As Rocky View County (RVC) residents continue to feel the impacts of economic downturn, the owners of Dare to Dream Horse Rescue anticipate 2019 could be its busiest year to date.
“[People] can’t afford board on horses,” said Brenda Fehr who, along with her husband Henry, runs the operation. “They can’t afford to barely feed themselves, let alone their animals, and they want their animals safe.”
Fehr said the horse rescue – located north of Dalemead – has operated for 11 years and seen increased demand year over year. She estimated Dare to Dream rescued between 15 and 20 horses in 2018, which she called an average year. The number of horses accepted per year depends entirely on how much room the Fehrs’ have available.
“We are not a huge rescue by any means,” Fehr said. “Because I’m a big believer in teaching and training, we never bring in more than what we can physically work with and train.”
According to Fehr, Dare to Dream has capacity for 30 to 40 horses. In certain circumstances, they may accept more – one winter, they took in 60 horses, she said. Currently, however, the rescue is at capacity.
“Right now, I’m not taking in full grown horses, because I don’t have the pen space available,” Fehr said. “A horse under a year old, if we need to bring that in, I can slip that in with some other horses the same age right now.”
Most of the horses in their care are purchased from slaughterhouses, Fehr said. She is often contacted by a meat-buyer she knows, who will alert her when he gets a horse. Other horses are sometimes surrendered directly to Dare to Dream by the owner.
Horses typically spend a year in Fehr’s care, where they are halter-broken and acquainted with human care and grooming. Fehr and Henry try to find new homes for the horses within that timeframe, but some horses end up being permanent residents.
Currently, Fehr said there are no plans to expand the rescue, outside of possibly adding a handful of pens in the summer. She said they prefer to keep the operation small so they can focus on quality care. While the horse rescue has a strong volunteer base, Fehr said at the end of the day it falls to Henry and herself to care for the horses. They know their limits, and are wary of taking on more than they can handle.
“Ultimately, if it’s blizzarding and cold, it’s him and me out there checking animals and making sure they’re fed,” she said. “I have enough land, we could have a couple hundred horses here easy, but if we can’t properly look after them – keep their feet trimmed, keep them fed properly, train them – then, to me, there’s no point.”
Fehr added in cases where they don’t have room for a horse, they strive to find another solution by reaching out to other small horse rescues she’s connected with.
“We do the best we can,” she said. “When I have to say no to someone, to a horse coming here, I do the very best I can to help those people find that horse a good home.”
Learn more about Dare to Dream Horse Rescue at dare2dreamhorserescue.ca