WHEATON – After a unanimous decision by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board of Commissioners, horses at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton will move to an outside retraining program as soon as Friday.
The 6 to 0 vote approved a plan calling for the retraining of most of Danada’s 16 school horses.
Commissioner Marsha Murphy was absent.
In a presentation to the commissioners last month, Marie Hoffman, co-owner of On Eagle’s Wings Equine Center in Kirkland, said she observed the horses exhibit threatening behavior and saw evidence of inconsistent training and handling during a December assessment.
“They were not safe horses,” she said after the presentation. “They did not like their job and they need retraining.”
Hoffman believes eight of the horses could be trained in the next 30 to 90 days. Those would be the core of the center’s lesson programming when it begins again in May. Five others could be retrained later.
The final three have physical issues and unsafe behaviors requiring extensive training. Hoffman suggested those animals be sold or put up for adoption.
With the vote, Hoffman will oversee retraining of the preserve’s horses for $960 per month per horse, according to a report she compiled for the district. Danada volunteers and staff will also receive training, the cost of which will not exceed $6,000.
Forest preserve Director of Public Affairs Susan Olafson said the commissioners were all receptive of the plan.
“Everybody really believes this is something we need to move forward with,” she said. “We’re just looking to make sure things are consistent and handled consistently over at Danada.”
Deputy Director of Operations Mike Palazzetti said the district is in the process of hiring a new manager for the center to shape it into a successful organization.
“It’s really a re-tuning of the horses,” he said after Hoffman’s presentation in January. “We’re proud of the facility and want to move forward.”