Ontario backs ‘horse experience’ businesses for horse upkeep

Trail ride operations, riding schools, others eligible

Ontario horses whose jobs with riding schools, camps and trail rides were lost or cut back during the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for funding toward their upkeep.

The province on Thursday announced a $3 million equine hardship program would launch starting Monday (Jan. 18) help “horse experience” businesses cover animal maintenance costs.

The program is “specifically designed for horse experience businesses that are not eligible for other agriculture-related programs that help farmers manage risk” such as AgriStability or the Risk Management Program (RMP).

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Eligible individual businesses offering horse-related experiences can apply for up to $2,500 per horse, up to $20,000 maximum, to help cover “direct costs” — such as feed, water, veterinary care and farrier services — incurred between March 17, 2020 and Feb. 28. 2021.

At least 150 such operations exist in Ontario including riding schools, horse camp and trail ride operations, therapeutic riding centres and horse-drawn carriage and sleigh ride providers, the province said.

An eligible business must have earned at least 50 per cent of its 2019 revenue from horse experience activities, and must have pandemic-related revenue losses in 2020 worth at least 50 per cent of the 2019 earnings.

Such a business must attest it’s “facing hardship as a result of COVID-19 that will make it difficult to care for the horses.”

Enrolment and claim forms will be accepted until March 12 or the program budget is fully booked up, whichever comes first, the province said.

Not all horses used for horse-experience work may qualify for funding, the province noted. Horses that are kept also for competition (racing, show jumping), breeding, boarding income, or the business operators’ or family members’ own riding, are not covered. Retired or rescue horses are also not covered.

Costs not eligible under the program include labour; overhead; taxes (including HST); refundable or rebatable expenses; costs for businesses or horses located outside the province; prepayment for goods not fully received by Feb. 28; and veterinary costs for euthanizing an animal. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

About the author

Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor of Daily News for the Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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