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

Crews respond to house fire in Langford Monday night

Fire near Glen Lake Road and Haslam Avenue

Sooke school superintendent says student safety a paramount concern

“We always want to make sure our students and staff feel safe,”… Continue reading

Victoria to see extra ships after cruise company cancels Asia tour in wake of COVID-19

Coronovirus fears cause Celebrity Cruises to head west early

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read