Pat Beauvais is the inspiring creator of Heart & Soul Equine Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides equine assisted therapy for individuals of all ages.
This unique therapy experience aids those suffering from various mental and physical ailments, ranging from depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to strokes and dementia.
By utilizing retired or rescued former racehorses, Heart & Soul Equine not only benefits the therapy participants but also provides the horses with a second purpose after retirement.
While successful thoroughbred horses may generate substantial earnings for their owners through breeding or competition, those who face average performance or end their racing career due to health issues or injuries often face a bleak fate. They are often destined for the slaughterhouse.
What Happens To Race Horses When They Retire?
The average thoroughbred horse has a racing career that typically spans 2-3 years, before retirement due to factors such as poor performance, illness, injury, or behavioral issues.
Despite their short time on the track, horses generally live for 25-30 years. But what happens to retired racehorses after they have been bred and exhausted by a multi-billion dollar industry?
Successful male horses with winning records become stud horses, breeding the next generation of derby hopefuls. For instance, 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh has sired several winners with strong mares from their racing years.
Horses that preserve their athleticism after consistent participation in high-stakes races, with purses that can exceed a million dollars, may transition into timed competitions such as show jumping, eventing, or barrel racing.
Others find new purpose as trail riding horses or spend their remaining working years guiding and controlling livestock on ranches. These are the fortunate ones. However, the rest of the retired racehorses face a sad fate – they are slaughtered for their meat, which is consumed worldwide.
How Many Race American Race Horses Are Slaughtered In A Year?
According to PETA, around 10,000 horses are sent for slaughter annually in the Thoroughbred-racing industry. This means that approximately half of the 20,000 foals born each year will be killed for their meat. In 2015, approximately 130,000 American equines were slaughtered in Mexico and Canada, then shipped to Europe and Asia to meet the demand for horse meat.
On June 10, 1978, Affirmed became the eleventh horse to win the Triple Crown. Twenty-two years later, one of Affirmed’s descendants, Fudge Ripple, was sent to an auction after contributing her genetic excellence to racing foals.
Luckily, she was saved from slaughter by the Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation. Another example is Pat Beauvais, who found herself in a similar situation with her horse named Remy. She rescued Remy from slaughter by paying $2,500.
According to Pat, there is a constant influx of retired racehorses that need to be rehomed. While there are organizations at each track that do a great job in finding them new homes, not everyone can afford the expenses involved.
The rising costs of grain and hay also make it increasingly difficult for people to feed these horses, resulting in a growing problem.
Is It Legal To Slaughter Horses In The United States?
Horses in the United States were subject to slaughter until 2007 when federal funding for inspecting horse slaughter plants was eliminated. Consequently, horse slaughter was effectively prohibited in the country. Since then, the ban has been renewed annually, leading to the closure of the last three horse slaughterhouses in 2007.
However, the risk to American horses remains as they are now transported to facilities in Mexico and Canada for slaughter. In 2020, approximately 36,885 U.S. horses were estimated to have been sent for slaughter, which is a significant decrease from the 130,000 horses in 2015.
While there are currently four active and licensed horse haulers in the United States, some of them have a non-profit “horse rescue” attached to their business. However, if the horses are not adopted, they end up being slaughtered. Remy was an example of this situation, as he was sold to a slaughter pen before he was rescued by the Heart & Soul Equine Foundation.
Remy’s purchase for $2,500 through a fundraiser resulted in a substantial profit for the hauler, who likely bought the horse for $600. When Remy arrived at the foundation, he was in a distressed state, distrustful of people and other horses due to having to fight for food while waiting to be slaughtered.
Horses sold to killer pens are placed together in small pens, where they compete for a handful of food thrown on the ground. As a result of this harsh environment, Remy was severely malnourished and underweight when he arrived at the Heart & Soul Equine Foundation. He had to be isolated from the herd initially because of his fear of other horses.
After two years of dedicated rehabilitation, Remy was successfully integrated with the other 41 horses at the foundation. He now enjoys spending time with his human handlers and happily frolics with the herd. Remy has even begun his therapy work, starting with a young girl whom he interacts with perfectly.
The Benefits Of Equine Therapy For Participants And The Horses
The Heart & Soul Equine foundation serves a dual purpose. They not only rescue horses from potentially dire situations but also provide them a new purpose in helping children and adults facing various conditions, including anxiety, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, Alzheimer’s, and those in hospice care.
Participants learn how to groom, interact, and form a bond with the horses. In certain cases, particularly with children, riding is also taught.
The Buddy Program, their most successful endeavor, pairs participants with a specific buddy horse for one-on-one experiences on each visit. This connection helps alleviate loneliness and depression.
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Equine therapy offers numerous benefits such as reducing anxiety and isolation, improving trust and impulse control, boosting self-esteem, and increasing overall happiness.
Deborah Glesler, the Executive Director of Synapse House, emphasizes the substantial advantages for their members recovering from traumatic brain injuries and strokes. Working with Pat’s horses helps them focus, follow directions, and improve communication skills. Individuals with physical deficits benefit from developing fine motor skills through activities like feeding treats to the horses.
Deborah finds equine therapy far more rewarding than traditional exercises done indoors. It allows the members to care for another living creature, granting them a sense of autonomy.
Pat Beauvais Is A Hero
The Heart & Soul Equine Foundation is the most challenging project ever taken on by Pat Beauvais, a determined individual with a track record of accomplishing goals.
Prior to her involvement with the foundation, Beauvais served as the First Ward Alderman in Des Plaines, Illinois for sixteen years. Additionally, she spent a decade as a Field Operations Advisor for Advocate Health Care.
Pat initially ran the foundation from a rental facility in Kentucky, but later purchased a farm in Harvard, Illinois to accommodate her 42 rescue horses.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck when Pat was still in the process of establishing the farm. The pandemic caused prices to skyrocket and led to a decline in volunteer and donor support.
Despite the increased costs of caring for her horses, Pat has kept the equine therapy services free for those in need. She firmly believes that the people who can truly benefit from the horses’ support often do not have the financial means to pay for it.
Pat emphasized that the purpose of her work is not driven by money, but rather by the desire to help both people and horses.
The Heart & Soul Equine Foundation relies solely on donations and Pat’s personal sacrifices for funding. In fact, she sold her long-held residence in Des Plaines and moved into an unfinished single-story structure on the farm to allocate the proceeds from the sale to supporting her horses.
Follow the links below learn more about the Heart & Soul Equine Foundation and donate to the care of the herd.
DONATE to Heart & Soul one time, sponsor one of the horses, or become a corporate sponsor.
Learn more about the foundation’s PROGRAMS.
SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT to visit the farm in Harvard, Illinois.
Check out their FACEBOOK page for horse videos, pics, and news.