Bill desBarres: A Lifetime in the Service of the Horse

Bill desBarres

Bill desBarres: Winner of the Horse Community Journals's 2012 Readers' Choice "A Lifetime in the Service of the Horse" Award

Since 1953, when he first volunteered as a board member for a local Nova Scotia exhibition association, Bill desBarres has devoted himself to promoting equine welfare in Canada. He has served on committees, chaired associations, and volunteered countless hours, all in service of the horse. When once asked why he worked so tirelessly as an equine advocate, Bill responded, “My horses raised good kids, and now it is time to give back.”

Bill came by his love of horses at an early age, while logging by means of draft horse power with his father on the family farm.

Photo: Mary R. Vogt

During the 1970’s, Bill was one of the key figures instrumental in the merger of the Canada Horse Council and the Canadian Horse Show Association to form the new Canadian Equestrian Federation (CEF). Some 20 years later, the CEF would develop into Equine Canada (EC), the current governing body for equestrianism in Canada. Bill served as the Chair of the EC Breeds and Industry Division for four years, helping Canadian breeders and breed associations develop marketing and development strategies and recommending standards for equine welfare.

With the CEF and EC at a national level, and with the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) at a provincial level, Bill has worked hard to represent the interests of grassroots members, and continues to do so while serving as the AEF Chair of Breeds and Industry.

His contributions as an equine representative at the Alberta Farm Animal Care and as a member of the Alberta Farm Animal Health and Welfare Strategic Planning Committee illustrate his passionate commitment to educating the Canadian horse community about horse welfare.

Perhaps his most significant contribution to the horse industry to date is his role in the 2008 establishment of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC), of which he is the current Chair. HWAC was created in response to concerns about the welfare of horses in Canada, and one of its primary missions is to educate the public about issues relating to the welfare of horses and the horse industry, and to promote humane treatment of horses throughout all stages of their lives.

Bill is active in equine welfare extension projects including the Recommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for Horses; Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses, Standards for the Care of Unfit Animals; Caregivers’ Guide to Rehabilitating Neglected Horses; and CFIA Equine Information Document Working Group. He is also involved in new technologies for voluntary Equine Identification and Premise Registration.

Bill is also past Chair President of the Appaloosa Horse Club of Canada, and worked extensively on the remodeling of the Appaloosa Museum in Claresholm, Alberta. He is a breeder of Appaloosa horses, and operates a mediation, facilitation, and financial services business in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Horse industry professionals consistently praise Bill’s quick wit, incredible kindness, and commitment to the horse.

“He’s incredibly dedicated,” one colleague says. “What he’s done for horse welfare in Canada is truly remarkable.”

2012 Readers' Chioce Awards Our sincere appreciation goes our generous Readers’ Choice Awards sponsor, Bucas, who graciously donated fabulous prizes to our winners. Thank you to everyone who nominated and helped make our Readers’ Choice Awards a success again this year.

Congratulations to our deserving winners:

  • Grated Coconut: Born to Buck
  • Duane Latimer: Canada's Reining Royalty
  • Pippa Hodge: A driving force behind therapeutic riding in Canada
  • Karen Brain: Anything is possible
  • Hickstead: “He was the best horse in the world”
  • Eve Mainwaring: "A tremendous horsewoman"
  • Dianne Tidball: Matriarch of Thunderbird Show Park
  • Somebeachsomewhere: Racehorse of the Decade
  • Orion: A Remarkable Therapist
  • Bill desBarres: "A lifetime in the service of the horse"


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