Dear Canadian Horse Defence Coalition,

I am extremely honoured, humbled and grateful for my micro sanctuary, The Little Red Barn, to be included in the amazing company of other horse rescues across Canada who have received this incredibly generous gift from your esteemed organization and the Jann Arden HorseShit Campaign.  This donation will go a long way in continuing to provide exemplary care to our horse residents and future horse rescues. 

What began as a science fair project in Grade 8, to determine whether children could be taught empathy and compassion towards animals, led to the realization that city populations are so far removed from farm animals, including horses, they do not see them as sentient beings, nor do they acknowledge animal welfare issues.  As a result, The Little Red Barn Micro Sanctuary was created one year later; founded on the beliefs and values that farm animals are someone not something. My mission was to save animals destined for slaughter who could be ambassadors of their kind, connecting with visiting children and families on a personal level, while enjoying an enriched and happy home to live out their days. I felt that by teaching empathy and compassion through knowledge and personal interaction, we could promote a generation of children who would make the connection that farm animals are sentient beings, capable of love, friendship, intelligence and joy.  Each one of our horse residents has a unique story which made them part of the LRB family.

Scotty, a 25-year-old elderly Belgian draft, like so many unwanted horses at the end of their lives, was hauled to auction with an almost certain fate.  There were many draft horses that evening, and not many private homes in attendance.  The hardest part is knowing it would take a miracle to save them all. Scotty’s eyes were sunken and depressed, they lacked any spark, a sign he had given up hope. Somehow, horses just know. What Scotty didn’t understand was that his fate was not preordained, and he was safe at last.  With the joy of saving a horse, also comes the sadness of knowing who will not be journeying home. At the end of the auctions, we take a moment to give one last kind word, share a tear, pat and honour those horses we couldn’t save. It is extremely difficult, but important these souls be remembered.

Fortunately, for Scotty, he arrived safely later that night at the LRB, with two older, obviously hard working Standardbred mares, a Belgian cross gelding, and a beautiful but terrified, grey Percheron broodmare through our partnership with the Manitoba Horse Alliance. 

We wanted to give Scotty the life he deserved since it was obvious, he had worked hard his whole life for people, based on his facial and leg scarring. Upon arriving at the Little Red Barn, Scotty was extremely stoic and head shy. He preferred to stand alone under our old pine tree.  The pine tree was where our own beloved horse, Sailor, had passed away at the age of 28 only a few short years ago, and his ashes are spread around this tree, he too used to enjoy.  We always felt Sailor’s spirit was still with us, and we couldn’t help but feel that Sailor was with Scotty now, standing side by side with him, telling him it was going to be alright. He was home now.  At that time, we also had six untamed ponies, a yearling donkey, and a 30-year-old quarter horse mare from three other auctions.  One by one, each of Scotty’s companions found new, loving homes where they could be treasured as all horses deserve.

Then one day, we noticed the tiniest weanling pony, Scout, was standing with Scotty under the pine tree.  Tiny Scout did not leave Scotty’s side. I felt this was their home, and they needed to live at the LRB as permanent residents. Today, Scotty is learning to enjoy human companionship, being spoiled and fussed over with brushing and hugs, regular hoof trims, exceptional veterinary and nutritional care.  Tiny Scout is always by his side, along with Daisy and Serenity the cows, Missy and Dolly the sheep and all the tiny goat friends.  Scotty has even learned to become friends with George the pig, frequently having in depth conversations about the latest hay they are sharing and the weather I’m sure.  And somewhere among them, I believe Sailor is watching over everyone at the Little Red Barn.

While attending one of last year’s auctions, I bid to save several horses including Scout, a tiny, terrified weanling without his mother.  Either completely unhandled, abused, or both, he stood wide-eyed and afraid with an older stud pony he had been brought in with.  The small group, along with an elderly mare, arrived at the Little Red Barn later that day.  Shortly after, it was wonderful to see Scout bond with Scotty, the large Belgium, feeling safe, secure and protected.

He has slowly learned to trust people. We also introduced Scout to Sonny, another mini weanling and they have become fast best friends, with his natural curiosity and playful joyfulness coming out.  Visitors love to watch Scout and Sonny racing around under the watchful, wise eyes of gentle, old Scotty. 

At the same auction as Scout, we met a 30-year-old beautiful Quarter Horse mare who had obviously been well cared for during her lifetime. We happened to meet the owner and were able to inquire about her story.  The owner had owned Libby for 18 years but her boarding stable was closing and decided her only option was to take her to auction. There appears to be a consistent disconnect between horse owners who bring their companion horses to auction and the reality of what their fate may ultimately be.  Fortunately for Libby, she arrived at the LRB later that day, along with a foundered pony, and two unhandled ponies. Libby has since found a new loving home where she will live out her days, surrounded by children, and compassion.

As a micro sanctuary with limited space, we find other ways to help horses as well, by assisting with transportation and fostering of horses in desperate need following auctions with Manitoba Horse Alliance, until loving adoptive homes can be found.   

At The Little Red Barn, we provide resident focused care to all our animals. Each of our residents is treated as an individual with personalized care plans to meet each of their unique needs, including nutrition, veterinary care, gentle handling techniques, enriched relationships, and environment.  Our goal is to provide as rich a life as possible in a loving, safe home.  We give each one of these special individuals all the love and care they so deserve.  When the time comes, they will be given a dignified, humane passing over the Rainbow Bridge surrounded by a   family that loves them. 

We also enjoy hearing from families we have worked with in the past. Twinkle is one such story.

“Working with the Little Red Barn Sanctuary has been one of pure pleasure.  I was searching for a pony for my granddaughter and desperately wanted to save/adopt. I reached out to the LRB and gave permission to save a life through proxy bid.  I was delighted to hear 3 ponies had been saved and one was mine! A matted, scared, slim, feral 39” pony who had been exposed to a stallion and abandoned at auction pregnant!  We named her Twinkle after the first pony we ever had from the U.K., who lived to be 36. We have all the time in the world to earn her trust again and let her find peace in safety and care. The farrier came the next day to make her more comfortable and the journey is one of amazement from September to today. We can halter, groom her and she even comes for walks with us. I’ve boosted her health under the guidance of my vet to help her nurture a healthy foal without compromising herself. She is besotted with Isla, my granddaughter, who she sees weekends and knickers at her and approaches the gate- melts my heart. I’ve developed a friendship with the LRB and hope others with consider helping this heartwarming barn in the fantastic work she does to help abandoned, abused and neglected and suffering equines.” Sara R.

Our education programs include Personalized Compassionate Tours for children and their families, and Virtual Farm Animal Kindness and Compassion Education with schools, promoting the message to children that animals are someone, not something. In the past year alone, we have connected farm animals with over 1500 families personally, as well as thousands of individuals through social media with visitors always having a strong connection to the horses in our care.

Thank you again for your incredibly generous donation to continue the work we do and support the horses in our care. 

Saving one horse won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one horse.


Jessica Walker


The Little Red Barn Micro Sanctuary