New lease on life following Williams Lake fire

A horse named Tony was rescued from behind the wildfire line this past summer and now lives in Kamloops

  • Nov. 28, 2017 12:28 p.m.

—- Kamloops this Week

Tony the horse has a new home and a new herd after he was rescued from behind the wildfire line this past summer in Williams Lake.

“He’s already made some friends and I think he’s quite happy here,” said Hillary Schneider, owner of Epona Rise Retreat Centre in Heffley Creek.

The large white equine arrived at the 80-acre property just north of Kamloops two weeks ago.

In July, the BC SPCA rescued Tony and another draft horse, who were in danger due to wildfires raging throughout the Interior. The organization said the horses could barely walk when they were discovered, due to the poor condition of their hooves. Horse hooves require regular maintenance, usually needing to be clipped every six weeks or so.

Left uncared for, bone health deteriorates, impacting the horse’s ability to walk. The worst cases can be fatal.

“It’s very imperative,” said BC SPCA senior manager of cruelty investigations Shawn Uccles.

RELATED: BC SPCA Williams Lake works to reunite lost animals with evacuees

Asked whether Tony’s neglected hooves could be due to his owner or owners being evacuated, Uccles said residents had only been evacuated for one week when the animals were found. It would have taken more time for the horses’ hooves to grow that long, he said.

“Way beyond that,” he said. “Way, way beyond that.”

Many animals were left behind during wildfire evacuations, which displaced thousands of people over the summer months. During that time, the provincial animal welfare organization visited communities and fed the animals. The strategy differed from the one implemented during the 2003 fires, when the organization took over the KXA in Kamloops to shelter animals.

RELATED: Animals rescued from fire line

Uccles said most animals were not in danger, so they didn’t need to be moved, but at least four horses were rescued, including the pair of draft horses.

“They were in so much pain they would have had difficulty trying to flee from the fires,” said BC SPCA senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever in a press release at the time.

“I hate to think about what would’ve happened if we hadn’t found them.”

Once their hooves were cared for, Tony’s other half, Poppy, was adopted quickly — but Tony still needed a home. In late October, the BCSPCA went online to share his story, which went viral, shared hundreds of times on social media.

Schneider was tagged nearly a dozen times by people who knew she had a home for Tony.

The Epona Centre is home to almost 20 horses living out their days as a herd on the acreage.

“His story kind of pulled at me,” Schneider said.

Schneider has adopted from the SPCA before and also saved horses bound for the slaughter house.

Her centre uses the animals for therapy, not riding.

She adopts inured and elderly horses, that roam in a herd on her property. Schneider hosts retreats and sessions for private and corporate clients, noting horses offer valuable lessons in leadership.

“They’re [horses] partners and teachers,” she said.

While she’s still getting to know Tony, she said he has much to offer in the way of learning. He is still getting over anxiety issues around people, she said, but he sensitive and has already bonded with another horse in his new herd. His feet are healing but still look rough, she said.

She has started a GoFundMe campaign, with the goal of raising $6,500 for Tony’s first year of care at Epona. The page can be found online.

“He’s a horse that touched a lot of people,” she said.

The BCSCPA is wrapping up its investigation and will likely be recommending animal cruelty charges.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cadet biathlete races to silver medal at provincial competition

On the weekend of Feb. 15-16, she made the journey from Williams Lake to Vernon

Generations unite against bullying

In Williams Lake today it wasn’t just students and teachers who took a stand against bullying

Off-duty Burnaby officer helps apprehend Cache Creek car thief fleeing towards Clinton

‘This is just one example of how we are always ready to respond to emergencies’

SD27 students celebrate Pink Shirt Day across the Cariboo

Pink shirts were worn by teachers and students in multiple different schools

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Explicit Greta sticker linked to Alberta company draws outrage

The sticker includes the logo of Red Deer-based X-Site Energy Services

Most Read