A couple of weeks ago I was sitting around with my friend Bronwyn, looking at horses for sale on-line. She was looking for a quiet horse for her sixteen year old daughter. We started looking at sites dedicated to giving sale-yard horses a second chance – ones that were heading for slaughter. There are many wonderful people who volunteer to publicise these last-chance horses. And with the drought hitting hard in NSW and Queensland there are far, far too many of them.
Lofty’s On-Line Photo
Well, my friend decided to take a chance on one of these horses – a little chestnut mare called Trixie. Then my son Matt came in, sat down with us and started scrolling through the horses. Lofty, a big standardbred gelding with a noble head caught his eye. The picture is on the right. In the end Matt decided to spend all his savings on buying Lofty and transporting him here from the Echuca Sale Yards.
Lofty Safe At Home
This was a risky enterprise. Buying horses the old-fashioned way is tricky enough. Buying sight-unseen from the briefest of descriptions is slightly insane. Nevertheless Bronwyn and Matt went ahead, knowing that these horses were in dire straits. We spent a nervous few days waiting. Horror stories about buying horses on-line emerged from the woodwork. The lady who bought a stockhorse, and it turned out to be a just-off-the-track thoroughbred that almost killed her husband. The girl who bought a yearling filly and found an unhandled two year old colt dumped in her paddock instead. Weeks later she still hadn’t caught it! I’m sure you’ve all heard many more.
Well, the horses arrived on Sunday, shell-shocked and a little the worse for wear. A few cuts and scrapes. BUT they are beautiful! Trixie has a new home with a doting teenage girl to love her. Lofty is settling in, and is well on his way to becoming Matt’s pride and joy. A total gentleman with perfect manners, and at 16.2 hh he’s big enough to carry Matt and all his camping gear. I had a cry yesterday, thinking about where these lovely horses might have ended up. Trixie had been totally neglected, however Lofty’s feet were trim and his mane and tail tidy. Somebody once loved this beautiful horse, but he still ended up on a truck heading for oblivion. I wish I could reassure Lofty’s previous owner that he’s safe. I’m VERY proud of my son for doing such a great thing. And a huge thank you to the wonderful people who volunteer their time to give these horses a second chance!
The Melbourne Cup is run, the spring racing carnival in full swing, but as a massive horse lover, I can’t watch a race without seeing the misery behind it. The biggest animal welfare issue facing the Australian racing industry is wastage – a euphemism for the slaughter of twenty thousand thoroughbreds each year.
Eighty percent of horses get no life after racing. Take Deposer, for example. This magnificent horse raced at Royal Ascot, went to Hong Kong, then came to Australia and won more than $1.1 million for his owners – before being dumped in the Echuca meat pens. He was alone, forgotten and left for dead, when filmed by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses last year. Deposer was due to join thousands of terrified, often starving and terribly injured horses, in a desolate dogger’s yard. They are taken one by one into a killing box, and shot in front of each other for pet food, crab-pot bait and export meat. More than ten thousand thoroughbreds slaughtered each year are healthy young animals under seven years old. Call me a party-pooper, but that just stinks!
Celebrity vet Dr Chris Brown has got behind a proposal for the Australian racing industry to use a tiny 1% of all betting turnover to establish a retirement plan for horses. Along with this, the proposal calls for some other preventative measures (such as a reduction in breeding) to stem the issue of wastage, and in the long-term, end the slaughter of thoroughbreds. A 1% betting levy would result in $143 million annually being given back to racehorses, thus sharing the riches from the ‘Sport of Kings.’
In the meantime, North West Equine Rescue INC have vowed to take off the track racehorses when their career is over (sometimes before it even starts).
NWER INC is a Not-for-Profit registered charity with three bases in Moree, Armidale and Tamworth. Since registering in 2012 NWER has successfully rescued and rehomed 397 horses. NWER is funded by the generosity of the public, meaning they receive NO government funding. Volunteers have twenty-four horses in care at any given time. Their mission is to rescue as many sick, injured and slaughter-bound animals as possible, set their lives on a different path and give them the second chance they deserve! NWER have set out to raise $5,000 to rescue seven thoroughbreds facing slaughter, re-educate and rehome them. They are still a long way off target. You can donate as little as a dollar. Help put a doomed racehorse in the arms of these angels. It only seems fair, don’t you think? www.northwestequine.org.au firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/North.West.Equine.Rescue