Metchosin ‘horse hero’ vying for Horse Canada prize

Paula Leweke rescues 10 horses a year from slaughter

A Metchosin horse rescuer is vying to win the role of Canada’s ‘Hero of the Horse.’

After being nominated, Paula Leweke is one of eight finalists in the Horse Canada competition, which doles out $2,000 and 12 horse blankets to the finalist who receives the most online votes. The retired nursing instructor quietly rescues about 10 horses a year from slaughter, purchasing most at auction in Alberta and transferring them to her four-acre Metchosin farm to be rehabilitated and trained.

In Canada, dozens of live horses are sold for meat or are shipped out of the country each year to be slaughtered and eaten in other countries. Many of them, often in terrible health, are available for sale at auction beforehand. That’s when Leweke steps in.

READ ALSO: B.C. Horse Angels battle ‘kill-buyers’ to stop horse slaughter

Leweke doesn’t see the mangy fur or hollow ribs on the “throwaway horses” that come to her hobby farm. She invests thousands of dollars in their health and training, slowly revealing the shining coats, powerful muscles and gentle natures of horses once destined for slaughter.

“Just because they’ve been thrown away does not mean they aren’t athletic and beautiful horses,” she said. “They’re skinny and beat up, so I rehab them and get them what they need. Every horse has an individual plan.”

With no official rescue name, Leweke refers simply to her animals as “Paula’s horses.” She sells them to good homes – some going on to become show jumpers, others to quiet hobby farms like her own – and aims only to break even so she can keep rescuing more. She relies primarily on her pension, but notes the high cost of operating – it can cost up to $1,000 per horse to have them shipped onto the Island, and some rack up tens of thousands in vet or training bills. Receiving $2,000 would go straight to the hay fund, Leweke said. And 12 new blankets is as good as another $2,000.

READ ALSO: Duncan horse rescue centre needs help to keep doors open

Despite the cost and stress, Leweke said one thing keeps her going: “My love of horses, and the fact that so many don’t make it.”

Votes for Leweke in the Heroes of the Horse competition can be cast at horse-canada.com. Voting is open until Sept. 15.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
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

Greater Victoria thrift shop quietly closes two locations indefinitely

Society of St. Vincent de Paul shut down Sooke and Central Saanich storefronts

New report finds ‘chronic’ shortage of daycare spaces across Greater Victoria

Sidney meets 52 per cent of demand, the best figure for six surveyed communities

Four-storey Oak Bay Avenue development to have rooftop garden

Redfern 35-unit development sent to public hearing

Sooke councillor pitches another way to improve transit

Coun. Jeff Bateman wants free passes for youth on local routes

Heavy rains cause wastewater overflow off Oak Bay, Saanich beaches

Affected beaches will be posted with public health advisory signs

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

Most Read