George’s horses – A tribute to Jackie

For the story so far please read Georges’ horses – Part One

One of the horses to arrive from George was Jackie. A lovely black TB mare. Jackie was aged but in good condition and, a horse with the most beautiful nature.

Soon after Jackie’s arrival we took in a filly, Rosie straight from the slaughter yard, where she had waited for two weeks for slaughter. Luckily, her fate changed and Rosie came to us.  See Rosie’s story at The secret hidden in the Rose.

Rosie needed love. lots of love. She needed someone to give her confidence and a feeling of safety, someone to heal her soul.

And in the paddock was Jackie. Jackie immediately adopted Rosie. She would share her food bucket, gently encouraged Rosie to mutually groom, watched over Rosie.

With more horses arriving I knew I had to rehome Jackie  as she was in good health and with an ideal temperament.  But I could not deprive Rosie of her surrogate mother and guide.

So I put Jackie up for adoption, with the proviso that Jackie and Rosie be homed together. A friend was looking for a safe riding horse (gentle occasional riding!) and Jackie fitted the bill. She was happy to adopt Rosie as well. This was an experienced, loving and caring home  and so, as hard as it was to part with them both, we were so glad that such a great home was offered.

The years passed.  Rosie has matured and able to live with other horses happily. Jackie looked after the young horses, always the mentor, always the guide, always giving comfort and confidence. Then she became the companion of an aged standard bred, and just recently all moved to a property even closer to us. Jackie never was ridden again, she just had a life of leisure.

So every day I could see Jackie  as I drove past, peacefully grazing with Johnny, her friend. I knew, however, that her health was starting to fail. I was always updated though and she was receiving every care. Jackie would rally but clearly age was catching up.

A few weeks ago Johnny peacefully passed. Jackie grieved and her health faltered. She had a new companion, was moved close to the house, fed, rugged, tested and loved….but we all knew it was just a matter of time.

Jackie last photo

Last night, comfortable and pain free, Jackie passed, to be with Johnny and to meet back up with George, Twinkie, Call Me Misty, My Misty, Rachael (the Filly), and all her other friends.

Bless you Jackie and thank you to Nat who loved and cared for Jackie in her final years.

Jackie will be buried at her home. Nat has chosen a lovely spot that overlooks our property.

Vale Jackie

George’s horses…, loss and compassion (Part 1)

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

Five years ago, a large horse transport arrived at our gate. With helpers on hand, we unloaded five ponies and horses to start a new life. There should have been six, but more on the mare who stayed behind later.

This rescue had started two years earlier. A caring social worker had made contact with Edgar’s Mission….’ Did they know anyone who could assist an elderly man, in poor health and in hospital, manage his eight horses?’

The man in question was George, who lived some distance from Edgar’s Mission. In his eighties’, for many years he had run a riding establishment, and now lived alone in an area fast being developed for housing, with his remaining equines.

George cared deeply for his friends, but health and finances made it hard for him to care for his horses, many of them of an advanced age. But he was terrified that if he asked for help, those in power would take his horses from him.

All he wanted was to live out his remaining days at home and with his beloved horses.

Pam at Edgars Mission contacted me to ask if I knew of anyone close by who could assist. Making call after call I tried to find a local horse group or a person who could help. The previous owner of one of the mares stated she could not help…but if the mare needed a new home she would take her back…..

In the meantime I had become involved in a local animal neglect problem. Seeking to find someone who could assist with a matter the authorities would not I came across an animal advocate who I shall call Bob. By chance I found out that Bob, an experienced horseman, lived in the same locality as George.

Finally someone local was willing to get involved. With a media campaign, volunteers were forthcoming, and other established horse groups came into assist with expertise and gear.

Georges Horses 042

A representative from TREW with George and My Misty

Over the months George’s horses received farrier support, vet care, rugs, and feed. Sadly two had to be euthanized due to age and ailments but George was thrilled to have his horses close.

