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Tetra’s Queen, a three-year-old filly available for adoption through the Maritime Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association snuggled up to Jackie Moore, a volunteer with the organization. This filly would love to get a home where she can be turned out to run and play in the snow.
The past year has been the most challenging yet for a Nova Scotia-based organization that works to rehome former race horses.
The Maritime Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association (MSPHA) has been helping place off-the-track standardbreds in new homes for about six years. Many of them have gone on to become barrel racers, jumpers, dressage horses, trail horses and family pets but there are others still waiting for homes.
“Racing season has completed and with that there are always horses who need homes,” said MSPHA president Jackie Moore. “We get a lot of interest in adoption in the spring but this is actually a good time to adopt because there are several horses available and you can spend the winter bonding with your horse.”
There are currently eight horses waiting to be adopted. They range in age from three to 16 and there are both mares and geldings. Some horses have suffered injuries which make them unsuitable for the stress of competitive activities (such as barrel racing and jumping) in the future but others are completely sound and could be trained for any discipline.
“Standardbreds are great horses and shouldn’t be overlooked,” said Moore. “I was skeptical about them until I got one nine years ago. Rico is 14 now and I love him. With the right training they can do all kinds of things. They’re very versatile and people who get them are pleased with their personalities. Once they have one many people want another. Another advantage of adopting a standardbred is that you get to know you’re helping, because the horses who cannot race need homes.”
She said some cases are more urgent than others. While some of the adoptable horses are living on property with turnout where they can exercise and socialize, there are others who are not stabled in places where this is possible.
"(An) advantage of adopting a standardbred is that you get to know you’re helping, because the horses who cannot race need homes.” Jackie Moore
Over the years many standardbreds, as well as other breeds, have ended up being sold for slaughter at livestock auctions. Moore and the other MSPHA volunteers would like to see more people recognize the value of these horses to prevent this from happening.
The MSPHA is comprised of a very small group of volunteers who fit in their rehoming work with full time jobs. Moore is a feed sales rep with Co-op. Although they are busy they are careful to try and choose the best home for any horse. Adopters complete an application, which must include the name of a veterinarian who can be contacted for a reference. For various reasons some adopted horses must later be rehomed and the MSPHA will step in to help once again.
“We appreciate owners who are willing to continue caring for a horse until it is rehomed,” added Moore. “We also appreciate the support provided by the recent management of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition. We don’t have the facilities to take horses in so any help is wonderful. We would love to have a foster home or two who could help in urgent cases.
“If anyone is interested in getting a horse I would urge them not to overlook standardbreds. If they come and meet them they might be pleasantly surprised.”
More information, including horses currently available, can be found on the association’s website at www.mspha.ca .