The tack shop is open and it’s for a good cause. Need another reason to buy more horse stuff?
Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue in Hagersville, Ontario (about 30 minutes west of Hamilton) renovated a barn and stocked it floor-to-ceiling with ten years of donated Western and English second-hand horse tack. A wall of saddles, piles of saddle pads, racks of bridles, blankets, helmets, gloves, new and used winter and stable sheets, and boots.
You get the idea.
Even if you don’t own your own horse, you’ll find clothing, equipment, jewelry, and t-shirts for yourself and horse treats for everyone else’s horses, because what’s a ride without a bribe? (I mean reward).
Cram your credit card with a clear conscience because all the money raised here goes back into the horse rescue, a passion project of Brenda Thompson, a former animal control officer, who’s been running this shelter on her own 48-acre property for about 10 years.
Only in the last year has the non-profit secured charity status in the eyes of the law, so now they are equipped to provide tax receipts for cash donations, and even tack donations. It’s been an expensive labour of love and entirely dependent on the good will and volunteer hours of many, especially Thompson.
It takes $400 to care for one horse per month. Currently, 64 horses roam the acres of property and with stories ranging from unfortunate to tragic. “I only take crisis cases, not people’s pets,” Thompson tells me on April 30, 2016, the day of the tack shop open house. “There are so many horses who need homes or need to be rehomed, I only take cases of abuse, neglect or hoarding, or when the SPCA asks. We’re full up right now.”
It’s good and bad news. Good that these animals have somewhere to heal and be rehabilitated if possible, and then rehomed to appropriate places. Some are too old and retire here. Eight are permanent residents, along with two minis, a donkey, a llama and a pot-bellied pig.
It’s bad news because there are so many in need exceeding the help available.
The Whispering Hearts promotional material highlights success stories: Milagro a thoroughbred who came to the shelter in November 2012 not able to stand and eat on his own then by May 2013 was strong and grazing in the field. Others like Rosie and Tiffany, suffered neglect and starvation, but two years later were healthy and learning to trust again, which is a big issue in neglect cases.
Living on the property now is Titan who has mouth and jaw issues, Belinda with a brachial cyst on her neck and Jake the 46-year-old donkey rescued from Toronto Islands when some amusement park rides closed.
Today, though, is about celebrating the new tack shop – open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5pm to 8pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm. It’s neatly organized and equipment is in various conditions, but less expensive than new.
“I had so many people say to me, ‘I’d love to help but I don’t have anything to give you but some equipment I’m not using.’ I said, ‘I’ll take it. Whatever we can’t use goes into the store.’” Tompson says. In fact, there’s more in storage than can fit on the shelves so she suggests calling if you are looking for something.
Since opening in 2007, 260 horses have been rescued and 150 sent to new homes. All the money from the tack shop goes to this cause, and so do one-time donations or monthly sponsorships that come with private visiting and touring privileges.
And of course, they’ll always take extra stuff off your hands. Maybe it’s time to clean your tack box or room? Check out this post on SaddleSeeksHorse to inspire you.
Then visit or check out Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue, whenever you’re visiting the South Western Ontario region, or heading to the beach in Port Dover, Ontario.
Mark your calendar: The 9th Annual Whispering Hearts Summer Open House is 8- 5pm on July 16, 2016. Come out and meet the horses and more…
If you’re inspired by rescues, check out these books on Amazon: Thanks to Jon Stewart, Farm Sanctuary organization has gotten a lot of attention recently. Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Everyday is the latest by the founder.
Speaking of the former Daily Show host, his wife Tracey Stewart has penned Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live and How We Can Make Their Lives Better.
If you want to trail ride in the area, review the previous post about Fox Lair Stables in Canfield, Ontario.