By Melissa Kosowan, Communications, Ontario SPCA
Spirit is a barn favourite among the horses at Hillsview Stables in Lively, ON, but his life hasn’t always been as comfortable as it is now. As he gets brushed and braided for the final horse show of the season on September 25, 2016, it’s difficult to imagine that just under three years ago he was thin, with skin and hoof conditions, and was surrendered by his owners to the Ontario SPCA.
Today, he’s the picture of health and has a new job teaching children and adults how to ride after being rehabilitated by the Ontario SPCA. Diane Bélanger-Gardner originally met the gelding when one of her students was interested in adopting him from the Ontario SPCA. Although Spirit and the student weren’t the right match, there was something about Spirit that captivated Bélanger-Gardner and she decided to give him a forever home in her own barn.
“He has the most soulful eyes,” says Bélanger-Gardner, a certified riding instructor who has adopted five horses from the Ontario SPCA over the years. “He has this grateful, soulful expression that’s difficult to explain. It’s as though he’s looking into your soul.”
Above: Spirit when he came into the care of the Ontario SPCA.
Below: Today Spirit is healthy and robust. Photos: Ontario SPCA
That was two years ago and Bélanger-Gardner has transformed Spirit into a reliable mount that is eager to learn new things and always tries to please his rider. “Good food, patient training and some TLC brought him to where he is today,” says Bélanger-Gardner. “His performance is steadily improving and he is going beautifully.”
One young rider liked him so much that she decided to lease him from Bélanger-Gardner. The pair compete on the Northern Equestrian Circuit and are regularly in the ribbons. On September 25, 2016, they will be vying for top spot in the Hunter division, where Spirit will navigate a 2’6” jumping course.
“Spirit is one of many horses that have come into the care of the Ontario SPCA who have gone on to find loving forever homes,” says Tracy Lapping, the inspector who introduced Bélanger-Gardner to Spirit. “Many, like Spirit, have not only found a loving new family, but have also found new careers that they enjoy doing. We wish Spirit all the best as he inspires the next generation of horse lovers.”
Ontario SPCA and Humane Society
Protecting animals since 1873, Ontario SPCA is Ontario’s Animal Welfare organization. A registered charity comprised of over 50 communities.
Since 1919, when Ontario’s first Animal Welfare legislation was proclaimed, the Ontario SPCA, with the help of its Communities, has been entrusted to maintain and enforce Animal Welfare legislation. The Act provides Ontario SPCA Agents and Inspectors with police powers to do so.
Ontario SPCA provides leadership in animal welfare innovations including introducing high-volume spay/neuter services to Ontario and opening the Provincial Education and Animal Centre.
For more information, visit the Ontario SPCA website.
Main Photo: Spirit is now being shown by a young rider who loves him. Credit: Ontario SPCA