Sunday-Rose has settled in beautifully and is eating well.
She now has a bright future ahead thanks to all of your support.
Sunday-Rose has settled in beautifully and is eating well.
Sunday-Rose has settled in beautifully and is eating well.
She now has a bright future ahead thanks to all of your support.
In the past the property, Alumor, has been used as a thoroughbred spelling property, and although there’s a lot of work to be done, the bones are there, with the property divided into paddocks, each with its own water.
This past weekend we’ve had our massive working bee – and wow, what a difference a few days can make. We’ve cleared paddocks, repaired fencing, painted the house and mowed – and did I mention mowed???
Things will work a bit differently at this sanctuary – instead of having a resident caretaker, the house will be a Save a Horse Australia house for staff, interns and volunteers.
With its facilities of several round-yards, an open barn with a small arena area, a large flat paddock perfect for working horses, and access to the National Trail at our back door we are very excited to move forward into a system where we can rescue, rehabilitate and re-home easily from one spot.
Withcott has some perfect areas for our equine therapeutic programs, including a lovely old open dairy bales. The horses that will be used for the programs – including our Equine Facilitated Learning, Mates 4 Mates, and other programs in the pipleline – will be those that for one reason or another can’t be re-homed due to age or medical needs, and that are suitable for interaction with children and adults. It will give SAHA’s permanent residents a wonderful chance to engage more with people – humans and horses healing together is a wonderful thing, as any horse people know.
Once we’ve moved – and it’s a pretty massive move to get our 40 Tarampa residents up here and settled – then we will open our doors to new rescues, but just while we regroup we will be sticking with our current 104 horses!
On that note – our move is EXPENSIVE!! At the moment we have double rent (triple if your count Buccan); all the costs of setting up the property and the house, and the move to come. We are still $4,300 short of the $13,000 we had budgeted for the move and to be honest we are a bit desperate – if there is any way any of you could contribute to our moving fundraiser we will be forever grateful. To donate, click here.
In other news, because of all the heavy rain, which was eerily reminiscent of the floods last year but thank goodness in the end not as bad, we’ve been taking some horses off Buccan. Three of the lucky ducks that have gone to a 15-acre paddock full of grass at a Somerset property are Surprise, Sunny and Dallas, with Chico and Zorro to follow on Tuesday. Little Milo and Charming are off to Michelle’s for a few weeks until Withcott has safe paddocks where they can pick but not over-eat; Nelly has gone to a wonderful foster home and we are so thrilled for him; Zeus has been adopted to Anne-Marie, to be a companion horse, to her mare Lilly who needed a friend. It’s a beautiful property and a lovely home for our dear boy.
Matisse, our lovely four-rising-five-year-old Percheron-cross, who has recently come back into care, is coming down to me at Mullumbimby to join the little herd of Tyra, Chantilly and Roulette and start her journey towards being a ridden horse.
Which brings me to the horses and their training.
This is such an essential part of rehabilitation – it can’t be over-stated how important it is that when we adopt a horse, even if it’s a companion horse, that it is safe in all aspects – including tying up happily, standing for the farrier and floating well, and all of this, when you are dealing with young horses or horses who have had abuse, takes time.
Down at Mullum the fantastic news is that our lovely trainer, Callum Snell (The Barefoot Brother) has fallen in love with dear Dawson, and now that Dawson has learned some manners, he is at Cal’s in a great new home where he will have loads of stimulation.
Chantilly and Roulette are coming along in leaps and bounds – Chantilly has gone from quite strong resistance to any form of training, to putting up a metaphoric hand, and shouting out, choose me, choose me – what are we going to do today???? It’s so lovely to see. She’s now being ridden, and as long as everything goes well, I believe she’ll be ready for adoption in a few months.
Even though training in this way takes longer, because Cal is doing it at the property where the horses are living it is a wonderful way to build a long-term foundation that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives! Each horse in full-time training costs $100 per week, and will be in training for a minimum of six weeks, depending on their age, stage and personality.
For those of you who will see the benefit of this slow and steady method and might consider it worthwhile to donate for our ongoing training costs, you can Donate Here.