George’s health was failing. I sent him some warm pyjama’s and chocolate for his birthday and had a lovely ‘phone call in return. I planned to make the trip to meet him, but the demands of a young daughter, a number of rescue horses arriving, and caring for our animals meant time was limited to do so.

I let Bob know when the time came I could take the little Shetland mare ‘Twinkie’ and her forever friend.

Then I received a call from ‘Bob’…George had died. He has asked Bob to care for his six remaining horses, but without land, Bob needed to find a home for them as soon as possible…..could we help?

Hastily we rearranged paddocks and waited for the transporter to arrive. The horses had been yarded the previous evening but one, ‘The Filly’, had escaped, and subsequently refused to load. As George had rented his premises emergency accommodation was found at a property opposite, and one of the volunteers offered to care for her.

On a clear sunny morning, the truck drew up. Two pony mares, a thoroughbred mare, a pony gelding, and a standard bred mare.

GEorges horses 016

Twinkie, a beautiful taffy Shetland was the first I saw. I cried. She clearly was not able to be in a paddock with hooves needing remedial work, her Cushing’s out of control and in pain from the trip. We arranged for  the truck to take her, and her faithful friend, My Misty, straight to the loose boxes.

Jackie, a thoroughbred mare, Call Me Misty, a standard bred mare, and Flip,the pony gelding were settled in the paddocks.

GEorges horses 024

A very overweight Flip

GEorges horses 025

Call Me Misty

GEorges horses 021

Jackie (at rear), Call Me Misty, and Flip (at front)


GEorges horses 017

My Misty

An additional five horses, two in need of high of care…….it was a big job. A visiting horse trainer offered to run a clinic to raise much needed funds, so amongst the other work we arranged a clinic on the property.

Our first priority was Twinkie. A specialist farrier attended and did her and Misty’s hooves. However there were more issues. Twinkie had been on Pergolide but it was out of date, and so her Cushings was not controlled.

GEorges horses 032

Twinkie after her trim. Vera looking on

Twinkie developed laminitis. Ballarat Vet Practice attended and we set her up in the stable with IV pain relief, fluid support, anti ulcer medication, and Pergolide, to get her back on track.

GEorges horses 033

My Misty. She had an eye condition…please excuse the loose headstall…it was temporary!

With Twinkie’s pain not resolving, we then discovered an abscess, which was also treated. After 48 hours intensive care, Twinkie improved, and for a memorable few hours, she and My Misty grazed on our lawn, happy and pain free. The vet was thrilled. Thirty minutes later Poss, who had been in a new paddock, presented with a leg injury, so I called the vet to attend the next day for both him and to review Twinkie.

Then overnight disaster struck. I had been checking Twinkie every two hours. At 2am I found her shivering with an elevated respirations. I called in the vet and Twinkie and I  waited together, with My Misty close by.  I told her if she needed to leave, to go with George, she must do so. I would look after the others.

Then the vet arrived. Examining Twinkie it was clear she needed to be put out of her pain. She appeared to have peritonitis with the infection out of control. We had no choice. I just sobbed. I was so tired, the last two weeks had been intense. We believe Twinkie possibly had bad ulcers due to continuous bute and suffered an intestinal rupture.

So within a week of her arrival I farewelled Twinkie…her work was done and she was off to be with George. We buried her under the trees and now my focus was to care for the grieving Misty, as well as Flip, Jackie, Call me Misty and to find a way to get ‘The Filly’ to us as well……



to be continued……………..



















Tex, a lucky rescue

He is happiest be he king or peasant who finds peace in his home

Johann Wolfgang van Goethe


The easiest task in rescue is to say yes to every animal you see in need.

The hardest, and most heartbreaking, time in rescue is when you have to say no.

‘No, we cannot take in the sheep from the pound.’

‘No we cannot take in this horse to stop it from being slaughtered,.’

‘No I cannot take the cat you no longer want…..’

Animal rescue groups get calls and e mails every day asking them to take in stray and unwanted animals. Often the timeframes are urgent…‘The horse must be off the property this week….’, ‘The dog will be shot unless a home is found by tomorrow….’ 

