A place where horses and ponies find refuge from neglectful, abusive and harmful environments is in need of a little help of its own.
Outbackjacks Horse Rescue recently moved to the outskirts of Falkland, from its original home in Princeton.
The rescue centre, run by Gena Sandli and Dale Christie, is near max with 13 rescue horses, two of which are ponies, and two emergency stalls for the winter.
Sandli started the venture about 10 years ago, in Delta at the time.
“There was a need for it, that’s for sure,” said the former restaurant owner, who gave up everything to dedicate her time to the horses.
The cases she has seen vary greatly: from Mickey the Shetland pony who is grossly overweight, to Sparkles and Chase who were near death with their weight (or lack-of) and Rudy, an Arabian whose teeth are in such poor condition that he has to be fed mash daily.
Despite some costly medication for Chase, he and Sparkles are packing on the pounds now and doing great.
But not every rescue is so lucky.
With tear-stained cheeks, Sandli explains that Rudy likely won’t survive the winter, due to her teeth and a very serious heart condition, therefore he has to be put down.
“You love them whether they are here a day, 10 days or whatever.”
Another tough story, with a better outcome, is Peaches.
The former owner of the white mare was ordered to surrender her or put her down due to her condition. Her tail was literally rotting, full of gangrene with a giant tumour. Outbackjacks took Peaches in, and got her into the vet for surgery, where most of her tail was removed.
“She could live a long time,” said Sandli, adding that she still even wags her tail, “like a little pitbull, it’s the cutest thing.”
Peaches, who has been at Outbackjacks for about three months, has put on 200 lbs.
“She’s my pride and joy, she’s such a sweetheart.”
Sandli relates to Peaches as she too has had her own scare with cancer.
“I got really sick. I had a tumour in my breast,” said Sandli. “I had it removed but I had a good diagnosis.”
Then there’s her son, who the rescue effort is named after.
“When he was born he was really sick,” said Sandli of her now 12-year-old attending Falkland Elementary.
The name stems from the fact that whenever Jack was ill, his mom would take him outdoors, into the country air outback and he would do so much better.
Kamloops Large Animal Veterinary Clinic, and specifically Dr. Colin Mikkelsen, has been amazing. But there are still vet bills to pay. Plus there’s food, medication and building costs which are adding up.
“Sometimes it’s tough, and it’s tough right now,” admits Sandli of their current financial situation.
As a private non-profit, Sandli accepts donations of new and gently used items which she sells through her online thrift store: Outbackjacks Horse Rescue Thrift Store on facebook (she is hoping to find a storefront in Falkland soon).
Meanwhile her new hometown has stepped right up to help.
The Falkland Community Hall is hosting a coffeehouse fundraiser Saturday and have chosen Outbackjacks as the recipient. Tickets are $5 at the door for the open mic event or $10 for dinner, which starts at 6, and Sandli will be supplying.
Then on Nov. 1, the hall is hosting a dinner and dance benefit with a roast beef dinner, silent auction table and music by Aaron Halliday. The event starts at 5:30 and tickets are $30, which are available at Briteland or call KC at 250-379-2252.
“The benefit was a total surprise,” said Sandli. “It’s the first time in 10 years that someone has done a benefit on our behalf.”
OutbackJacks will also be at the Nov. 9 Christmas flea market in Falkland.
Those looking for a horse, are also urged to consider adoption.
There’s Jessie, a 14-year-old Egyptian Arab who needs some one-on-one, and Jellybean, a pony who was extremely abused and hates men but is coming around.
Outbackjacks also accepts monthly horse sponsorship, anywhere between $20 and $100, which Sandli returns with the same amount gift certificate to her store.
Anyone who would like to help with the rescue efforts can call 250-379-2400, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Outbackjacks Horse Rescue facebook page.
For photos of some of the rescued horses, and friends, visit The Morning Star’s Facebook page.