And the moving link again is: : https://saveahorse.giveeasy.org/campaigns/were-on-the-move-can-you-help-us-raise-13000/
Thank you to all our wonderful supporters out there, we appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts, and so do the horses! We can’t do all this without you, and as we move towards our new incarnation at Withcott we are very excited to be on the journey with you.
And last, but by no means least – don’t forget it’s only just over a month until we draw our massive cash raffle on Mother’s Day – with three amazing cash prizes. The draw will be live from the Withcott sanctuary, and you have to be in it to win it!
First prize is $10,000, 2nd prize $3000, and 3rd prize $1500.
This is the link if you’d like to buy a ticket: Buy Tickets Here
Candida Baker – President
I was only five years old when I first noticed that horses made me happy. My best friend, Sally, a couple of years older than me, had a perfect first pony, a grey Welsh Cob called Lucy, as safe, sound and sane as they come, and Sally was kind enough to let me spend hours with them both, grooming Lucy, or walking beside them both while Sally rode, or even riding myself, or best of all, doubling together.
Looking back through the mists of time, there’s something that stands out about those early memories – and that’s the fact that the absolute best times we shared were not necessarily the riding ones. The times spent talking down by the river while Lucy munched contentedly beside us; the times when we would tuck Lucy up in her stable, out of the bad weather, and just hang in there with her, plaiting her mane or simply sometimes just leaning against her, inhaling her warm horsey smell. All three of us just about as content as it’s possible for girls and pony to be.
Fast forward almost sixty years and 12,000 miles away from the country of my birth, and here I am, with a group of like-minded women having just taken part in the Equine Facilitated Learning Level 1 course – in order to become practitioners of this groundwork based course, in which there are three participants – the client, the horse and the facilitator.
After many years of horse rescue and rehabilitation, natural horsemanship and the teaching of my own methods to children, friends, family and volunteer helpers, I’m not new to the world of equine therapeutic modalities, but I decided to do this course for a specific reason – I wanted to have a qualification which will allow me to do something I’m passionate about – to set up horse groundwork sessions for our rescue horses and for those who might benefit from time spent hanging out with horses, in which ‘magic’ is the key ingredient.
And here’s the thing – our move to Withcott is to enable to set up these programs, and so far thanks to all your generous donations we’ve raised $7500 of the $13,000 we’ve budgeted for the move so in order for us to reach our goal, if you would care to donate to our Withcott move at any time in the next six weeks, you can donate by clicking on this link.
It was an intense four days! The clinic was conducted by Elaine Hughes, the guardian of EFL in Australia. Originally from the UK, but now based in Victoria, Elaine has had many decades of horse experience, and has studied with many of the ‘natural’ trainers, but it was a meeting with Frank Levinson, the founder of EFL, that prompted her interest in the program. When she and her family of four and two-legged friends moved to Australia, Elaine partnered with Sally Francis to create AEFL. Elaine teaches the clinic with her two off-siders, Louise, otherwise known as Irish, and her partner Dave.
What I witnessed as we moved through the four days into a deeper understanding of the horse and human bond, culminating in working with ‘real’ clients on the last day is that EFL seems to substantially deepen people’s understanding of their personal issues and feelings, and that some level of fundamental relaxation occurs.
But the careful – almost invisible – guidance of the facilitator also allows children and adults to experience, as Elaine says: “a huge surge in self-esteem and confidence when they realise they can create boundaries and direct a pony or horse to move in a particular way.”
And WOW – the women I did the course with, what an extraordinary group of women, and on this year’s International Women’s Day – with the emphasis on progress this year, I would like to take my (horse) hat off to them. There was Sue and Rachel, both from the Northern Territory; Elisha, Talitha, Sonja and Meg and myself – all local; Nancy from Beaudesert; Naomi from the hinterland of the Gold Coast, Cathy Binz, our new Committee member and Program Director, from Brisbane and Magnolia from Kuranda – near Cairns. It was a privilege to watch these women – the majority with already very high horsemanship skills, listening to Elaine so intently, and taking on board the new concepts she presented so that we could go back out into the world with a whole new level of skill. It just goes to show that you never stop learning!