Less often workable timelines are there, a relief , giving the animal a chance.

And when a rescuer has to say no, most will refer the caller, or will themselves,  try another group, in the hope a home can be found.

And so the call is put out, ‘Can you take in…….?’, ‘Do you know of anyone who could take in……’   Telephone calls, e mails, social media postings.

So every rescued animal is lucky. Lucky someone cared enough to see them in trouble, to contact a rescue group, and lucky that for them, the rescue group could say YES.

Tex was bred to trot fast, fast enough to win money for his owner and trainer. Tex was not fast, and so Tex was sent to the saleyards.

Tex was then bought buy a ‘meat buyer’, destination to be slaughtered, at just 4 years of age. He has not even got his full set of adult teeth yet.

Then Tex got lucky. Due to his good nature he was sold to a person who wanted a horse. So it looked like Tex’s worries are over……except not quite.

Experienced horse carers will tell you. that the cheapest part of owning a horse is buying a horse. Many people decide to rescue a horse, without factoring in the actual cost of caring for a healthy horse, let alone the costs to cover illness or accidents. or times of drought and increased fodder costs.

So Tex found himself in a paddock with a well meaning, but totally inexperienced carer. He developed a hoof abscess (a common hoof ailment). The cost of treating this set the carer ‘over the edge’ financially and it was very apparent that their knowledge of handling was minimal and in fact likely to put the horse, and them, at risk.

Then Tex got lucky again. His owner put in a call to an animal sanctuary. They could not assist but referred the caller onto Honey’s Pledge.

Young standard bred horses, untrained to saddle are sent to slaughter in their thousands every year, in line with the slaughter of thoroughbreds from the flat racing industry.

To get a call asking us to find a home for yet another of these poor animals is a blow, as inevitably we have to say no, we are already dealing with a number of horses needing homes.

But Tex was really lucky. Just weeks before, a supporter of Honey’s Pledge, had needed to euthanise their beloved aged horse , and they had contacted us regarding finding a companion for their rescue thoroughbred.

We put through a call to Jan and she agreed to give Tex a home for life. This is a ‘rolled gold’ forever home.

We contacted a  member of our committee, who was able to collect Tex the next day, and take him to their property to ensure hoof issues were resolved and to assess his overall well being,

So within hours I was able to call back to advise Tex would be safe for life. I also strongly recommended that the person not buy another horse and emphasised that the right homes are hard to find.

We were advised Tex travelled like a ‘pro’ and was soon settled in his short term home. Some of his behaviour was unusual until we were alerted to some of the handling issues from his previous home. These will settle with time and calm experienced handling.

Once we were happy that Tex had no ongoing hoof issues a transporter was contacted and Tex headed off in comfort for the next stage of his safe life journey.

Check him out in his new home with fellow rescue Al….we think he has not stopped eating that wonderful grass!!!

Tex was not undernourished or injured…but he was at risk …yet another standard bred superfluous to the industry in need of a home, where his value is as a living being in need of care and no more is expected of him.

Good luck Tex…..enjoy you new life…we were happy to play our part in getting you there




This slideshow requires JavaScript.





George’s journey

Young George is one of the lucky ones. His mum was rescued before he was born, and so George has only ever known a life of kindness, and it shows.

He is a confident, relaxed and happy little foal. At the time of writing (June 2014) he is just nine months old, still with his mum, Peaches and ‘aunty’ Cherry.

At Honey’s Pledge we believe there are so many animals reliant on humans for their care in need of homes, that there is no need for us to breed more animals. Our one exception is we do allow very occasional hatchings of poultry. The reason for this is to enable my young daughter to have some experience of the miracle and responsibilities of new life.

As lovely as it is to have baby animals (we love puppies, kittens, foals, calves, lambs, kids, and so on as much as anyone) there are thousands and thousands of animals put to death each month in want of a home.

Therefore an essential responsibility for us was to have young George gelded (castrated). This is also a practical requirement when caring for animals in a domestic setting. An ‘entire’ male animal needs to be segregated from females and can be challenging to handle once beyond the ‘cute’ stage.

