Owner of Empire Equestrian Kaitlyn Harbour feeds Thor a treat. (Contributed)

Neglected horse finds new home in Maple Ridge

Second homecoming for horse at Empire Equestrian

A Maple Ridge equestrian centre has adopted one of 27 horses seized from a Langley property.

Thor, a dark, Arab Morgan cross gelding, was rescued by the B.C. SPCA on Dec. 15. The animal rescue society claimed the horses were suffering from a lack of nutrition, lice infestation, overgrown hooves, rain scald from inadequate shelter and a lack of access to water.

The agency said the horses were living in unsanitary and muddy pastures and paddocks with hazardous objects strewn about.

“These horses have been through a lot,” said Const. Eileen Drever, with the B.C. SPCA .

“Some have emotional and physical scars that will take time to heal,” she said at the time of the seizure.

Kaitlyn Harbour, owner of Empire Equestrian, on 132nd Avenue, said she saw a Facebook post about the seizures and immediately recognized the names of some of the horses.

Their owner had boarded the horses at her stables for a couple of years around a decade ago.

Harbour says the owner had operated a trail riding business and would allow Harbour and her friend to take them out for rides. There were no issues with the horses at that time, she said.

Among those horses was Thor.

“He was the one I sort of always rode,” Harbour added.

“Thor was energetic, but always a safe guy to take out. We think he would have been somewhere between 12 to 15 years old at the time.”

Harbour said that although Thor’s history was somewhat unknown, she did know that he had suffered a neglectful home in his earlier years.

“He had scars on his face from having a halter left on when he was young that grew into his face as he got bigger and was basically left in a field without care,” she said.

“Despite this, he was such a kind, gentle soul.”

So when Harbour saw the Facebook post, she immediately looked for her favourite. She estimated his current age to be 27, old for a horse, and thought that he might have already passed on.

“I specifically opened up the article to look and he was the first guy on the page,” Harbour said.

So she did some digging and found out that he was being fostered at another stable in Langley called Hayburner Haven.

Harbour got in touch, adopted him and brought him back to Empire Equestrian on Jan. 31.

He is “fairly emaciated” from not eating properly.

“He’s pretty old, so his teeth don’t work as well as they could, so he’s going to have to be fed a mashed type of diet,” said Harbour.

“Maybe that was part of the problem that he wasn’t receiving that where he was.”

In the past few weeks, he’s had his immunizations, worming, dentistry and feet taken care of.

Thor has been adapting well to his new home.

Harbour held a formal welcome for Thor, with students giving his legs and tail a bath, and put braids in his tail.

“They got him shined up,” said Harbour.

“It’s so nice because sometimes when horses have been mistreated or neglected or just kind of left, and they are a little bit wild and not easy to handle. The nice thing about [Thor] is he’s just so sweet and he doesn’t seem to hold a grudge, and perfectly safe for all of my kids to handle.”

Harbour hopes to rehabilitate Thor and integrate him into their program at Empire.

“He may be sound enough for light riding or trail riding. And along the way, we are hoping to use him for our theory lessons and hope for him to be a companion to some of our other horses on the property,” she added.

“As a person that uses horses as a business, I feel like horses do so much for us and it was the least we could do to give back and give him a safe landing so that he has somewhere nice and comfortable to live out whatever time he has left.”

Thor was also a favourite of the SPCA staff caring for him.

“One of the oldest horses rescued, Thor, has been through so much and yet he is such a sweet, gentle boy,” said Drever, noting his recent adoption.

“It is so wonderful to see these beautiful animals overcoming their challenges and getting better each day.”

The cost of intake for the 27 horses along with their medical treatment and care is more than $30,000 so far.

“We know that some of these horses will be in our care for quite a while, and we want to make sure they have everything they need for a better life. They deserve to be safe and cared for,” said Drever.

The B.C. SPCA investigation into the case continues.

• To donate, call 604-574-1711 or go to spca.bc.ca.

Thor’s journey can be followed on Instagram at @the.story.of.thor.

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Owner of Empire Equestrian Kaitlyn Harbour with Thor. (Contributed)

From left, Empire Equestrian students Maggie Parr and Sadie Shipman, assistant coach and student Piper Richardson and owner Kaitlyn Harbour welcome Thor to his new home. (Contributed)

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