Over the course of the four days we were given real examples of EFL clients – children who had stopped speaking; people with anxiety and depression; children and adults with physical or intellectual (or both) disabilities; people who were simply afraid of horses and wanted to learn not to be – all of these scenarios (and more) were presented to us either in theory or practice with role play, or clients. It was an incredibly fulfilling experience for all of us to take our already existing horsemanship skills and our rapid immersion into EFL and to witness the ways in which we could help both ourselves, the client and the horse develop what I can only describe as an elasticity of brain and body. We learnt quickly to allow the space for the session to evolve into whatever is most fulfilling for the client and the horse.
Women and Horses. Oh yes.
People love to buy tickets at the last minute and indeed that’s what happened – we sold literally thousands of tickets in the last week and although we fell short of the 15,000 (our final ticket sales were 13,342) it was still a very good result for us!
It was also an extremely good result for our lucky winner, Heather Beard – and more on Heather and the raffle in a minute.
The last two weeks of February were spent (for management at least) getting ready for our AGM, finalising our audit so our financials could go up on the ACNC website, and as you can imagine that is no mean feat. But we managed it and the AGM of the Association was held on Tuesday 20 February with the 2017 audited financials now available on the ACNC website.
At the AGM all members of the management committee must stand down and elections held. I was re-elected as President, Suzanne Young, re-elected as Treasurer and Rachel Daniels-Fitzpatrick re-elected as a committee member. We also have the addition of Cathy Binz and Cameron Burnett joining us as committee members.
We now have a great deal of equine experience and a variety of diverse skills and talents on our Committee and senior staff. Cathy is a qualified EA Level 1 Coach, a dressage rider, and has a large amount of non-profit experience, while Cameron is a solicitor who owns several horses and has been associated with SAHA for several years. We are very excited to expand our committee and have them on board.
So as you will all be aware we have put a lot of thought recently into the future of SAHA. How do we ensure that the Charity will exist forever, and how do we create a strong financial foundation for it in order for that to be possible and for SAHA to be able to fulfil its mission statement of continuing to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home horses?
Obviously one of the things we’ve been working on is creating diverse income streams, so that the Charity is not always dependent solely on donations.
At the AGM I expanded on the plans for the future of SAHA, including the development of therapy programs to not only provide additional income streams for the charity but to provide essential services to the community and most importantly give our precious retired horses a purpose and as much people interaction as possible which helps to keep them mentally stimulated. Any horse lover knows how much horses enjoy a ‘job’, even when that job is simply being patted, groomed and walked on regular occasions.
In the next week or so I hope to be able to bring you an actual timetable for the introduction of these programs, and a fuller description of them all. Believe me, it’s all systems go behind the scenes!
To wind up the AGM business, we were all of course, immensely proud that the ACNC has recently signed off on the Charity’s improvements to policies and procedures and governance and we are now able to display the ACNC Registered Charity Tick.
As a registered charity, of course when we run raffles we need to ensure that we have all the proper raffle permits, and that everything is run by the book. We have been very fortunate that the raffle income has helped sustain us since we launched it late last year, and even once we have taken out the cost of the float and Hilux, advertising and raffle-management fees we were left with enough to pay down all our major bills and cover us for a few months into the future.
To put it bluntly though, we need several raffles a year, on top of donations and programs to ensure that we bring in the $1m plus that it costs to keep the Charity going with the ongoing daily care of over 100 horses, two sanctuaries, staff, maintenance, equipment and rent. One of the lovely aspects of running raffles is making THE call – although Heather was missing in action for a while due to a phone on silent – (!) and listening to the sheer joy when you tell them the news that they’ve won a prize worth $80,000.
Heather, who lives on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, has bred Stock Horses for many years on an agistment property, and the call came for her on what was otherwise a very sad day.
“I’d had to have my 21-year-old premier broodmare put to sleep yesterday,” she told me, “because she had massive tumours in her mouth and simply couldn’t eat, so I was very sad. It was a huge personal loss for me. Then to get the news late last night that I’d won was such an emotional high, so it was a bit of a roller-coaster day!”
Heather’s horses – ‘Maybah’ Stock Horses – are a huge part of her life. “I grew up on a cattle station near Alice Springs,” she says, “and even though I live and work in the city, horses have never stopped being part of my life – and they never will!”
On top of all of that, her tow vehicle, she said, “is a bit long in the tooth, and it’s been somewhat unreliable recently. I’ve been wondering how on earth I’d afford a new one – now I don’t have to worry at all.”
