Erin Parks gets in for a close up for her film Unreined, her submission in the musicbed.com Reopen Challenge. (Erin Parks photo)

Films raise awareness of Salmon Arm non-profit rescuing horses from slaughter

Public votes for video could benefit Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue

Being featured in two short documentaries has helped Carly Marchand-Jones raise awareness around her mission to rescue horses from being slaughtered for human consumption.

Marchand-Jones operates Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue in Salmon Arm. The non-profit society rescues horses that are abused and/or bound for slaughter, providing the care and rehabilitation the horses need along with training and handling before making them available for adoption.

In late May, Kootenay-based Hailey Mattson of Freeheard Visuals released on her YouTube channel, FreeherdTV, episode 3 of her For The Horse series. Called “We’re saving each other,” the five-minute film focuses entirely on the work Marchand-Jones does at Freedoms Gate and why she is passionate about horse rescue.

The episode’s title came from an anecdote Marchand-Jones shares about how, when she moved to Salmon Arm, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Since I’ve had the rescue, my symptoms have almost disappeared,” Marchand-Jones explains, championing the thereapeutic benefits that come with caring for horses.

Marchand-Jones said she gets goosebumps every time she watches the Freeheard Visuals episode.

“It’s a really well put together,” said Marchand-Jones. “The lady who did that, she adopted a horse from us five years ago and just has her heart in it and really wanted to do something in return.”

Marchand-Jones found herself in front of a camera lens once more for the short film Unreined, created by New Westminster-based TV editor and independent documentary filmmaker Erin Parks.

Parks learned about horse rescues from a friend who does equine therapy. With the onset of COVID-19, she wanted to see if and how the rescues were being impacted. She visited three of them, including Freedom’s Gate, to shoot some video. Impressed with the final product, and wanting to help bring attention to the horse rescues featured, Parks entered Unreined in the musicbed.com Reopen Challenge. Submissions are now closed and the public is asked to vote on their favourite films. There are three grand prizes to be won of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000, as well as 50 people’s choice prizes of $1,000. Parks said whatever she should win would be divided among the three horse rescues.

“I didn’t actually know she was going to be doing it like that so that was a nice surprise for us for sure,” said Marchand-Jones, who is equally grateful for the additional exposure the film has brought.

One unexpected finding for Parks, at least at Freedoms Gate, was that horse adoptions have actually gone up during the pandemic – something else Marchand-Jones is pleased with.

“When it (the pandemic) first started, I was like, ‘Oh no,’ we had about 25 horses in care and I thought…there’s going to be a lot of horses coming in with people losing their jobs and all this kind of stuff,” said Marchand-Jones. “Within a month, I guess people were starting to realize, ‘Hey, I’ve got all this time on my hands, we have time to train horses. So I started adopting horses out like crazy. We went from… 20 available for adoption down to one. It was amazing.”

That said, Marchand-Jones wants to be prepared in case people find the horses are too expensive to keep.

“I’m sort of expecting for horses to start needing homes again, but I’m really hoping that’s not going to happen,” said Marchand-Jones, who is always fundraising as she spends about $100,000 annually on caring for horses at Freedoms Gate.

Parks said she enjoyed filming the horse rescues and is considering returning to film a more in-depth documentary. If so, Marchand-Jones would use the opportunity to continue to raise awareness about how horses are slaughtered inhumanely for human consumption.

“There’s just so many different reasons why horse meat shouldn’t be consumed,” said Jones, who elaborates on this in the film, “We’re saving each other.”

To learn more about Freedom’s Gate, visit their Facebook page or website at freedomsgateequinerescue.com.

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Carly Marchand-Jones works with one of her horses at Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue in the film Unreined by Erin Parks. (Erin Parks image)

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