Neglected and abandoned horses taxing Okanagan resources

An injured and abandoned wild foal was rescued by O.A.T.S., a local non-profit, recently near the Summerland Research Station. - Photo courtesy of O.A.T.S.
An injured and abandoned wild foal was rescued by O.A.T.S., a local non-profit, recently near the Summerland Research Station.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of O.A.T.S.

For the third time this month, Theresa Nolet has found herself coming to the rescue of a foal.

“It is very alarming to me to see so many foals being abandoned. It is really not natural herd behaviour,” said Nolet.

Nolet, of One At A Time Success horse rescue, helped recover one foal at the beginning of the month, another was pulled to safety from the swollen river in Trout Creek. The latest foal was found injured and abandoned behind the Summerland Research Station.

“A woman came across the foal all alone and it appeared to be injured in an attack. The foal has puncture wounds on his neck, marks on his rear hip and its belly was swollen. The vet thinks it was stepped on, possibly by its mom,” said Nolet, who believes the foal was born the day it was found.

Earlier this month, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen heard nearly 600 wild horses were counted on the Penticton Indian Band lands in March during an aerial survey.

The two governments are working to find a cost-effective solution to the issue of wild horses. Nolet feels something needs to be done quick.

“I think more pressure needs to be applied to this situation. Some of these horses roaming around, especially on the West Bench, are branded,” she said.

“They (owners) should be caring for them, not letting them roam wild to fall in rivers, left hurt and abandoned and to cross highways. That is not appropriate in my mind.”

The latest foal was taken to a vet in Kelowna, the cost was partially taken care for by Critteraid and O.A.T.S.

“The foal is staying with me for right now. I’m sleeping on a cot in a makeshift shelter used for storing hay that has been basically turned in to his nursery,” said Nolet.

“If another foal was found today I would have to turn it away because it is of huge time and effort to take care of them. We already have volunteers doing day and night shifts looking after the ones we have. These are horses people have just stumbled across, who knows how many more are out there.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer or donate to OATS for food and vet care can contact Nolet via email at

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