Keeping them out of auction, one horse at a time

An Albertan auction of Appaloosas was what pushed Rowan Borneman to say “I’ve gotta do something.”

Rowan Borneman with April this past summer. (Photo by Erin Falconer Parks)

Rowan Borneman with April this past summer. (Photo by Erin Falconer Parks)

Rowan Borneman has always had a love for horses. One of the reasons the family moved to Clearwater from the coast a few years ago was to obtain a home that had a little more space, to house their two horses.

Now, the land is also being used as a horse rescue, called Appaloosa Allies Foundation, named after her favourite breed, to help rehabilitate and train horses and adopt them out to new homes.

The non-profit has been running for about a year, and was established as a way to help unwanted horses find new homes, instead of finding their way to an auction.

Borneman said it was in response to learning more about the plight of horses that are sent to auction. She came across a large auction in Alberta, where about 80 Appaloosa horses were being given up in what is called a “herd dispersal” — someone was giving up all of their horses.

“I wanted so desperately to help these horses because most of them were not really trained at all,” said Borneman. “That wasn’t their fault , but it was the very thing that made almost all of them go to slaughter.”

At auctions like this, she added, many horses will be purchased by a “kill buyer,” who will end up sending the horse for meat to make a couple extra dollars. There is no restriction on what type of breed, size or age of horses can be sent to slaughter.

Seeing this happen made her want to help horses in the area to de-stress, re-train and find a happy home. Borneman added she doesn’t necessarily have an issue with the fact a horse’s meat might be used for something, it’s making sure that the life they are living, and the way they are euthanized is with dignity and is done humanely.

“The way they do it, in my opinion, is not humane at all,” she said.

At any given time, the Foundation can have from five to seven horses. Over the winter, however, Borneman will try to adopt out a few horses or may not accept any new ones as it becomes expensive to feed them. While the nonprofit does receive donations, most of the funding from comes from her own pocket.

When the horses arrive, she wants them to have time to de-stress and adjust to a new path in life. Another problem with auctions is they are very stressful for the animals while also a breeding ground for many communicable diseases. Once checked out, Borneman said her ultimate goal is give them training so they leave the land knowing more than when they arrived.

“I just try to make them a more adoptable horse, one way or the other,” she said.

When they’re ready, Borneman will advertise and put pictures up of the horses to find them a new home. When they’re adopted out, she will perform an extensive background check on potential adopters as she feels the due diligence is needed after putting in so much work to care for and train the horses and make sure it’s a good place to go to.

She also has a non-negotiable obligation for the new owner.

“If they ever need to find a home again, I have to at least be contacted so that I can help find them the best possible home for them at that time,” she explained. “The goal just being that we’d like to keep them out of auction. We’d like to try our best to help the owner find them a good home and not be swindled by a kill buyer, or what have you.”

In addition to running the Appaloosa Allies Foundation, Borneman is a mother of two boys that are neurodivergent and runs a home business creating functional and decorative horse and dog accessories.

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