Heather’s daughter was in her final year at school last year, so Heather’s horse went on holiday to a friend’s property near Bathurst so Mum could concentrate on her daughter’s schooling. “I’m going to get my mare as soon as it’s a bit less hot,” she said, “and then I’ll be able to float her around in style.”
How wonderful the prize is going to someone who will get so much use from it. Heather has promised us photos of the Hilux, and the float once Olympic have made and delivered it.
Congratulations Heather from the Committee and all of us at SAHA.
The photo is of Heather competing at Sydney Royal on Maybah Chance in 2009 is by Narelle Wockner.
And for our most recent horse update, we’ve adopted out two horses in February, our beautiful mares Bling and London, which brings the number back down to 100 – for just a few days before our next rescue arrives!
NOT ONLY BUT ALSO we have some big news soon so watch out for another email coming in the next few days.
Thank you all for your continued support – we can’t do without you!
Candida Baker, President
I think it would be fair to say that it’s been an eventful year. We’ve survived several floods, droughts, several bouts of severe colic and expensive hospitalizations, the unexpected arrival of Pickles our surprise foal, the tragic death of Desiree, his mother, and a steady stream of SAHA horses coming back into care. This, of course, is the beauty of a SAHA lifetime adoption contract, but at the same time with only 50 acres between our two sanctuaries it hasn’t always been easy to fit them all in.
The fact is that a charity survives on donations and boy, have you guys donated this year, allowing us to continue our high-level of care for our now 105 horses in care, and to plan for some wonderful expansion into therapy programs next year which we will be announcing very soon. You guys all saw a tiny taster with the visit of our minis, Milo and Charming to a nursing home, which went off SO well and we have many more planned for our little mascots.
Our minis are a very good example of our work because they were both rescued with terrible hooves, and although we have gradually rehabilitated them, they do have permanent changes to their pedal bones, and therefore they are not adoptable. We decided that it was very important for them to have a ‘job’ – as it is for all horses in my opinion – even if the ‘job’ is being a companion, and so they will help us spread the word of SAHA far and wide, and bring people a lot of joy as they do so.
Joy. It is the season to be merry, and we are enormously grateful to still be here. We have adopted out 31 horses since March – almost one a week which is amazing, and although a few of our lovely old ones have crossed the rainbow bridge (to be always remembered on our website) we are very lucky that our horses – thanks to you guys – stay in such amazing health.
I would like to thank you personally and on behalf of the Committee and staff for digging deep over and over (and over and over) again for us. We have a few large feedbills including one with our lovely Goodna produce who are so supportive of us, and we are truly desperate to get it down for them before the New Year. Can you spare just a small donation from your Christmas food fund to help us feed our hungry horses?
It’s hard for anyone to imagine the size of our feed bills – a bale of hay at approximately $10 -13 per bale feeds 2-3 horses per day, and we have 105 horses in care, which is a staggering $350 PER DAY or $2,450 per week. On top of that we go through 40 bags of hard feed a week at approximately $22 a bag at each sanctuary, which is $1800 per week – so our feed bills, before we start with supplements or joint formulas or any of the specific feeds we need for high-maintenance horses is in the region of $4,250 per week!!
All it takes is for us not to be able to pay our full feed bills for three or four weeks, and suddenly it’s looking massive.
Not unnaturally Christmas is our most difficult time of year – a lot of people are away, and our donations drop. We often find it difficult to make ends meet.
Just look at the amazing photos of our beautiful old man Caddie – he was so skinny and emaciated and he is now well and happy – that is what your donations do for us!
CAN YOU HELP US this Christmas so we can face the New Year with a lovely clean slate?
Thank you so much for everything you do for our lovely rescue horses. We hope you all have a wonderful, safe, peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year.
Candida Baker, President
It seems so long ago now, but just like any month with Save a Horse Australia, it was full of triumph and tribulation! It started with a bang with our beautiful old boy Moonshine suddenly coming down with colic. Moonshine was rushed to West Vets where he was admitted to intensive care for 24 hours, and treated for another four days. We are SO lucky to have such amazing supporters because his care was not cheap, and it was covered by a Moonshine Fundraiser. Also, to be honest, he was not the best-behaved patient on the planet according to the vets, but they rather took to his curmudgeonly personality, and once he was back with his friends in their luxury retirement paddock at Buccan, he was back to his old cheerful self.