So yesterday was the day. George was very calm although this was his first time in the loose box and first time in a headstall and lead rope. He had a injection to sedate him, and then had a general anaesthetic administered so he was blissfully asleep during the whole procedure.



Once under anaesthesia our vet started the procedure, with a  vet nurse on hand to ‘top up’ the anaesthetic as needed. The necessary surgery was quickly accomplished and the vet team then waited with us until George came out of his anaesthetic. Now for 24 hours ‘rest’ time with Mum in the loose box to enable blood clots to form and then back out to the paddock to ensure swelling is reduced. George will be monitored closely however he is already racing around back in the paddock, a happy and carefree little man.


Ruben keeps an eye on proceedings


Up and eating with Mum, Peaches

Ruth….running free

A wonderful next stage yesterday for two of Honey’s Pledge special residents.

Remember Ruth who came to us almost two years ago?

It has been a long haul with surgery to remover her eye and repair her leg ($8,000 of vet costs funded by us), but yesterday marked yet another new beginning for a special horse.

Until now we have kept Ruth is smaller paddocks with a companion to minimise the risk of any harm to her vulnerable leg. Stage by stage she has been moved to larger areas.

Yesterday was the big day. Leading Sophie, with Ruth and Troy following, I opened the gates to the ‘grasslands’…around 100 acres of grass and woodland where many of the horses spend the summer and autumn running as a herd.

Everyone loves the grasslands and Ruth and Sophie have not been permitted out there until now.

I took off Sophie’s headstall and the two mares trotted off for a look around, then did a U turn and galloped back past me, flying like the thoroughbreds they are.

It did not take them long to join the two herds with Daniel, Bear, Ginger, Cody, Manfred, Princess and Robbie, as well as Troy.

Here are Ruth, Sophie and Troy resting up after a big day.

A new summer and a new start

Leave  a horse in a good place, and we will find them in a better place. Leave them in a bad place, and we will find them in a worse place

Carlos Tabernaberri

One of the delights of summer is the arrival of beautiful summer fruits. Two of our favourites are peaches and cherries.

This year we have an added delight……..Peaches and Cherry, together with Peaches’ baby………are starting on a new path in life.

We met Peaches and Cherry back in autumn. We were on a property assisting with another horse when we saw them in a three sided shed and yard. Their carers at the time could not get near them. They were being offered for sale, unhandled and wild. Cherry had just had her colt weaned from her.

We were concerned that, if sold, they could well go from home to home, unhandled and without a safe future.  As they are attractive mares they may well have been used as brood mares to produce more ponies into a society with more horses than we can care for already. Once too old or weak to breed they would be sent to the sales or the knackery.

A contact agreed to take them, provide training and rehome them under a contract. An offer was made to do a trade of some much needed hay (as this was a time when fodder was scarce)  in exchange for these ponies.

Loading them onto a float was a major event. They made it safely to their new home. Both refused to have any contact with humans and were very frightened. Before training began however it became apparent Peaches was in foal and there was a suspicion that Cherry was also in foal.

So the focus shifted to ensuring they were in a suitable paddock for foaling.

In September Peaches safely gave birth to a lovely little colt.

The carer was wanting to separate the foal at 4 months and sell separately to his Mum. Whilst we appreciate that there are many different ways of managing situations, this was not what we wanted.

Fortunately we were able to come to an arrangement, and Peaches, Cherry and bubs have come fully back into the care of Honey’s Pledge.

Today they made a float trip to a skilled friend who will undertake basic handling for the mares so we are able to place them into permanent homes, and bubs gets to stay with Mum.

We were very pleased at the condition they had gained over winter. They all looked fantastic. Bubs is growing fast and Cherry has gained at least 1 hh.

Better still it is clear that Cherry is not in foal.

Please follow us on Facebook as we enjoy a new start for these three lovelies.

PS early reports tonight are really positive!!!

The secret hidden in the Rose…..the story of Rosie

A 12th century Persian poet wrote,

“Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose.

