It’s hard to imagine anyone would neglect, harm or even slaughter these wonderful and adorable animals. Fortunately, they have a haven and it is right here in East Ladner.
It was in the summer of 2012 when Tara Pay opened Tiny Tales Pony Rescue Society as a registered Canadian charity.
The lifelong Ladner resident and horse lover teamed up with her mom to operate the refuge for ponies. When a similar operation that accommodated mostly mini-horses shutdown in Yarrow, they took them on too.
Today, the facility is run by 20 dedicated volunteers and relies completely on donations, in money and services to keep the barn doors open. Its mandate is to rescue and assist sick, injured, abused and neglected ponies. Their latest additions arrived last week from Alberta, part of 37 that were seized from a hoarder and were running wild and under-nourished.
“It’s a dream that started nine years ago. I know people find (a need for this) surprising because they are so darn cute,” said Pay. “It’s just like how the (animal shelter) deals with what people are doing with dogs and cats, it’s the same with what people do with ponies and minis. A lot of them are bred in Alberta because they have space there and they can be picked up to become meat (if they were not rescued).
“Usually they come here wild, unhandled and their hoofs have never been trimmed. Ideally you do horses or minis every six to eight weeks so they have all been heavily neglected. There are all different ages too.”
From Alberta to Ladner
Tiny Tales has a partnership with Bear Valley Rescue. The Alberta operation will keep the rescued ponies and mini-horses long enough so a multiple number can be brought to Ladner at once. This significantly cuts down on transportation costs. Once they arrive, they are quarantined for two weeks in case of “shipping” fever or they are potentially bringing anything contagious to the stables.
The next step is being able to tame the animals enough to be properly examined, cared for and groomed.
“There were 37 that were rescued and I would have gladly taken all, but right now I’m the only person who does full-time training of them,” continued Pay. “That limits us. The longer it takes to get them trained with halters, the longer it takes to give them care. Each of them cost between $750-to-$800 and that’s just their basic needs on top of the (potential) unexpected. Funding, space and a little bit more hands on deck all have to be factored in.”
Pay also doesn’t say no if some unexpected guests show up. That’s what happened earlier in April when a middle-of-the-night arrival from Alberta was actually horses included one that was pregnant. The Society needed to create an additional run on the western end of the property to accommodate them. Volunteers happily did the work after a request on the Ladner’s Landing Facebook group.
Then there was mini-horse “Sparky” who had a significant injury that required eye surgery. The cost would have been at least $5,000 that would have led to no choice for the Society but have him put down. Instead only the cost of medicine and supplies were required after an equine veterinarian and his team provided their services for free.
Preparing for adoption
Once the ponies and mini-horses have been rehabilitated, they will go up for adoption.
The demand for them is high. Colts are also gelded as well at a cost of around $500, which ensures they can’t be used for backyard breeding purposes.
“We rehabilitate and re-home them. Lots of people want them to be safe for their children, but you need someone with a background and experience with them,” added Pay. “So that can be the tricky part is finding home that can take on that level of training.”
The Society is looking at other ways to fundraise. They are hoping businesses will sponsor a recently acquired trailer that will be utilized to take ponies to schools and day cares for educational purposes once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.
A gravel or trucking company could help upgrade a run area at the front of the property that is unusable in the wet fall and winter months, or there is also the opportunity to sponsor ponies for birthday party celebrations.
“We have a great group of volunteers that are feeding them and cleaning them,” added Pay. “Nobody is paid here, so all the money goes back into to all this.”