It’s a funny thing about horses and vet treatment. Some horses seem to intuitively understand that you’re trying to help them – I’ve known horses be completely quiet and still through quite unpleasant procedures, just looking to their human for comfort, but then others, either perhaps because of trauma or abuse in the past, or even perhaps occasionally with a low-pain threshold can kick up a fuss at even the tiniest thing. What? Remove a thistle from my delicate nostril? You must be kidding? That is really scary!!!!
Then there was the rain again. It thundered down and washed away and turned our only-just-recovering paddocks into mud once more. With horses upturning buckets and eating feed straight out of the mud we did our horse feeder fundraiser, and wow did that produce some conversation on the Facebook page! But we love to see engagement, and ideas, and we loved it even more when Magnum Equine saw what we were doing and came to our help. The end result is that we raised enough money to buy 30 feeders at Magnum’s discounted price, and they also gave us an extra five for free. Watch this space for photos once the feeders – which are on their way to us – arrive. No more games for the naughty horses such as pretty and lively Mariah for instance, who likes to casually throw her feedbucket around.
Due to the rain, and our new Operations Manager, the wonderful Michelle Beatty settling into her role, we didn’t adopt out any horses in October, but Indiana’s owner had a chance of circumstance and this beautiful little riding horse came back to us, as well as companion horses Mac, London and Honey-Megs. It’s not easy to reduce numbers when horses return but this is the point of the SAHA contract – if people are no longer able to keep horses for one reason or another they come back to us and we can find them another beautiful home. At the time of writing this report we currently have 109 horses in care (including little Pickles).
It was SAHA’s personal End of Financial Year, and we ran a fundraiser which unfortunately did fall very short of the somewhat ambitious target we’d set BUT with the publication on social media of our latest promotional video we saw an extraordinary increase in the amount of likes, and followers on our Facebook page, and some great new donators and supporters coming on board which was very gratifying. As you all know we are so grateful for the fundraising support, but when we get new regular donations and sponsorship for horses, this is what really helps us to budget.
In conjunction with our EOFY it was a great time to re-think strategies for SAHA, and at the moment we are coming up with a strategic plan to see us through the next phase of growth, as we commence some wonderful ground-work based programs, a publication division, and offer more corporate partnerships so that we can work with people to become known as an advocate for horse welfare around Australia.
So we have to sneak into November, because as most of you would know, SAHA got an early and unexpected Christmas present when our lovely mare Desiree dropped a foal – a lovely chestnut colt – in the early morning hours of Thursday November 2. We had been told by the vet clinic that Desiree had miscarried and so beyond remarking that she seemed to be somewhat, shall we say, plump, we didn’t think she could possibly be pregnant. Also she wore it well, and because of the extremely erratic weather she had a summer combo on. So all in all, she was lucky, and we were lucky – the little fellow was born without incident and is blossoming at the Buccan sanctuary.
And what a game we had with his name! Our wonderful stable-hand Kasey and our rider Jess, were the lucky two to find him, and Kasey was determined he should be called Pickles. We put his name up for auction, and we’re not sure how long it will take Kasey’s family to recover from the bidding war that ensued, but in the end Pickles won the day. Although we have persuaded her that when he grows up Mr. Pickles might be a better name!
But it was a day of mixed emotions because it was also the day that we had decided to finally put our beautiful appaloosa, Texas to sleep. Texas had been fighting a battle with his tumours, and when they began to break out on his legs, just at the point of his joints, the vet’s advice was that it was much kinder to put our darling boy to sleep. He spent his last day grazing in the garden, and eating a huge bag of carrots! Run free sweet man…
Getting back to Christmas and the end of the year beckoning – DON’T FORGET our calendar and our raffle! They make great Christmas gifts!
Our calendar, which has the most beautiful photographs by Byron Bay based photographer Heidi Flumm, is available through our shop here.
And what could be better to buy for your horse-obsessed loved one than tickets in our massive Olympic Float Toyota HiLux raffle, which will be drawn on – wait for it – Valentine’s Day. So buy your love (or even get your love to buy you) a Christmas Present that will hopefully produce you the winning ticket for February 14. The prize is valued at over $80,000! You can get your tickets by clicking here.
