WELLINGTON COUNTY – Last year, Ontario Equestrian projected that 2,212 of the 6,328 equine businesses were in at high risk due to finances, lack of supplies, or inability to qualify for existing government relief programs.
This was estimated to have affected 11,060 employed horses. Ontario Equestrian moved forward with an industry fundraiser initiative (For the Herd) to raise funds to help struggling horse businesses.
So, it was welcome news when OMAFRA announced a $3-million dollar Equine Hardship Relief Funding program on Jan. 18.
Brandon Hall, director of marketing and communications for Ontario Equestrian encouraged horse owners to apply.
“The Ontario Equestrian community came together in support of the #ForTheHerd campaign and participated in national equine surveys, while industry partners such as Equestrian Canada (EC) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) joined forces with OE to advocate to keep businesses and horses alive,” said Hall.
“To receive $3 million in provincial funding to support horse experience businesses is a historic win. Our hope is that the industry responds by applying for funding and reaches out for support if they’re unsure of meeting the eligibility requirements.”
The OMAFRA funding is aimed at “horse experiences” including businesses such as riding lesson horses, summer camps, carriage rides, equine-based therapy and trail ride operations.
Specifically the funding is aimed at benefitting businesses that own horses, and who were not eligible for other funding support. The funding available is up to $2,500 per horse for a total of $20,000 to go toward essentials needed to maintain horses, such as veterinary care, farrier services and food.
Eligibility and complete details are available on the OMAFRA website (www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/equinehardship).
The application deadline is March 12 at 4pm.
Local horse experience operators expressed a range of reaction and opinions regarding the OMAFRA funding.
Depending on their business structure or if operators had completed their 2020 year-end, some are not able to take advantage of this new funding support.