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

Roots & Blues announces ticket giveaway ahead of online festival

The festival is streaming free online this year, but those who pre-register can win passes for 2021.

Ryga Arts Festival to include live events

Arts festival in Summerland will feature live and online performances

Highway 3 open after five hour closure west of Princeton

Vehicle incident 39 kilometres west of Princeton had highway closed most of Thursday

South Okanagan sees increase in real estate activity

More single family homes sold at higher prices when compared with a year ago

Penticton Peach Fest headliners moved to 2021

Artists include Glass Tiger, Simply Queen, Jess Moskaluke and Honeymoon Suite

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Anti-gang cops probe Kelowna’s street-level drug trade over B.C. Day long weekend

CFSEU’s Gang Enforcement Team was deployed to Kelowna last weekend

Man allegedly wielding knife at Kelowna Superstore arrested

The 29-year-old Kelowna man has been released on strict conditions for a future court date

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read