Michelle has had a lifelong connection with horses, first growing up in New Zealand, and later training and competing her own horses. After a career in the corporate world her love of horses led her to volunteering with the McIntyre Centre, Riding for Disabled in Brisbane. The McIntyre Centre, the largest independent RDA in Australia, provides over 4000 therapeutic horse-riding lessons to children and young adults with disabilities annually.
It wasn’t long before Michelle’s talent for organisation and her commitment to horses was spotted. Starting fulltime with the Centre in 2010 as part of the management team, initially in business development, in 2014 she was appointed Operations Manager, overseeing riding Instructors, and stable hands and 100-plus volunteers – as well as being responsible for the herd of up to 40 horses.
With her background in corporate business as well, Michelle was responsible for the Operations Safety and Risk Management, Bio security and was able to introduce a much needed Horse Database (very exciting news to our Administration Manager).
“My whole life has been and is about horses,” Michelle says, pictured here with Santa out at Tarampa. “I own nine horses and five of them are over 30. I also have a daughter who is mad on all things equestrian so many weekends are spent going to competitions and travelling around the countryside competing.”
Based up in the Lockyer Valley, Michelle will divide her time between the two sanctuaries – and I know that we are all looking forward to having her with us.
This is more an update than a report due to being away for the whole of September, having something called a ‘holiday’, the memory of which has faded into the dim and distant past all too quickly!
In September our lovely boy Sunny was surrendered to us with what turned out to be a large cancerous growth on his flank. It’s since been removed and is healing nicely, and we are hoping to assess him under saddle soon. Tyke, Ace, Gangster, Bigalow and our funny favourite quacking horse, Duck were all adopted, but Ellie-May came back into care. We’ll do a full October report at the end of this month, which will also be the end of our financial year.
For your interest, and so you can see the amazing work that we can do with our fundraisers behind us, here are three pictures of Sunny’s lump, the removal and the healing:
It’s this kind of rescue work that your support enables us to keep on doing and Sunny will go on to a bright, sunny future we are sure. To support our rescue horses, even with a small regular donation or sponsorship, is what keeps us going. To learn more go to our website: saveahorse.org.au
In other news our new promotional video and our new calendar are almost ready and we are very proud of both of them, and in the meantime don’t forget to buy your horse-obsessed loved one a raffle ticket in our biggest ever raffle and be in the draw to win a Toyota Hilux and an Olympic Royal horsefloat. Or better still, point out to your loved one that they should buy YOU a raffle ticket! Click here to get your tickets.
Candida Baker, President
As usual, May was a massive month here at Save a Horse Australia. We adopted out four horses – Scout, Pandora, Remi and Otis – which is a wonderful result. As well, Noelle left for her new home, and in the first few days of June, Jaylet and our wonderfully exuberant buckskin, Muz, left us for their homes.
This means that currently we have 109 horses in care between what are now our two sanctuaries at Buccan and Tarampa. Unfortunately for SAHA our rental property at Minden was sold and the new owners decided to live there. We made the decision that continuing to downsize for the moment and to re-home as many of the horses as we have that we can before we rescue again was the way to go, and so we had to say a sad goodbye to Minden, with special thanks to Lori and Phil for managing the sanctuary, Carissa for being our stablehand and to all the volunteers who worked above and beyond for SAHA.
A few people have asked us recently about adoptions – why it sometimes doesn’t work out, or even, with a difficult horse, why it does, and also how do we choose someone to adopt a horse. Helen Hayes, our Operations Manager, is also our Adoption Manager and over the years Helen has built up a lot of experience. She’s able to see quite quickly if a horse and a human are going to make a good pair, but even then it’s not an exact science – unfortunately, particularly as Helen says, you’re talking about horses who often have a high-level of trauma.
“The process we go through with each horse of gradually rehabilitating it so that it’s easy to handle on the ground is very important,” Helen says. “Once we’ve got that established and we’ve had the horse or pony fully assessed physically then we can start with moving towards having the horse assessed for riding. Depending on whether the horse has been started under saddle or not it will either go to the trainer, or if we’re confident that it’s fairly quiet, our rider, Jess, will start to ride it. Once Jess is riding the horse regularly and we see how it goes with the work that we give it, then we can start thinking about adopting it out, but depending on the horse and whether it’s come in with a physical injury or psychological trauma, it can take anything from as little as a month or two to as long as a year or two!”
