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

Suspect in custody after early morning break and enter at downtown Victoria business

Woman located leaving Johnson Street with stolen merchandise, police say

Flying hot dog strikes Saanich pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Most Read