While equestrian centres are cautiously opening up and lessons are resuming on a limited basis, Ontario’s lesson barns and school horses are still in desperate need of funds and supplies after being forced to sit idle for months.

In response to financial hardships caused by the ongoing pandemic, Ontario Equestrian launched the For The Herd emergency fundraising initiative to support lesson horses and riding school facilities in the province. As of June 19th, $164,454 has been raised, about 33% the initiative’s $500,000 goal.

Brandon Hall, Director of Marketing & Communications for OE, says, “We are running out of funds and will be unable to provide funding in the coming weeks if the donations continue to stop coming in.”

He explains how the money received so far has been distributed. “The committee reviews all applicants weekly – the applications arrive to the committee anonymously and OE staff redact all personal information so the committee doesn’t know who they’re reviewing. When the application is first received, it is scored according to an objective set of criteria, prioritizing imminent welfare issues such as lack of hay on the property and imminent herd dispersal.

“Funds are then allocated as they are available, in combination with the ongoing assessment of those in greatest need.”

  • As of June 3rd, there were 95 unique applicants to the funding program
  • As of June 5th, FTH has funded 77 applicants for a total amount distributed of $132,600
  • $110,000 of that money was disbursed in May alone

Hall notes that the total value of hay, feed, and bedding requests for the 95 applicants is $235,855 per month. This does not include vet or farrier costs. This would mean that the average amount to support a barn’s schoolies per month is roughly $2,500. According to an internal update requested from the applicants, only 30% of applicants will be able to generate 50% or more of their regular revenue in June.

“As is clear from the numbers above, the amount raised to date does not even cover the basic expenses of the school horses in need of assistance,” says Hall. “And with the expected curtailing of summer camp activities, occurring at the same time as the need to buy hay, the committee is very concerned about the ability to assist.”

Please donate generously to For The Herd today; the GoFundMe fundraising page can be accessed here.