Almost nine months after some horse owners said they could no longer afford to keep them, the province is stepping up with up to $3 million worth of help.
The Equine Hardship Program is designed for businesses to cover animal maintenance costs incurred from COVID-19 disruptions.
It’s geared to those who provide riding programs and camps. Their clients could no longer participate because of the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting off their revenues while they continued to face horse-maintenance costs.
The program opens Jan. 18 and will provide up to $2,500 per horse to a maximum of $20,000 per business to help cover direct costs for feed, water, veterinary care and farrier services.
Ontario Equestrian, which lobbied for the help, thanked Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman.
Horse experience businesses will be eligible for funding if they earned at least 50 per cent of their revenue in 2019 from horse experience activities, their 2020 revenue was less than
half of what was earned in 2019 due to the pandemic, and they attest they are facing hardship as a result of COVID-19 that will make it difficult to care for the horses.
The program covers those who are not eligible for the Risk Management Program and AgriStability.