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Horse care at the forefront for Project Hope

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Max Davies

WITH the welfare of both wild and domestic horses a concern for communities across the state, one group has been providing safety to the animals for the past 47 years.

Project Hope Horse Welfare Victoria, PHHWV, is a non-profit organisation that works to provide hope for horses through owner and rescuer education and advocacy, as well as rehabilitation of rescued horses.

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PHHWV was founded by Val Collingwood in 1976 in response to the number of neglected horses in the country, and served as a method to coordinate the rescue and rehabilitation of horses subjected to maltreatment or abuse.

The organisation is now estimated to have about 150 horses in its care, with a wide range of members taking effective ownership of the animals while they remain in the legal possession of PHHWV.

The Project Hope clinic provides an opportunity to learn about horse care techniques, as well as ways for owners to forge a connection with their animals. ​

Vice president Renee Neubauer, who has been involved with PHHWV for 23 years, said the organisation relied on its members to provide care for the horses rescued.

“Our members provide their properties, their skills and their knowledge to actually take in horses that have been reported to our organisation, which then go into what we call a short-term care program that identifies what their health issues are,” she said.

“There might be behavioural issues, they might be deemed a companion horse or a riding horse, they go through quite a rigorous plan.

“It’s all done to determine the best outcome for that particular horse, and from there they are put up for lease. The big difference with our organisation is that we do not sell our horses, they always remain property of Project Hope.”

Members of the organisation go through a thorough training program that teaches them how to safely rescue horses, identify any health issues, and care for them effectively once they have been cleared for lease.

The ‘boomerang policy’ employed by PHHWV means if a carer faces issues and can no longer care for the horse they have taken on, the horse can be returned to the organisation where it will be cared for before it can go to a new home.

“The community can ring in and report any concerns about a horse, and we’ll then assign one of our trained reps to go out to the property and have a discussion with the owner and we just try to work through a resolution with them,” Ms Neubauer said.

“Ultimately we would like to see that they take responsibility for their horses, but quite often they are just not really aware or don’t have the financial means to support a horse properly.”

PHHWV last month sponsored a clinic in conjunction with Shaw Horsemanship to educate riders, handlers and people interested in horses about appropriate care methods and building connections with horses through ethical teaching methods.

PHHWV has multiple events planned in the coming months, and new members are always welcome. For more information or to become a member, visit www.phhwv.org.au.

The organisation can also be contacted by calling 1300 881 606 or emailing info@phhwv.org.au.

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