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Horse rescue near London, Ont., facing pandemic-related funding crunch

Behind the Bit in Mossley, Ont. Behind the Bit Equestrian Center/Facebook

A horse sanctuary and rehabilitation centre in Mossley, Ont., just outside of London is appealing to the public’s generosity after cancelling lessons and programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Behind the Bit Equestrian Center currently has 14 horses, many of which it says experienced poor living conditions, medical neglect or even abuse before coming into its care.

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“We can spend anywhere upwards of $3,500 a month just on the basics. That’s hay, farriers to come trim hooves, any kind of vet, medications,” manager Nicole Dodge told Global News.

“We have a lot of senior horses that require ongoing medical care, and that just all adds up.”

After being closed for most of the past year, the rescue said in March that it was excited to reopen to the public in April, but the province announced a new stay-at-home order, which came into effect Thursday.

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Read more: Canadian horse owners could be forced to sell for slaughter as finances battered by COVID-19 (May 2020)

The Ontario Equestrian Association says under the current order, lessons are not permitted, while outdoor riding appears to be permitted “for limited purposes.”

Dodge says the rescue, which has 22 volunteers, gets most of its funding from programs and lessons it offers.

“We do get some donations but it’s not quite enough. We’re finding it hard to meet ends, there’s just not enough funding out there from the government and we just need some extra help, really,” Dodge says.

A GoFundMe launched in February was nearly halfway to its $5,000 goal as of Friday, April 9.

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Dodge says they also accept donations of items and points people to the rescue’s Facebook page.

“You can also get in touch with the owner Lauralynn Gibbons and she can kind of point you in the direction of what we need,” Dodge says.

“Lots of people can donate supplies and stuff for us to rebuild fences or things, just little things that need to get fixed every month.”

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