MONTREAL—Two retired horse breeders are struggling to protect the horses they love. Daniel Joubert and his wife Sylvia Lepage live near Rigaud, they say it costs too much to take care of the horses, but they desperately want to keep them from slaughter.

In a picturesque corner of Tres-Saint-Redempteur, more than a dozen horses munch on a bale of hay.

While the horses look good at first glance, beautiful and energetic, the couple can't give them the attention they need, nor more importantly, can they afford to feed them. They are desperate for a solution.

“These are real American Appaloosas,” said a proud Joubert, pointing at one horse. “That's the real Indian pony.”

Their horses are good for trail riding, dressage and beautiful with their distinctive coloured, marbled coats. Breeding the horses has been a way of life for decades.

“We started off in 1970, we got married and we decided to go live in the country,” said Joubert.

“Most of them they were born here and I'm the first one who brings them outside,” added Lepage.

For years their horses were in high demand.

“We were running a farm of between 40 and 50 Appaloosas. We were selling them all over the world, Europe and the United States,” said Joubert.

But the market has dried up and prices have gone up. A bale of hay costs $40 and lasts only two days.

Now retired, they've done everything they can to sustain the horses and save them from slaughter.

“I'll be damned if they're going to go and die on me because of hunger. I'll take money off my cheque to feed them,” said Joubert.

Going blind from diabetes and suffering from cancer, Lepage isn’t kidding. “We feed them on credit now. We use a part of our old age pension.”

But they can't do it anymore. Enter Kerri Fenoff, a friend, nursing student and horse lover.

“They've interacted in a part of my growth and learning about myself—and that's why these horses really need to find a home, they helped me as well,” said Fenoff.

The family friend came up with the idea of holding an open 'barn' fundraiser on Saturday at the farm between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to encourage people to adopt a horse. Hay donations would also be welcomed.

“When you got them for 35 years raising these little things, how can you just let them go—it’s hard,” said Joubert. Their 15 horses require lots of hay and care, now they are counting on the kindness of strangers.

The Adopt-a-horse event will be Dec. 15 at 834 rue Principale, Tres-Saint-Redempteur.

A Facebook event has also been created.