Woman starts petition to bring more attention to rescue horses at Midwest Horse Fair

Petition asks for policy change
Woman starts petition to bring more attention to rescue horses at Midwest Horse Fair

Inside a covered red barn, 11-year-old Coal’s hooves pounded the ground as his mane streamed behind him Wednesday morning.

“He is Icelandic,” DeeDee Golberg said as she stroked the horse’s dark brown fur. “These are horses that were bred in Iceland.”

Golberg said she took Coal in to her rescue group, Spirit Horse Equine Rescue & Education Center, about a month ago after his owner could no longer afford his veterinary bills.

“She could have sold him, but she wanted to be sure he ended up somewhere safe,” Golberg said.

Goldberg founded Spirit Horse 10 years ago and has taken in dozens of horses over the years, including wild mustangs from South Dakota.

“I think people have the mistaken impression that any horse that ends up in a rescue is junk. We’ve had people say that,” Golberg said.

She wants to help people change their perceptions and is hoping to do so on a large stage at the Midwest Horse Fair, which is held in Madison each year. Golberg said she approached the fair early this year about presenting at its event April 20-22 but was denied because the current policy does not allow adoption-based groups to participate in the Breed & Discipline Demonstrations.

DeeDee Golberg, founder & president of Spirit Horse Rescue in #Janesville, started a petition to get the Midwest Horse Fair to allow rescue horses to participate as “rescues” instead of in their breed category #news3 pic.twitter.com/4I4Z9c7Y2X

— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) April 18, 2018

“As individuals, adopted or rescue horses are welcome to get involved in the Breed & Discipline Demonstrations as well,” Midwest Horse Fair said in an online statement. “Like all other participants, adopted or rescue horse owners would need to determine which breed group their horse qualifies under or choose which discipline group their horse is a fit to represent.”

Golberg said she wants to see a specialized category for rescue horses, so people can see what they have to offer, instead of only participating with the other horses in its breed.

“We want to be able to say, ‘Look at the talent. Look at the ability here’ from a horse that, at one time, somebody said, ‘We don’t want this horse anymore,'” Golberg said. “We want to have a chance to show in what we do with natural horsemanship and how these horses can be really great horses and an opportunity for people to adopt as opposed to buy.”

Golberg started a petition that had more than 800 signatures Wednesday. She said many other horse fairs around the country offer a designated category for rescue horses.

“It’s more the norm that they do,” Golberg said. “That’s why this is kind of upsetting.”

The Midwest Horse Fair is April 20-22 in Madison. A spokesperson said the board will review DeeDee’s request at its meeting this summer #news3

— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) April 18, 2018

Paul Nemec, Midwest Horse Fair spokesperson, said the event’s applications had closed and the schedule was set when Golberg asked about expanding the format of the Breed & Disciplines Demonstrations to include rescue groups. Nemec said the board plans to review her request this summer.

“It is simply not feasible for us to review changes at this time of year when plans have already been finalized,” Nemec wrote in an email. “However we are happy to review this summer and it is on our agenda.”

Golberg said she hopes to speak with the board after the upcoming horse fair.