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Kamloops woman looking for owners of rescue horses for new book

Have you rescued a horse?

Leanne Peniuk needs a little help from the local horse community.

The Knutsford resident is looking for owners of rescue horses who wouldn't mind being included in her latest passion project. Peniuk is putting together a coffee table-style book of stories and photos of horses who have overcome adversity and have been given a second chance by their owners.

"Anyone who got their horse from the SPCA or a certified SPCA rescue organization (is what I'm looking for)," Peniuk tells Castanet.

The book, titled "Rescue Me," will be the first of two. The second, to be released at a later date, will focus on individuals who have suffered mental or physical injuries and have benefited from having a horse in their life.

"I want to show both sides, how we save horses but they also save us."

Peniuk plans to donate at least 50 per cent of the proceeds to rescue organizations. 

Horses hold a special place in Peniuk's heart. She has raised them, bred them and competed.

"I lost my father in my 20s and I recently lost my mom last year, and I’m currently raising the last horse that we bought together. ... Horses have always been a part of my life, ever since I was a little girl. My parents fully supported that dream of mine," she says, noting she currently owns five but has had as many as 14.

The animals have always been "an outlet" for Peniuk.

"Whether you have stress or anxiety or just a really bad day, you can always go out to the barn… and there’s just someone there who is completely genuine, doesn’t want anything from you other than a hug and a pat and maybe a cookie or a carrot. There’s something about the soul of the horse that’s good for the soul of the human."

Unfortunately, a bad back has forced Peniuk to stop riding competitively. Four years ago, she picked up a camera and began experimenting with nature and landscape photography. Eventually, horses became her subject.

"I started taking pictures and I really loved doing it," she says. "It’s not something that I look at as a business. It’s not something I look at to make money. It’s something I look at because I’m passionate about it."

The idea for the books came after Peniuk attended an equine photography retreat in Florida earlier this year. 

"When I gave up riding a couple years ago, I struggled to find a way to keep a foothold in the horse world, and I’ve now discovered that I can do that and express creativity through photography," Peniuk says.

She adds she's focusing on the extreme rescue cases because more awareness is needed.

"I’ve heard of a horse that was basically put into a little stall and boarded up completely, and left.

"There are some really, really sick and sad things that I think are out there, and it’s very unfortunate, but through all of that, these horses have found a way to trust again. They’ve allowed us to help them and they’ve trusted that even though they’ve been burned so badly in the past, they still want to be loved. They still allow us to fight for them, and it’s those success stories that I want to focus on."

If you're interested in being featured in Peniuk's book, you can email her at [email protected] or find her on Facebook. Ideally, she'd like to collect 30 stories, to be written and told by the owners themselves. There's no cost to participate (she will travel to you). Peniuk says owners will receive a photo print of their horse and a copy of "Rescue Me."



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