‘I’m in heaven’: From Vancouver to horse sanctuary in Salmon Arm
A few short years ago, Carly Jones worked as a finance manager in the Lower Mainland.
“I drove around in my nice, fancy little BMW and had beautiful hair and was always clean,” Jones said. “My nails were always done.”
But that would all change when, during a camping trip to the Okanagan, Jones and her husband spontaneously purchased a farm.
Unexpectedly, Jones found herself warming up, very quickly, to farm life.
“I had a lady come and ask if I would take in four of her horses that she had just rescued,” Jones said. “So I did it and that was the end of it.”
Once Jones found out that so many horses needed rescue from neglect and abuse, she couldn’t ignore the situation.
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“As I got into finding out why horses needed to be rescued, I was in [with] both feet,” said Jones.
Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue Society was started soon after and has now expanded to provide sanctuary for dozens of horses a year.
“We provide care for at-risk horses in B.C. and Alberta,” said Jones. “Maybe [the horse was] run through an auction and was heading to slaughter.”
The team at the rescue society will rehabilitate horses that come in, with the goal of having them adopted once they are healthy and well-trained.
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“Whether it’s just training, extra weight on the horse, getting foot care,” Jones said. “And then we’ll re-home it after that.”
The rescue adopts out about 70 horses a year.
“You see success stories of people that have adopted horses from us,” Jones said. “Little girls are riding them and loving them and they’re in family situations and getting love and food and everything that they need.
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“It is very rewarding, for sure.”
Freedom’s Gate partners with the Shuswap Association for Community Living to provide a place for those with intellectual disabilities to come and enjoy the horses.
“Horses are very therapeutic, so they can come out and decompress,” Jones said. “They get to do a little bit of work.
“It’s some work experience and then they get to learn about horses.”
Jannet Stoker, one of the volunteers from the Shuswap Association for Community Living, visits the farm every Wednesday.
“She was so friendly,” Stoker said, remembering an experience with one of the horses. “She likes to be petted a lot. She likes to be brushed all day. I love all the horses.”
Freedom’s Gate has about 18 horses right now looking for a forever home.
It’s important to keep in mind that the average lifespan of a horse is 25-30 years and it’s not a cheap endeavor.
“You really need to educate yourself on what it takes to own a horse,” Jones said. “Prepare for a minimum of a couple of hundred dollars a month.”
The animal lover says running a horse sanctuary is a bit of a rollercoaster, but the rewards are worth the struggles.
“When you end up having the ups, like a little baby, for instance, oh my goodness I’m in heaven,” Jones said. “I’m so happy I was able to help this little being still be here.”
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