Two of Montreal's caleche horses retire among some old friends
MONTREAL -- Two Montreal caleche horses are getting an early retirement, joining some old friends at an off-island refuge.
For Maximus and Freddy, the days of pulling around tourists are over. They're the two newest residents of A Horse Tale Rescue in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
"We're a non-profit charity. We're registered with the government, and we're here to give second chances to horses in need," said executive director Mike Grenier.
The city's ban on horse-drawn carriages went into effect on Jan. 1 and has forced caleche operators like Luc Desparois of Lucky Luc to give up some of the horses in his stable.
"It's very hard, just to say that you're not allowed to walk out of the barn with your horse. It's stupid," he said.
Even though Desparois is giving up some of his horses, he said he's going to continue fighting the bylaw. As difficult as it is to say goodbye after 15 years, he said he's happy knowing the horses will be well taken care of at A Horse Tale.
"I know how they are with the animals. They're all excited and a lot of people come over all during the week to take care of them, to brush them, to do all kinds of stuff, and they have the heart in the right place," he said.
Three years ago, horses Ulysses and Blanco retired from Lucky Luc's stable. They're both 22 years old now.
While some of the horses at A Horse Tale are up for adoption, the former caleche horses are not, said Grenier.
"They have worked, and what we are providing them is a retirement for the rest of their lives," he said.
The gates are open to the public on weekends, and during the week, special needs groups spend time with the animals.
"Just being in the presence of these – I mean they're huge majestic animals. So for us to be able to give back, I mean each volunteer that's here is benefiting from that, but there are so many groups that don't have that access. And we don't charge for the program. We give up our time."
Max and Freddy's new home at A Horse Tale is run entirely by volunteers and relies on sponsors and donations.