Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue operator Shawnee Venables works with Titan and Atlas, two horses that were abandoned after being abused. Meet these boys and other horses at an open house from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 15 at 4730 44th Ave. NW in Gleneden. -Image credit: Photo contributed

Centre provides sanctuary for horses

Freedom’s Gate Equine Centre hosts open house Saturday

The gates will be open at Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue this Saturday.

Located at 4730 44th Ave. NW in Gleneden, Freedom’s Gate will hold an open house and garage sale.

The organization became a registered not-for profit society in January of this year and has a total of 50 horses in its care, of which 37 are rescues.

Carly Marchand Jones and Shawnee Venables are hoping to spark community interest in their centre and help raise funds to care for current and future rescue horses in their care.

The women take horses in for many reasons; those surrendered by people who are unable to care for them, such as three recently acquired when the owner needed palliative care.

Freedom’s Gate rescues horses throughout B.C. and Alberta that are destined for meat markets, travelling as far as Red Deer, Alta. to collect eight horses on the road to the slaughterhouse.

Marchand Jones and teenaged volunteer Courtlan Ponty spent an exhausting day hiking around grasslands near Merritt to provide wild horses with hay and remove ticks from their bodies.

More recently, Marchand Jones and Venables, who is a member of CDART (Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team), have been busy helping with animals rescued from wildfires by finding temporary shelter with people who are willing to take them in.

“We have been in Kamloops setting up an intake centre for cats, dogs and other critters and have donated hay for horses at the KXA, the old exhibition ground,” she says.

Some of the horses taken in at Freedom’s Gate are wild or feral, and volunteers spend “an abundance of time” calming them down and halter training them so they can be adopted out, says Marchand Jones, pointing out Venables’ daughter Darian has a great way with horses and does a lot of the training,

The adoption process is the same as the SPCA’s in that would-be owners must fill out an application and be approved.

“We do it because there’s a need; we absolutely love working with the horses,” Marchand Jones says. “Working with unhandled horses is one of the greatest things that you could get to experience. Being the first to touch an animal is pretty cool.”

Love and the organization’s funds do not pay all the bills.

Freedom’s Gate has already paid about $12,000 for hay for the winter ahead but would be more comfortable with another $8,000 worth, at least.

And there’s much more than feeding, grooming and training.

A horse suspected of being impregnated at auction suffered a miscarriage on July 10. A vet was called and spent several hours with the mare, something that will cost Freedom’s Gate in the neighbourhood of $600.

Donations for feed, medical supplies, vet care, lead ropes, blankets and brushes are also needed.

As well, there is a need for volunteers and they don’t all need to be “horsey” to help. There are stalls to be mucked out, fences to be mended and cleaning, along with horses that need to be walked and groomed.

With help from neighbours Sharon Thurston and Lynn Halliwell, Freedom’sGate has access to about 40 acres for the horses to roam in during the summer and barns for the winter.

“One old guy we have, Rolex, is 32 years old and he’s quite happy to have a barn in the winter,” laughs Marchand Jones. “He’s been sponsored to stay with us until he heads out.”

An open house, garage sale and barbecue takes place at Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. Meet the horses, enjoy lunch and feel free to donate for the horses’ care.