5 Weeks to Christmas: Great Gift Ideas


Giving always leaves a better vibe within me than receiving, thus the gist of this week\’s great gift ideas.

Soaring temperatures, widespread drought, wildfires and a general overpopulation of horses in the U.S. has seriously depleted the supply of hay, driving the cost of hay up to $25 a square bale in some regions. It\’s created a desperate need among equine caretakers. Thankfully, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is on board with the giving spirit this year, and recently announced the ASPCA Equine Fund, which pledges a total of $250,000 to 53 equine welfare organizations and animal control agencies across 19 states as part of its Equine ‘Hay Bale-Out’ grant program. A great form of relief for equine rescue owners impacted by the high cost and low supply of hay in these drought-stricken states.


Here in Canada, the giving spirit appears to be thriving as well. My 4-H friend, Megan Beierle, president of the Midnight Express 4-H Horse Club recently sent me a sweet piece about their club\’s effort to help this year. They teamed up with the boarders from the Lazy S arena just west of Airdrie, Alberta to gather and present a variety of much needed items to a local horse rescue.


This stash of warm winter blankets is just part of the supplies they donated as part of the club\’s fundraising and community service efforts this year. Together with a large cash donation largely funded by the Lazy S arena boarders, they made a significant contribution to the care of many equines.

Megan and her fellow club member, Victoria Moore, penned the following story and interview with Kathy Bartley, owner and operator of the rescue. It really gives a good sense of the amount of feed, goods and supplies that is needed to maintain an operation of this kind. And, of course the overall need. It inspired some charity gift giving of my own, and I\’m happy to share their story here.



Bear Valley Horse Rescue

~ by Victoria Moore (9) and Megan Beierle (18)

Every year, our club, the Midnight Express Horse 4-H Club, chooses an organization to commit community service to, and this year, we decided on Bear Valley, an organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes horses that have experienced trauma or distress. In order to help this organization, our club worked to donate around 15 used horse blankets, and hundreds of pounds of feed. Recently, we paid a visit to the horses and the people at Bear Valley Horse Rescue.


We had the opportunity to speak to Kathy Bartley, owner and operator of the rescue, and asked her a few questions about the organization.

How did you start Bear Valley? I already lived on the farm, from which we operate the rescue. I started going to horse auctions and bidding against “the meaters”. Many of the horses we have on the farm come from PMU barns.

Why do you do what you do here? I find that I am compelled to do this, because it just seems natural to me. I had just come into new money, and decided to pursue what I have always wanted to do. All of these young and old horses just pull at my heartstrings. I also believe that the feedlots are way too full of horses that could go to better use. Eventually, I just ended up adopting more and more, and it just snowballed.

When did you start? I started adopting the horses in the year 2000, but Bear Valley became a registered charity in the year 2003.

How many horses do you rescue each year? Lately, we have not been bringing home as many horses. Last year, we adopted 26. Some years, we just stay out of it, and do not adopt at all. It really depends on if we think we can rehabilitate and rehome the horses that are up for adoption.

Is there an age limit on the horses that you adopt? We bring home everything from weanlings to ancient horses. We do not like to see any horse go to waste, especially when we know that we can help out.

What are your restrictions? In terms of bringing home horses, we just need to be careful what we purchase. We do need a plan before we head to the auction, and we stick to that plan. Before adopting them out, we go through an interview process. For example, whoever buys a horse from us is not allowed to resell the horse, or bring it to an auction. We are very diligent about researching whom we sell to.

As members, some of the things that caught our attention were the amount of horses Kathy and Mike have worked so hard to rehabilitate. Being passionate about horses, it was wonderful to see the commitment present in these people. The foals were so cute, and it was nice to see that they had formed a type of family among themselves. This is definitely a good place to go if you would like to see true passion for the animal in action.


Owners of Bear Valley Horse Rescue, Mike and Kathy Bartley, encourage everybody to make a trip to their home and rescue farm. It is recommended that you call (403-637-2708) to make an appointment to take a tour around the property.


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