A pair of horses near Kamloops is proving the power of friendship can gallop across time and distance and leave flames flickering in the past.
Tony the horse — the evacuated equine KTW reported on in 2017 — was living out his days at the Epona Rise Retreat Centre in Heffley Creek when his herd mate and best friend Poppy showed up to join him on April 26.
The large white horse noticed the familiar brown and white pattern of Poppy right away and galloped over to greet her.
“He recognized her and then became very protective of her coming into the herd and they were inseparable,” Epona Centre owner Hillary Schneider said.
In July 2017, Tony and Poppy were rescued together by the BC SPCA, which said at the time 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 alone, bone health deteriorates, impacting the horse’s ability to walk. The worst cases can be fatal.
“They were in a state of neglect when they got seized, so they probably wouldn’t have been able to get away from the fire if the SPCA hadn’t have gotten them,” Schneider said.
The two were separated during the adoption process.
Poppy was adopted quickly by a woman residing in the Lower Mainland, but her owner didn’t have the space conducive to the horse’s long-term health, Schneider said.
Having heard that Schneider had taken in Tony — who now goes by the name Malachi — the woman reached out to Schneider and asked if she would reunite the pair by taking in Poppy.
“I of course said yes,” Schneider told KTW.
She had adopted Tony after the BC SPCA posted about him online.
“Having an opportunity to reunite two bonded horses was something I wanted to do,” Schneider said, noting she has seen other horses at Epona develop connections similar to those formed by humans.
Though he didn’t appear depressed without his best friend, Tony did seem guarded and reluctant to bond with the rest of the herd when he arrived at Epona Centre.
“You could tell he was a little bit on the outskirts,” Schneider said, noting the horse is now healthy.
CARE TO HELP?
Click here to view Poppy's GoFundMe page
Poppy, however is not at 100 per cent as she has arthritis and still requires more rehabilitation work to her feet, Schneider said.
She has started a GoFundMe page for anyone wishing to donate to Poppy’s first year of care at the centre.
Funds raised will cover expenses such as Poppy’s vet bills and food. Schneider also started a GoFundMe for Tony (Malachi) during his first year at the centre.
Schneider said she runs the pages as a platform for people who have inquired about supporting the rescued horses.
One month into her arrival, Poppy has taken on an alpha mare role.
“The integration went very smoothly,” Schneider said. “You still see them together, but she’s risen to the top of the leadership in the herd.”
The 80-acre Epona Centre just north of Kamloops is home to two herds of 27 horses.
Schneider has previously adopted from the SPCA and has also saved horses bound for the slaughterhouse.
Her centre uses the animals for therapy, not riding, with the injured and elderly horses free to roam in a herd on her property. Schneider also hosts retreats and sessions for private and corporate clients, noting horses offer valuable lessons in leadership.