To see the wonderful transformation of Rosie click on the link below…..

The transformation of Rosie

and the full story………………

In April 2011 we were preparing for the first visit to Australia of Virginie Bernhard, a Swiss ‘freedom’ horse trainer, . Virginie was to be based at our property and this was a fantastic opportunity for her to work with our rescue horses so we decided to rescue two more in time for her visit.

A great (and courageous) friend went to a well-known knackery on a mission to bring out two horses, one for her rescue organisation,  and one for us, in time to enable Virginie to work with us and share her invaluable knowledge. The pony who came to us was Sally. See her story  The other was Chico who joined Sally in the paddock.

My friend specialises in standard bred rescue and rehabilitation. When at the knackery yards she noticed a number of standardbreds in the yards, two with leg injuries.

The following week, when she returned to the knackery, these two standardbreds were still there. We learned they had been in the yards, witnessing all of the horrors of the knackery, for at least two weeks. Two weeks of watching other horses being forced into the shute, of shooting and dismembering, the blood, the fear, the stench. Waiting their turn.

Rosie abattoir

Rosie at the knackery with Chico and other

I asked my friend to purchase one of the standardbreds. I wish we could have taken more, all, every single terrified animal there.  She chose the youngest, and on the float drive home rang me to tell me she was a ‘little filly’.’

It was nearing dusk as the float pulled in, and we unloaded the filly. She was thin and underdeveloped, absolutely covered in bites and kick marks, with rain scald, and with an old, obviously untreated wound, to her hind leg. On checking her brand we found she was only just 2 years old, and did not have a name. She had obviously been sent to the sales or direct to the knackery as she was unsuited to racing.

My young daughter was with us, and immediately she asked that the young filly be named ‘Rosie’.

The first touching moment was seeing Chico, who had been at the knackery with Rosie until the previous week, recognise her and come to the fence with a whinny of welcome. I hope he was telling Rosie not to be scared any more.


Chico, greeting Rosie on arrival at Honey’s Pledge

The second was two days later, when finally allowing herself to relax after the horror of the past weeks, we saw Rosie stretched out, in the fresh grass and sunshine, in a deep deep sleep.

Virginie did some initial work with Rosie but mainly we allowed her wounds to heal and for her to gain confidence in the paddock. Also, just weeks after the arrival of Rosie and Sally, we had five rescue horses and ponies arrive from a deceased estate, three of them needing very high levels of care.

One of these, the lovely mare, Jacqui, immediately ‘mothered’ Rosie, allowing her to share her feed bucket and keeping close by.

We moved Rosie up to the house paddock to allow more time for handling her, as she did not like anyone picking up her feet, especially her previously injured hind leg. One day I noticed a fracas near a large shed between Rosie and a pony over some hay. Like many horses who have experienced food deprivation, Rosie would get defensive about food.

Soon after I saw Rosie limping and going to check, found a horrific wound on the coronet band of her hind hoof, with arterial bleeding. Unable to get our usual vets,  I contacted a friend who recommended another practice close by. Luckily they were able to attend and were experienced with young unhandled horses.


Injury to Rosie’s coronet

I could not work out how the wound had happened until days later I saw two holes in the shed wall. These were about 2 meters off ground level and showed, on kicking out, Rosie had put BOTH hooves through a solid corrugated iron wall. I felt sickened at what would have happened if she had not been able to release her hooves and how lucky we were that thr was not far more terrible wounds.

Rosie shed impact 2

Holes in the corrugated iron shelter.

Fortunately there was no damage to Rosie’s tendons but she needed to be stabled to keep the dressings dry, and to have regular dressing changes. This presented a challenge. We received invaluable assistance from a local trainer and from experienced friends assisting with Rosie.

Rosie LOVED her stable and even when her leg had healed was very reluctant to give up the deep straw and shelter.

We were thrilled when a dear friend was willing to adopt both Jacqui and Rosie.. Our friend was studying the use of herbs to promote health and healing in horses, so Rosie was the beneficiary of this knowledge, as well as living in a loving home.

