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About us, the facilities & staff

Organisational Overview

HHCU is the largest equine welfare organisation in South Africa. The organisation was established in 1991.

We get involved in any matters relating to equine welfare.

  • Re-homing horses and donkeys to suitable homes on a special adoption policy
  • Owner education and equine medical clinics in underprivileged areas
  • Investigating and resolving cruelty/neglect complaints
  • Hospitalizing horses and donkeys where owners cannot afford treatment

Average stats over a year :-

    • We assist about 9000 horses and donkeys.
    • Stable on average 1600 needy animals per year.
    • Carry out clinics in 7 provinces, as well as Lesotho
    • We educate the owner of every horse or donkey we assisted.
    • We teach horse owners how to shoe their horses correctly.
    • We hold workshops for hundreds of owners, teaching them how to better care for their working animals.
    • Dewormed over 7,000 rural equines per year, vaccinated over 800 equines.
    • We hold gelding and dental clinics in underprivileged areas
    • On average we care for 65 horses at our base on any given day


The Outreach Programme

The major focus of our activities is the concern of the working horses/donkeys from the township and rural life throughout South Africa. Animals are often poorly treated as a result of lack of education and poverty rather than deliberate neglect or abuse. The Unit sends trained inspectors into the townships and rural areas to educate owners and to provide them with support in the care of their animals, including help with harnessing, feeding, vaccinations and de-worming. The Unit also collects old and unwanted tack from the horse community and give this to under privileged owners to ensure humane use of their animals.

In cases of blatant abuse the inspectors will confiscate the horse and take legal action against the owner, if a positive result is possible. Unfortunately, the legal process is very slow and the Unit does not have the resources for extended legal action and does not have the facilities to house animals subject to legal action over extended periods of months and often, years.

South Africa has a large population of donkeys, some of which are used for work purposes and others are effectively feral and forced to forage in urban areas for any food they can find. The Unit has special programmes to care for these animals relying on the goodwill of the horse community and specific overseas charity organisations for funding in these cases.


The education of owners, drivers and children in townships and rural areas where we work is a vital part of our organisation’s operations. We regularly hold training workshops in all of the provinces in which we work, and teach skills that not only benefit the working horse and donkey, but also empower the owner.

We also give talks at schools to make our children aware of the welfare and basic care of the working animal.We assist Government Agricultural Departments with the training of their staff by giving lectures on equine welfare, teaching handling skills, and encourage trainee vets and Animal Health Technicians to become involved in our Outreach Clinics in their Provinces.

Inspections division

We also conduct regular inspections of facilities where horses are housed for sporting, recreational purposes and in security and Government facilities. We rely on the general public to report cases of alleged abuse for investigation. Confiscation and prosecution are employed against owners demonstrating a gross lack of care in the treatment of their horses


We provide a re-homing service for equines which owners no longer can afford or want. We locate and investigate suitable homes for these horses for where they are best suited. Where horses are not suitable for re-homing we attempt to place them with foster homes. All re-homed horses are monitored on a regular basis and they will be re-possessed if the home is deemed unsuitable.

The Highveld HCU became official in 1991.

Today the Highveld Horse Care Unit is a Section 21 Company in its own right, responsible for its own management, funding and operations, and is the largest equine welfare organisation in the Southern hemisphere.  We cover an enormous area in South Africa, and now not only carry out investigations into reported cruelty cases, but half of our organisation is dedicated to outreach clinics and owner education and upliftment in previously disadvantaged areas.

The National Thoroughbred Trust which initially managed and channelled funding to the Units, has evolved into the National Horse Trust, and is now an administrative and fundraising body.

We have the facility to stable 30 horses at the Unit. Very often we have more than this in custody, so horses may have to sleep out, or, in a few rare cases, share a stable!


Recently, through the generosity of sponsors and some hard work fundraising,  we have made many improvements to the farm.


Dr Dale Wheeler

Managing Director and Committee member of the Highveld Horse Care Unit.

Dale previously had been the Unit veterinarian for 2O years, during which time he had donated his professional expertise and services.  He is dedicated to the Unit, and much-loved and respected.

Stella du Toit

Stella has been with us for almost three years.  She is our admin manager and takes care of all of the important day to day stuff …. as well as a million other things!

