WEST KELOWNA - Silverado Socrates is hoping for a miracle.
Socrates, the owner of Mandy and Me Trailriding, a West Kelowna farm and horseback riding attraction, is in foreclosure and tomorrow, Nov. 4, a Supreme Court Justice will sell the farm where she's lived more than three decades to the highest bidder.
“I’m just sad,” she says. “I’m trying to focus on what I need to do today. I’m picking up some medicine for one of my horses and I’m hopefully getting hay later on today. Life goes on.”
Socrates has been living on the five-acre farm off Petterson Road for 34 years. In that time she has started a trail riding business and opened her doors to children and adults with various disabilities. She believes animals are a valuable source of therapy and healing and has rented rooms to people struggling to get back on their feet.
“I’ve kept people for a day, a week, a month when they had no place to go,” she says. “Sometimes I got paid, sometimes I didn’t. I always like to help people when I can.”
According to court documents, Socrates defaulted on her mortgage with the Bank of Montreal in June 2014 and the property was listed for sale Nov. 13, 2014 for $455,400.
Due to inactivity however, the price was reduced nine times to $374,900. In September 2015 the property was appraised for $365,000.
Socrates, now $500,000 in debt, says her financial troubles started a few years ago when her farm was already paid off. A bank offered her a line of credit of over $600,000 – money she initially wanted to use to take Mandy and Me to the next level.
“I wanted to put in an arena and maybe buy a few more acres of land,” she says. “But I bought into three houses and that’s where I got into trouble. I paid off the amount owing to the bank and bought out the other partners but nobody would pay me. It has nothing to do with my business, but I let my business go down while I tried to figure that out.”
She says she was duped by a dishonest investor who convinced her to buy into the three houses.
“The person is the opposite of me,” she says. “He ended up with two of the properties and it’s been a real wake up call for how some people make a living. One (of the houses) he just snuck out from under me, I still don’t know how that happened, but I ended up going to the judge and got it overturned somewhat and he had to come back with another offer. I ended up with $40,000 of the $500,000 that I lost. I maxed out credit cards trying to get things going so I used that to pay off most of the bills. That’s when the horses got stolen.”
In 2012, a group of people Socrates says once lived on her property removed four of her horses. They were eventually found in Ellison and returned but at that time allegations of animal neglect were made against her. She was cleared by a B.C. SPCA investigation.
“It’s just stupid things again and again,” she says.
The property is to be handed over to whoever the new owners are on Dec. 5, 2015. Socrates says she doesn’t know what she will do. She has 15 horses to look after, not to mention 34 years of memories.
“I’m hoping the people that buy it are open to me staying here and buying it back eventually,” she says. “If miracles happen I’ll raise the money myself but I don’t know. Whatever happens I’m moving forward. You can’t just lay down and die you’ve got to keep working.”
Socrates can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.