Rosie has developed and is now a stunningly healthy and happy horse. Affectionate and relaxed.

This rescue was only possible due to a number of people working together to their strengths. My friend who had the courage to go to the abattoir, Virginie and Pol who gave handling assistance. the vets who treated Rosie, my wonderful friend who gave Rosie a forever home and continued her rehabilitation.

The secret hidden Rose is now fully revealed in all her glory.


Saffron and the Good Samaritan

Often horse rescuers will get requests for a pony who is totally reliable, rideable, ‘bomb proof’ and suited to a child to take to pony club.

Although some of these ponies do find themselves at rescues at times, as a whole, they are more likely to be for sale with a four figure sale price attached,

A lucky few are valued by their families, who see their care as a lifetime responsibility and reward the pony for the service they have given. Others are passed on from child to child, family to family, and finally, too old to be ‘useful’ they are abandoned in a paddock, allowed to be given to an unsuitable home. sent to auction, sent to the knackery.

Saffron has clearly had better times.Saffron was someone’s beloved pony once.

We first heard of Saffron last week with a call from a neighbour and friend. She rang to pass on the information that a horse had been found on the main highway. A concerned person had seen her in her gateway, and thankfully she quickly moved her into her garden and secured the gate.

This lady has no experience with horses, but her one thought was…’If this were my pet I would want her safe’. She then set about contacting local vets, the shire and neighbours to try to find who the carer was.

After putting an interim post on FB I offered to assist with the horse, getting some better identification and a photograph plus anything else required.

On arriving I found an aged pony, initially reluctant to handled, she backed away, but with gentle talking she allowed me to put on a headstall and do a quick check over. She was clearly a pony who, although rugged, had had little other attention. The garden had ample grazing and the good Samaritan was happy for her to stay put for the time being so, I gave some basic care advice and waited to see if anyone claimed her. I also made enquiries with all local horse people and feed suppliers but no one knew the mare.

I later discovered that Saffron had been seen on the highway for at least three days. As the highway comes under the jurisdiction of VicRoads, the local ranger was not permitted to take action to secure and impound the mare…so Saffron had been left where she was. Apparently another person had put her in a nearby paddock, but for some reason she had been put back out on the road.

After some days the owner arrived. When advised that authorities and others had been notified of the mare the statement was made ‘ I thought she had drowned in my dam.”

The owner went on to say that, as the mare seemed happy where she was, did they want to keep her? This quick thinking and compassionate person agreed.

We arranged for Saffron to be surrendered on to Honey’s Pledge.

As a dentist was attending that week, Saffron has already had her teeth attended to. Watching how Saffron preferred to reverse rather than move forward, and her funny high stepping walk got me thinking.

Saffron is so reluctant to walk forward she had to be reversed onto the float and then turned, but she did it.

On arrival on a wet and bleak day, the float was backed into a large yard so Saffron could unload straight into the yard. She moved onto the fence line where there were other horses and stayed there.

After time to settle I went in to  assess Saffron, put on a new rug, show her where the water is and start her on a small feed. Quickly it was apparent that Saffron could not see. She cannot see the feed bucket, she stumbled over the water trough and was trembling as she tried to negotiate the strange environment, including the sounds of different animals in the vicinity.

The yard was not suitable to leave her in unattended and it is muddy and slippery. So with much coaxing and gentle words, I was finally able to get Saffron safely into a loose box.

We are just at the first night. After working her way around the walls with many bumps, Saffron seems to have settled. I have to feed and water her at regular intervals as she cannot find her feed and water buckets yet.

She has a new warmer rug on and Maisie the goat next door for company.

Tomorrow the vet will assess Saffron and we will get a better idea of what is behind her loss of sight and any other health issues.

My thoughts though keep going back to how terrified Saffron must have been stumbling around at the edges of the highway with cars and trucks roaring past, how she must have wondered where her paddock mate was to help her, no water. And I also think of  that simple and unequivocal act of compassion by the Good Samaritan driven by the thought…

‘If she were mine I would want her to be safe……..’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UPDATE: The vet has examined Saffron and she is totally blind. The blindness appears to be the result of past eye issues that have not been treated. She is not in pain but at present is disoriented in her new home. Unprecedented for us, we have put out an appeal to assist us with providing a safe paddock for Saffron.

