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Equine Canada’s horse welfare award recipients named

Brenda Thompson of  Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue is presented with the Equine Canada Horse Health and Welfare Award by Jan Stephens, past member of the Equine Canada Board, and past chair of the Stewards Committee.

Brenda Thompson of Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue is presented with the Equine Canada Horse Health and Welfare Award by Jan Stephens, past member of the Equine Canada Board, and past chair of the Stewards Committee. © Shereen Jerrett

The owner of a horse rescue operation in Ontario has received Equine Canada’s Horse Health and Welfare Award, which recognises an extended history of dedication to the improvement of horse health and welfare.

The award was presented to Brenda Thompson, the force behind Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue in Hagersville, which she started along with her husband, Dave Thompson, in 2007.

Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim , the award was presented to Thompson by Jan Stephens, past member of the Equine Canada Board and past chair of the Stewards Committee,  at Equine Canada’s Awards Gala during the organisation’s national convention earlier this month.

While holding down full-time jobs, the Thompsons have rescued more than 150 horses, are currently caring for 67 horses, and manage 30 volunteers who are integral to the day-to-day operation of the rescue.

When it comes to rescuing and rehabilitating horses, Thompson is a force to be reckoned with and has set a high standard for horse rescues in this country. She has delivered presentations at a neighbouring county council, at the provincial level and to other organizations and groups about the need for improved animal welfare and care guidelines and education.

Thompson has earned the respect and support of Equine Guelph, equine veterinarians, equine professionals, animal welfare agencies, horse lovers and people outside the horse industry because of her dedication, professionalism and never-ending enthusiasm despite the difficult and heart breaking situations she sees on a regular basis.

Thompson has set the standard for what a horse rescue should be. Her mission is to educate people and facilitate changes so that there will be no need for horse rescues in the future.

Jan Stephens also presented the Equine Canada Horse Stewardship Award to equine therapy advocate Lynda Tennessen. The award recognises an individual who has on a single occasion or multiple occasions demonstrated exceptional compassion for a horse or for horses at a grassroots level.

Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association manager Lynda Tennessen with Equine Canada's Horse Horse Stewardship Award, presented by Jan Stephens.

Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association manager Lynda Tennessen with Equine Canada’s Horse Horse Stewardship Award, presented by Jan Stephens. © Shereen Jerrett

Tennessen is the herd and lessons manager for the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association in Alberta. She is also a certified riding instructor, CANTRA (Therapeutic), and Equine Canada Instructor.

Results speak for themselves in Tennessen’s ability to extend the useful working life of horses well into their thirties. She has taken on horses with emotional or physical issues, nursed them back into useful lives and maintained them in a healthy retirement – in a leased park in the Capital city of Edmonton.

Tennessen’s horses are specially trained for the wheelchair lifts and quiet work necessary for the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association. She is very conscious of the number of hours a horse works during the week and she ensures they receive at least one day off each week and a minimum of three weeks off during the year. This attributes to their mental health as well as their physical well-being.

Tennessen sets an example for about 350 students the school accommodates each year in education on the care and quality of life that the horses can achieve while in work and in very old age.

She has also implemented the Equine Canada Rider Level Program and has adopted the Equine Canada Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines into lesson programming.

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