One thing not many people know about Stella : she loves to paint and adores all animals.

Nadia Saunderson

Nadia is our Stable Manager at the Unit who is also a qualified Inspector.

One thing not many people know about Nadia : she is of Italian descent

Bobbie Niederberger

Has been with the Unit since January 2000, and is a qualified Inspector, carrying out the majority of the distant calls.  Bobbie heads up the Inspectorate.  She has testified in many court cases of cruelty and abuse, and won the case for the animals!  Bobbie has worked with horses for many years, starting her career with show ponies in England and then travelling extensively with Internatonal Showjumpers.

One thing not many people know about Bobbie: she worked as an international groom to top showjumpers in her early career with horses.

Ashley Ness

Ashley is one of our Inspectors.  She is a brilliant investigator, who has done a lot of work investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in the illegal slaughter of donkeys.

Ashley grew up with horses – in fact, as a child, she lived at the Unit when it was ‘Kingfisher Stables’ many moons ago! She has remained a competitive rider, and helps Nadia work and train the Unit horses as part of their rehoming assessment.

One thing not many people know about Ashley: She is a brilliant mimic, who often has us in stitches!

Solly Motingoe

Is our township Inspector, who started at the Unit early in 2005.

Solly was our very first qualified Inspector to work solely in the townships.   Having Solly at the Unit enabled us to finally tackle the problem of working horses, which had been our goal for many years. He works mostly in townships which are not covered by any other animal welfare organisation, and is out every day educating, issuing second-hand tack to owners and providing basic treatment to any horse or donkey needing his assistance.  Solly is an excellent negotiator, and works under very difficult circumstances at times.  He is patient, kind, and compassionate.

One thing not many people know about Solly: He started his career in animal welfare as a kennel cleaner at an SPCA.  Today, he is a valuable member of our team.


Ismail started working for us as a groom  he literally walked into the farm ten years ago and asked for a job.  He was a brilliant groom, and was soon promoted to  head groom.

Today, he is a valued member of our Township Team.  He has trained in farriery, harnessmaking, and basic medical and veterinary matters.  Although well over 6ft tall, Ismail is our little terrier  he never ever lets anyone off if he thinks a horse or donkey is being abused.  He is prepared to work at all hours to help an animal in need, and we value him.

One thing not many people know about Ismail :  he has a wonderfully dry sense of humour

Makhosini Trainee In Inspector

“Mac” has been working for us for almost two years.  We simply love him.  He has a background as a groom and work rider in horse racing.  He is also part of our Township Team, and he has a wonderful way with people  which is half of the job!  Mac has completed various courses to enable him to gain enough knowledge to work in the field of equine welfare.  He is our star.

One thing not many people know about Mac : he can fix just about anything!

Joseph Trainee Inspector

Joseph is training with us to become an Inspector and an Educator.  He is young, bright, and studious.  He will go far with us.

One thing not many people know about Joseph : he has a beautiful singing voice


Hope is our newest trainee.  He is also the ‘baby’ of the team !  He started at the Unit two years ago as an untrained groom.  We saw that he had a wonderful compassion for the horses and loved working with them.  He was always first to take ‘colic duty’, feeding orphans, assisting with injured and sick horses.  After a three month apprentice trial period in our Township Team, he is now undergoing training under the mentorship of Solly.

Johan Strydom


Qualified as an Inspector in 2007. He is our farm manager, transporter, computer fixer, plumber, electrician, hairdryer fixer et al !  Johan is pictured her with Odysseus, his beloved percheron.

One thing not many people know about Johann: he loves ‘Curly Wurlies’ the english toffee/chocolate that you cannot buy in South Africa – he once helped himself to Bev’s secret stash from England!  He also listens to Steve Hofmeyr, but hey, no-one is perfect….




Donate International

Caring for equines is a costly operation, as any horse owner knows! It costs us over a thousand ZA Rand a month to keep one horse at the Unit. It is not possible for us to keep horses on a permanent basis - we would love to be a retirement center - but we have to spend our precious funds where they are needed most, and that is to bring in needy cases, rehabilitate, and re- home!
We cannot do this without your donations.


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