Peachland owner has tips on how to be a good neighbour after people feed horses toxic weeds | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Peachland owner has tips on how to be a good neighbour after people feed horses toxic weeds

Peachland resident and riding instructor, Robyn Skelly's horses.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Robyn Skelly
September 18, 2021 - 7:04 PM

A woman in Peachland is speaking out to the public about how to be safe and respectful when interacting with horses living in neighbourhoods.

Robyn Skelly owns four horses on a leased pasture in a residential area in town after moving from a rural location in Calgary two weeks ago.

Skelly said she is frustrated and concerned about the amount of unwanted attention the general public is giving to her horses over the fence, a problem she said is common among horse owners.

“My neighbour has horses and is having the same problems,” she said. “People are feeding our horses weeds that grow in the ditch that are toxic to horses, tampering with our fences and allowing their children to stick their hands through the fence. This is dangerous for both people and horses.”

Skelly said last week she saw a lady with kids trying to undo part of her fencing.

“I understand horses are a novelty,” she said. “They are also 1,200 pound animals that can spook or accidentally bite fingers. I think the lady wanted to let her kids pet the horse. The kids were waving and calling at the horses and putting their hands through the fence.”

Skelly uses her horses for riding and doing horseback archery competitions. She buys misused horses, trains them and sells them to good homes. She also is a horseback riding instructor. She said she encourages children to interact with horses in a safe and respectful manner.

“The same rules for dogs, or any other animal, should apply,” she said. “Children should be taught to simply ask permission first. They could be stepped on or injured. If someone gets hurt it could become the problem of the owners. These horses are my livelihood and parts of my family.”

Carolyn Farris, the regional director for Horse Council B.C. echoed Skelly's suggestions.

"The best advice is to not feed or approach as horses are prey animals and their flight reflex is highly developed which can lead to injury if you get too close," Farris said. "Feeding them can result in bites if not done properly and feeding them some things like small round apples can result in the death of the horse by choking. Never go into a fenced area with a horse without the owner's permission."

Skelly said she has ordered signs to put up around her property that tell the public not to touch or feed her horses, and is considering putting up an electric wire around the pen, something she never considered doing when living in rural Alberta.

“My neighbours have already put up signs after their horse got sick from eating the toxic weed,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen to mine. I encourage the public to give horses space and am open to people interacting with my horses but only if they ask first.”

READ MORE: Rescue horses moved to safety from Embleton Wildfire

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