Sophie’s Choice

 ….. Sophie reveals her deepest, darkest secret: on the night that she arrived at Auschwitz, a sadistic doctor made her choose which of her two children would die immediately by gassing and which would continue to live, albeit in the camp. Of her two children, Sophie chose to sacrifice her seven-year-old daughter, Eva’’s_Choice_(novel)

Any person involved in rescue has to make choices.

So often it is said, ‘But you cannot save them all’ (with the sub-text ‘So why save any?’). No we cannot save them all, we cannot change all lives, but if we can change the life of one animal that is something.

One quote that I love is:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.  Helen Keller

Rescuing Sophie was a matter of chance, a matter of choice, and like the novel Sophie’s Choice, the journey has been a dark journey of betrayal and cruelty.

I first ‘met’ Sophie as post on a Facebook page dedicated to rescue. Every two weeks photographs of horses in the saleyards on the night prior to the auction, would be posted, to encourage attendance at the sales and for appropriate people to bid and secure the future of as many of the animals as possible.

Sophie Echuca May 2012

At the saleyards. ‘Laura Jane’ the Wednesday after failing to win at Geelong on the Friday.

To understand the reality of saleyards here is a film by a rescuer of horses.

The truth abut saleyards

The night following the sales was always a mix of joy, finding out who had been saved, and depression at those purchased by the ‘meat men’, to be driven onto trucks and sent to a knackery, for slaughter.

The question was asked, ‘What happened to the chestnut mare?’….and the answer was one we all hated…’She was bought by the knackery’

Rescuers know the meat men and it was established that Laura Jane had been bought by a Melbourne knackery.

This same knackery was the subject of an undercover investigation.

Beware footage here is very confronting.

Natures Child

The story of Nature’s Child

and also see

In man we trust

In man we trust

After a number of rapid telephone calls, a rescuer offered to take Laura Jane, with some financial assistance for the purchase price.

We made contact with the knackery and secured Laura Jane.

She still had to make the journey to Melbourne and had to stay at the knackery until she could be collected.

On the Sunday she was collected from the knackery. As she was being taken from the yards a  grey mare tried to follow….see

Here is how Laura Jane looked now just nine days after her last race. Transported from Geelong to Echuca, at the saleyards, trucked from Echuca to Melbourne and kept in the yards.

Sophie, kicked and bitten

Laura Jane, kicked and bitten

Laura Jane was given a new name and went off to be rehabilitated and to be trained as a riding horse, with the contractual requirement  she would be rehomed under a contract to protect her future.

The months passed and there were positive updates regarding her overall nature and progress.

Then it became apparent, through the rescue network, that there was a problem.  The full story is confidential, but Honey’s Pledge became aware that Laura Jane was at a property known for issues in regard to animal welfare.

Fortunately we were able to arrange immediately to collect Laura Jane.

We found a listless horse, looking aged for her years, covered in bites and kicks, with pressure sores, and a low body score. Even her manure showed that she had been eating dirt to ‘survive’.

She was taken  direct to our vet practice and left  as an inpatient to make sure she had the best care while she was fully checked, restarted on food and water and treated for parasites. This is a critical stage with rescue as horses can go downhill rapidly with colic. We also changed her name as a symbol of a new future to Sophie, meaning ‘wisdom’.

Sophie at vet

Sophie then came back to Honey’s Pledge to gain condition. She settled in well and over time her bites and kicks healed, and after two months her pressure sores resolved.

Sophie 1.4.13 (2)

Sophie has one fear, being without food. This leads her to be aggressive at ‘defending’ her food, and unfortunately she caught her hind fetlock in a loose strand of wire. The injury  was severe, cutting to the joint.

Our wonderful vet’s attended and with their care and some prolonged nursing Sophie’s leg is healing. The damage means Sophie can never be ridden and will have a possible weakness in the fetlock joint.