SAHA has a very high success rates for its adoptions, but every now and then it doesn’t work out, and if it doesn’t then the horse comes straight back to us and we can reassess the situation. Of course what our supporters do allows us to give all our horses the time they need and it’s one of the million reasons we are so constantly grateful. Taking a horse through its rehabilitation from the time they arrive at SAHA to the time they leave for what we hope will be their ‘forever’ home takes infinite amounts of time, patience and attention.
Of all those qualities, perhaps ‘attention’ is the one that is the least understood, because it is a quality that is only gained over decades or a lifetime experience with horses. It’s when, as a ‘horse’ person you begin to read every nuance of their behaviour, and to speak their physical language. The fact is that horses are as varied in their characters as humans – from chilled-out, laid-back souls who take most things in their stride, to highly-strung, complex personalities who need extra TLC on an ongoing basis. Over the past 57 years of my lifetime, since my first naughty little pony at the age of five, it’s been my privilege to be involved with hundreds – possibly even thousands – of different horses, and one of the most wonderful aspects of working with SAHA is being involved with an organisation dedicated to allowing horses to take the time it takes to heal.
So how do you know what a horse might be, or become good at – or even want to do? Well, the old adage that you can take a horse to water but not make it drink is certainly true here. I once knew an eventer in France who had to travel his retired eventing horse with him to competitions because the horse hated being left home so much he would get himself into a lather. My friend would take him, and give him a little ride because, as he said, “he wants to think he’s still useful and he always loved it so much,” and the horse would be happy. He officially retired at 20, and spent another 10 years not realising he was retired!
Older horses are in many respects like older humans, they have a wealth of knowledge and often a love for their humans, and they like to be useful. My old horse was the ultimate teacher for young horses, guiding them through water for the first time, along busy roads, past dogs and rubbish bins and noisy scary flapping things. Even after he retired from riding I would walk him out with the young ones, and I am absolutely sure he knew he was ‘teaching’ them.
In the end, it’s not even really what a horse does – it’s who the horse does whatever it does with, and how. There are wonderful horse owners in every discipline, and sadly there are also horse owners in every discipline who are not so wonderful. Although at SAHA it’s not our job to necessarily take a horse to the point where we uncover its full potential as a riding horse, or even as a horse with groundwork or therapy potential, it is our job to know that when they leave us they are going to the right person, with the right skills, so they have the best possible chance for a great life. Mostly we get it right, occasionally we get it wrong, and when we do I’m happy to say that those adopters often adopt another horse successfully and the one they’ve given back to us goes on to find its perfect home.
In the meantime it’s business as usual at SAHA. We still have our wonderful raffles up and running so don’t forget if you’re after a Horseland saddle package or an Olympic Royal float, we still have tickets left for both. (With huge thanks to Horseland and Olympic Trailers for their continued support of SAHA).
Candida Baker – President
“I can’t do it anymore,” Danina told her partner Craig. “I’m done.”
She kissed Zana’s head – she’d been keeping her mare’s head out of the flood waters with one arm underneath her head and one under her chin. Swept into a tree by the raging torrent that had come through their property in the night, the mare was hanging onto life by a thread.
“I’ve done everything I can possible do for you,” Danina told the big bay. “I love you and I have to swim away.”
Danina will never know if it was her goodbye that triggered the mare to give an almighty kick with her back legs, but that kick changed everything. Loosened a little from the tree, they were able to get a paddle-board under the mare’s head, and Craig could keep on trying to cut away the vines and branches keeping her trapped.
“I was screaming at him,” Danina says. “He was doing his best – at one point he shouted out because a snake swam straight across her belly, and I just told him, ‘I don’t care about the snake, just get rid of the snake!’”
It was early in the morning when Danina and Craig went out of the house to find the devastation that had been caused in the night. They’d cut the fences so that the horses could go to higher ground – and three of them, stockhorses, including Danina’s adopted SAHA horse, Maggie, were there safe, high on the hill. But Archie, a chestnut thoroughbred was further down the hill, the water up to his shoulders, and Zana and the two mini-ponies, Cody and Molly (rescued by SAHA and later adopted by Danina) were nowhere to be seen.
