What began with three animals has now grown into a forever home for little equines in need of care at Happy Little Hooves Animal Sanctuary just outside of Estevan, Sask.
Laura Stock and her sister Rhonda opened the sanctuary in January and say they’re surprised at how quickly it’s grown.
“Every day we’re being tagged in posts on Facebook of people giving away mini horses,” Stock said. “Because they have a role as herd protectors, donkeys tend to be snatched up quicker. But because mini horses and ponies — they’re just pets —if people can’t handle their feet, health or behavioural issues anymore, they are free to a good home.”
The non-profit is meant to be a forever home and is the only sanctuary in Saskatchewan dedicated to donkeys, ponies and miniature horses who were either abused, neglected or couldn’t be cared for by their previous owners.
“It’s very rewarding when we can have their owners who have given them to us come back out and see them and see how they’re doing,” Rhonda said.
When Henrietta, a small grey donkey was brought into the sanctuary she could hardly walk, the result of a disease in one of her hooves. Although she’s still shy, Rhonda says she is coming around now gets to live out her life among friends.
“Getting to see them and their personalities explode once they’re feeling better…with little guys that are shy, just getting to the point where you can start petting them again, that’s the best part,” Stock said.
Stock adds the idea for the sanctuary grew from a love of donkeys and the pair now has 15 animals in their care. Now at capacity, they’ve started a GoFundMe, hoping to raise money in order to expand their pastures.
“We want to expand our pasture for the little guys, into the big pasture where we have the big horses,” Stock said.
“We don’t allow them to intermingle because the big horses aren’t used to mini’s and could hurt them. Of course funds are needed for a fence posts and we have to do the board fencing or else they’ll escape- ponies are known as escape artists.”
In the meantime, the pair works to promote education, teaching people how to properly care for the minis.
“We want to help owners to learn how to look after minis, ponies and donkeys because they are quite different,” Rhonda said. “A lot of people will get a mini and think it can go out in the pasture with the big horses and eat whatever it wants and they don’t realize there are a lot of special dietary needs, medical issues and hoof issues.
“If we can help people we can help more animals too, not just the ones that come into us.”
At the end of the day for this pair, it’s all about providing a safe haven — a refuge the little equines can call home for life.
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