He leads, ties, trailers, co-operates with the vet and farrier, and generally behaves like a young gentleman. We are teaching him to lunge, and will introduce him to tack this fall.

River did so well with training, that he has been adopted and now has his very own family, and a doting owner.  We wish this nice fellow all the best, and a bright future.


Thoroughbred Filly born 2012, Purchased at auction April 2014, Was “Callie”, out of “Calina”, by “Seeking the best”.

2012 Filly, "Kate"

2012 Filly, “Kate”

Kate was one of 40 horses left on a repossessed Thoroughbred breeding farm and shipped to auction by the bank. One of a group of 7 horses rescued by a group organized by Horseplay Sanctuary, Kate is busy eating her way back to a healthy body weight, having come to us with a body condition score of 1 – as low as it can go. A nasty case of lice and an infestation of worms have made her life even more miserable. Kate has a long road to recovery.  Still, she has perked up considerably with a steady supply of food and water, and now greets us with bright eyes and a surprising amount of spunk. She loves scratches behind the ears and hanging out in the arena with the big girls (see below) while her stall is cleaned. Once she’s more strong and fit, she’ll be heading outside to enjoy the sunshine and green grass we’re so eagerly anticipating.

UPDATE:  Kate, now healed from her ordeal, has blossomed into a nice young lady.  While small, due to her near starvation, Kate shows great personality, and spunk.  Her favourite past time?  Sleeping.  Now strong enough to stand up on her own, she is often found asleep in her stall, or whatever hay pile she can find.

Kate will be starting her training this spring and we expect she will make a very nice large pony sized hunter/jumper.

Bold Mist, 1996 Thoroughbred Mare out of “Moon Mist”, by “Bold Executive”.  Purchased at auction April 2014

Naomi, "Bold Mist"

Naomi, “Bold Mist”

We thought Kate (see above) was as skinny as a horse could get and still be able to stand up – until we saw Naomi. Her condition can only be described as shocking. She was emaciated, with no muscle on her topline, her neck, her shoulders. It was possible to count every vertebra from poll to tail. She had been so tormented by lice and rain rot that much of the hair on her back and hindquarters was gone, replaced by crusty patches of bare skin. She has a fat left foreleg from a suspected old tendon injury, a bump on the inside of her right knee, reportedly from fracture, and in spite of all that she walks with graceful elegance that covers that ground effortlessly. Someday, we hope, she will regain the physical beauty to go with her beautiful character, which remains people-loving, gentle and sweet.  All this in a horse who had a limited, yet successful racing career, she won a stakes race (Victorian Queen Stakes), and was top three in each of her 7 starts

UPDATE:  Now recovered and healthy again, Naomi has been successfully restarted under saddle, and her training s going very well.  While she will never be sound enough for strenuous work, we hope that she might find a place as a therapy horse.  She has a big stride and is both calm, and confident.


Paula (adopted)
Thoroughbred Mare born 2011.  Was “Cricket”, out of “Amazing Miss”.  Purchased at auction April 2014

Paula was in the best physical condition of the horses we brought directly from the auction, although she, too, was hundreds of pounds underweight. She has a lovely head with gentle eyes, but no shortage of personality. Paula is nicely put together, but has a severe overbite which, judging by the amount of hay she’s put away daily, does not interfere with her ability to eat. Paula enjoys attention, and is sure to blossom into a beautiful mare once she’s returns to her correct weight.

UPDATE:  Paula was started under saddle and has found a new home.  Well done young lady!


Little Man

"Max", our Little Man.  RIP

“Max”, our Little Man. RIP

Was “Max”.  2012 Thoroughbred Colt out of “On My Radar”, by “Leonattus Anteus”.

The fourth horse we brought back from the auction – a 2012 Colt suffering from suspected gas colic and a massive umbilical hernia he’d had since birth was sadly beyond saving. The ravages of poor nutrition, and lack of care had taken a heavy toll.  Our veterinarian humanely euthanized this sweet, friendly colt to end his suffering. RIP Little Man.


Leon (RIP)

2012 Thoroughbred Colt, out of “Winning Idea”, by “Leonattus Anteas”

Leon, 2012 Colt

Leon, 2012 Colt

While not part of the original group of 7, Leon, was found at a different auction, a few days later, and purchased from the dealer who owned him.  Leon is underweight, but strong, and attentive.  He is sturdy, and seems to have survived his previous conditions much better than some of his herd mates.  As a colt, Leon will be gelded when he is healthy, and evaluated for suitability for inclusion in our therapy program where young horses receive care, and training by at risk youth.

UPDATE:  Leon recovered, and blossomed after his tough start in life however tragically, Leon was lost to colic in February 2015.  We had such great hopes for this stunning young horse.  He is dearly missed.