“That’s still the thing that sticks in my mind,” she says. “The stockhorses all went for the high ground, and the thoroughbreds came down into the flood water, and obviously the ponies followed. I have no idea why they went into the water.”
Cody and Molly’s bodies were found a few days later. They were buried together once the floodwaters had receded, but at the time when she first found Archie, Danina thought Zana had gone too.
“I was standing with him in the water because he was simply refusing to move, and at the time I didn’t realise he’d cut his leg to the bone, but it was then that I heard these noises coming from nearby and further down, where the water was deeper, I could just see Zana in the tree.”
Danina swam to her, and started to tread water, balancing precariously on part of the tree, trying to soothe the terrified, exhausted and struggling horse. When Craig joined he started to dive underneath trying to free her, and when Zana’s almighty kick happened, it wasn’t long before she was free.
But then Danina couldn’t believe her eyes. “Zana swam straight into another tree,” she says. “This time it was reversed – Craig was holding her and I was trying to get the vines off her, but I was getting terrified myself, and exhausted, but thank god we managed it and she swam away towards the higher ground while we yelled and whooped at her to keep swimming.”
Not long after the farmer whose land the horses had taken rescue on came past – in a boat. “In sixty years I’ve never seen a flood like this,” he told them.
“It helped a little to hear that,” says Danina. “We found out the flood waters were rising a metre every eight minutes – if you think about that it’s inconceivable.”
Almost as inconceivable as the fact that, despite the tragic loss of Cody and Molly, Archie and Zana survived their ordeal.
But at a cost.
“We’ve had burial costs for the ponies, and so far the vet bills have been around $5,000,” she says. “I am just so grateful that SAHA can help me with them.”
For us, this is what the fundraiser is for. Danina was a foster carer with SAHA for three years before she adopted Molly and Maggie, and her commitment and love to her horses was already enormous before this event, when, as she says: “I didn’t even think until much later that I was putting my own life at risk. I just didn’t care. The only time that I gave up was when I thought it was hopeless – and Zana, thank God had other ideas! But I couldn’t have done it without Craig either. It was a team effort – all three of us.”
Zana has been on bronchial dilating drugs to drain the fluid from her lungs and antibiotics, and is doing well at the moment. Archie, who is at the Scenic Rim vet surgery has also started putting weight back on his leg, but it’s a few weeks off being fully healed. “The big test is if the bone has dried out too much they’ll have to cut some off,” Danina explained, “but so far, so good.”
Talking to Danina about the response to Jen Malloch’s first post about her traumatic experience, Danina couldn’t believe the warmth and love that the post generated.
“For me it was a wonderful and healing moment to receive all those well wishes and kind thoughts. It made me feel connected to everybody out there, and that was such a huge relief,” she says, “because going through a flood of that kind is an isolating experience, and going through that loss even more so.”
Candida Baker – Acting President
I thought that you would love to know about the amazing work done behind the scenes by our adoption manager Helen Hayes, and I thought I would share this fantastic result with you.
Crickette, Duffy, Oakie, Howard, Saint, Casper and Freddie were all adopted last month and we couldn’t be happier for them. I”m gradually getting to know the horses – I met Howard when he first arrived at SAHA and I must say I thought he was a very handsome boy! All the new owners are thrilled and we look forward to getting updates.
So at the time of writing this – Friday March 3, 2017, we now have 123 horses in care. 84 horses divided between our three sanctuaries, ten horses with our trainers, 25 in foster care, and four at the vets.
A Frequently Asked Question (almost every day!) is how our foster care plan works, and who pays for what. SAHA covers all costs for a foster carer, uness they want to make a donation towards the horse they are fostering – which they often do, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for it.
As you can imagine, one of our main expenses is continuing to look after our beloved Golden Oldies, many of whom need extra supplements, and of course the young ones who are waiting to grow up and join the world of Happy Healthy Useful Horses. We would LOVE to find some more sponsors for our Golden Oldies, many of whom have had traumatic backgrounds and need to stay with us forever. (Here is a link to some more info: saveahorse.org.au/sponsor-a-horse/ ) If you sponsor a horse, you can go in and change sponsorship details anytime, so you are not locked in.
If you have a specific question re adopting, sponsoring or donating please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
We will update again next month and until then:
May The Horse Be With You…