Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

PRE-RACE CHECK – Volunteer vet Paulina Gonzalez, right, checks Anam Cara while Lynn Cheverie holds her friend.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HOMECOMING – Madeline Jones on Moonshine, left, and Heidi Miller on Bailey, start the Major’s Promise endurance race.

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Photo by Aimee O'Connor

HEARTFELT – The inaugural Major’s Promise endurance race was held Saturday with five riders taking part. Above: Volunteer vet Paulina Gonzalez, right checks out Yoda while BJ Steringa holds on to her friend.

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Photo by Aimee O'Connor

LARGE ANIMAL LOVE – Dawin Keplinger has some fun with the therapy animals, two miniature horses and two donkeys, at the Major’s Promise Endurance Race fundraiser held Saturday. ‘I love animals,’ she commented.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HEADING OUT – Scott Mueller and Buck start the ride.

Major’s Promise Large Animal Rescue holds endurance race

Major’s Promise Large Animal Rescue held its inaugural endurance race this past Saturday.

By Morris Prokop on September 7, 2021

Major’s Promise Large Animal Rescue held its inaugural endurance race this past Saturday. It was held off of Cadet Road, where two 10-kilometre courses were set up.

Major’s Promise was established in 2017, and has helped 70 horses since then.

According to director Paula Dupuis, the name is based on a horse they once cared for.

“At the time I had a yearling that was super-sick, and we weren’t sure it was cancer or anything, and I just decided that Major would be the namesake, in case anything happened to him. He is now in Alaska, doing liberty, trick riding and everything else and is healthy as an ox.”

(A liberty horse is a horse that performs tricks in a group without a rider.)

Dupuis explains how the organization came about.

“I wasn’t doing anything with my health degrees in Animal Sciences, and I’ve always been big on horses, and we just decided to start helping them when we can.

“Here and there, I’d hear about horses that need help, so then I’d go out and see what I could do for them. Or re-home them. Or if they’re needing care, I’d take them in. The horses just kind of showed up on my husband really. He wasn’t impressed! … Now he tolerates it very well. He’s learned a lot.”

Dupuis has an extensive background and an impressive resume in animal care, including, of course, horses.

“I started riding when I was nine, and then I worked at a breeding farm for standardbred race horses from the time I was 14 until the time I was about 23. I was in college at the same time for vet tech – vet assistant, grooming. I have my vet tech, my grooming, my vet assistant, my wildlife rehabilitation, and my RVS, which is Rabies Vector Species. I went for quite a bit of the education.”

The organization does other fundraisers besides the endurance race.

“We always do a Mother’s Day bake sale; we always do a Valentine’s Day bake sale,” says Dupius. “I tried to do a calendar last year, but it was just a little too late in release, so we’re gonna try to do, not next year, but the year after, so that we have enough time for all the pictures, and editing, and getting it in early. So we’re just – usually just work extra and kind of make it work. And now I’m getting to the point where we’re getting a little too big to just do it on our own.”

The large animal rescue has one horse that illustrates the need for fundraising.

“We had Missy come in at 400 pounds last year. She had quite the feed bill and quite the vet bills by the time we brought her back up to weight. She is now over 1000 pounds. She’s quite the little story. We named her Sweetie when she first got off the trailer, because we needed something for the vet, and then we changed it to Missy, because she was always in trouble, ‘cause she got sassy after she got food. She’s still sweet. She’s got a little fire in her now.” relates Dupuis.

As for the endurance race itself, Dupuis explains the purpose of it.

“It’s something that we can bring to the horse community, as well as raise a little funds for the project at the same time. There hasn’t been an endurance race up here, but they’re big everywhere else. So it’s kind of our first one, and we’ve got more interest in next year’s already, so hopefully it’ll become bigger and bigger, and we get some support from all the horse people of the community. “

They had a small number of riders this year, but the future of the race looks promising.

“We ended up only having five this year, but they all had an extreme amount of fun, and they did really well, and they pretty much went out and started advertising for next year’s, saying everyone else has to come into it.

“There was an option of either having a 10 km run, or a 20 km run. All the ones that showed up did 10 km. It was different terrain, and … there was hills, and there was water aspects, and it just kind of threw a little bit of everything in there, on the trail.”

The horses are well taken care of for an event like this.

“An endurance race is a speed race, but also maintaining the fact that your horsemanship is up to par, meaning that when the vet checks your horse, it’s not going to cause issues or illness. So we maintain a vet check before and after to maintain the horse’s health as well,” explains Dupuis.

It was a timed race, with the fastest horse and rider galloping in at one hour, 15 minutes. Classes of riders were based on weights.

“We did weight classes so it was fairly proportioned between all of the people,” says Dupuis. “Because if you have someone that weighs only 110 pounds, and you’re racing someone that might be 210, that’s a lot of extra work for the horse to do.

“So we had five different weight classes, one just being junior, and the rest were just by how much you and your horse’s tack weighed. We had an entry in every class, so everyone won first place. So they were extremely happy.”

Dupuis’s husband’s race, however, didn’t quite go as planned.

“My husband went in it as well, and he ended up ‘skunking out’. I’m not sure what it’s called … it’s pretty much last place, but I had to go pick up his tack off his horse, and everything. His horse just wasn’t in the mood that day, so … he walked him instead. He got off and went for a walk instead.”

When asked if they had any financial goals for the race, Dupuis replied, “not overly. I was just hoping for any little bit of help. We did get enough to get the next hay shipment, which is just for a couple of weeks. I mean that’s still a big help for us.”

They are taking care of two horses for the actual rescue right now, but according to Dupuis, she’s “got way more horses myself than I should. But it takes care of those two horses’ hay for the next two weeks.”

The entry fees were $45 for juniors and $75 for adults.

“We had to pay a little bit for what we needed for the race, but the majority of it helped us out.”

As for future plans for the organization, “I have a few visits for the nursing homes, and I have a healing camp visit, so we just donate our time for that, because we feel like a little bit of help healing with the horses, as well as them healing, kind of helps each other. But I don’t have any fundraiser events planned quite yet.”

Comments (2)

Up 3 Down 0

Llama on Sep 10, 2021 at 6:40 pm

What kind of organization is this actually? Looking in their Facebook they say it's a "nonprofit" but they have absolutely no records at Societies. And the Whitehorse Star made no mention of nonprofit yet they do "fundraisers". Where are the checks and balances if they are a true nonprofit? What do they actually do with the funds?

Up 7 Down 0

Lynn Cheverie on Sep 7, 2021 at 4:21 pm

The horse in the picture is Anam Cara and I am holding him. We did the race.

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