It does not appear to slow her down as she prances with paddock mate Ruth, her ‘twin’.

Every day I look out of my window and see these two together, both ‘wastage’ from the racing industry. Sophie could so easily have been Nature’s Child if fate had not intervened.  I rejoice in watching their life now free of fear, with plentiful food, water, shelter, companionship.

The next stage is now underway. A wonderful family wants to adopt Sophie as a companion. They are happy to care for her in exchange for love, nothing more, nothing less.

In order to rescue, it is essential that there are new safe homes out there, to make room for the next ‘choice’.

No we cannot save them all, but with your help we can save more.

In memory of *Henry

For Honey trust

We first heard of Henry  on a post on a Facebook group; With an old injury, untreated and left, his owner had decided that she would sell him through the sale yards. A fellow agistee was horrified at the thought of this lovely pony, crippled through no fault of his own, being sold through the sales, and more than likely being herded onto a truck and sent to the knackery.

She appealed for someone to purchase the gelding direct from the owner to save him from this fate. We were at capacity at the time but called and advised that, failing all else, we would pay the asking price, and then work out a solution.

Another person put up their hand and it was arranged that Henry would be floated to the saleyards the following day to be sold direct to his new carer. There were concerns raised re his physical condition but it was decided to give him a go and he went to his new home. A number of people , including Honey’s Pledge, donated towards the purchase price.

There were updates on Henry, how, with chiropractic treatment , he could again be ridden, and this was shown by photographs. What was concerning though was that it did not appear that he had actually received a diagnosis by a vet, including tests such as x rays.

Time passed and there were no updates on Henry. It then became known that he had deteriorated and the current owner  was considering having him euthanized.  It was agreed that he could be collected and transported to enable assessment by a specialist vet and so I made the journey to float him to our place.

Sometimes you can have a connection with an animal you have never met…and Henry was one of these. I was so thrilled to meet him. He travelled well on the float trip, and eagerly trotted down the drive to his new paddock.

Here, predictably, Shiloh, our smallest pony, arrived to meet him. We call Shiloh ‘Miss Meet and Greet, as she always crosses the property, ignoring fences, to meet a new horse.

Henry settled quickly. I found him a rug for the cool nights and started him on twice a day supplementary feeds and some herbs. He was also on pain relief as the float trip would have put additional strain on his body.

It was soon clear there was something seriously wrong with Henry. He was unable to lie down, unable to roll, and would often shift his weight continually. We had a sudden heat wave and so a trip to the vets was postponed until the weather had cooled. We made the most of this week with lots of food and hugs.

After one week we made the trip to our equine vets. This is a specialist practice with state of the art facilities.

I unloaded Henry and the vet made her initial examination. All immediately loved Henry and his soft eye.

The first step was x rays. These were done while I waited outside.

The vet viewed the images and then asked me to go to the office. I knew then what I was about to be told.

She showed me the x rays. Henry’s joints were fused with overgrowths of bone. Their advice was that there was no alternative but to euthanize.

In tears I agreed.  Henry was given strong pain relief, and I took him home. We arranged that I would give him  pain relief for a few days and then call the vet.

I was hoping for a week, but within three days it was clear the call needed to be made. The vet arranged to come in the afternoon. I spent the day grooming Henry, feeding him treats and just sitting quietly with him under his favourite tree.

When the vet arrived we stood together for a final few minutes. Henry was given a sedative and then the IV barbiturate. His going was gentle and swift.

In line with our practice I left Henry resting where he had fallen so the other horses could see him and say their own farewells.

Two days later the excavator arrived and we buried Henry under ‘his’ tree. We laid flowers and sang a blessing.

The vet later confirmed that his was the worst case of joint fusion the practice has ever seen. A horse in his condition should have had diagnosis by a vet before any other treatment was commenced and should never, ever, ever have been ridden.

Farewell our lovely man. It was a privilege to meet you, and an honour to send you on your final journey.

* Henry is not the name this horse was known by.