The Highveld Horse Care Unit is one of 3 Units in SA: the others are Eastern Cape Horse Care Unit ( EC HCU), a branch of HHCU, and Coastal HCU based in KZN . HHCU, Coastal HCU and EC HCU are independent Section 21 Companies, independently operated. All of the Units obtain their income by various fundraising ventures, appeals, sponsorships and operational charges. All three Units liaise with each other on operational matters, national problems, mutual support etc. None of the Units receive any government funding, but all three are supported to some extent by the horse racing authorities in their Province.
The Highveld HCU became official in 1991, when funding was obtained from the National Thoroughbred Trust. Until then, from 1982, equine work had been carried out by Bev Seabourne-Bauer who was the manager of the local SPCA.
Carthorses in the townships of Evaton, Sharpeville and Sebokeng were assisted with shoeing (the SANDF provided assistance), de-worming and owners were educated regarding harnessing and feeding. Hundreds of horses were inspected and assisted locally, and calls began to come in for assistance in outlying areas. Bushracing practices were investigated, and the plight of horses coming up from the Cape for slaughter was exposed. The SPCA could not burden the costs of these investigations, and Bev made a successful application to the National Thoroughbred Trust for financial assistance. The Unit was then moved to the old municipal pound just outside Sharpeville, but due to the political unrest, proved hopelessly unsuitable. Revenge attacks were made on the horses in custody, and after approx. a year of being based there, the Unit moved to the back of the SPCA, where small camps and shelters were constructed. Eventually the Unit grew too big for the property, and the Highveld Farm in Randvaal was obtained through the generosity of the racing industry. We have been on the farm for the last 17 years, and the property has been much improved upon.
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.
STABLES AT THE UNIT:
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.
We have four stable cats. Our motivation to the Committee to prove how necessary they were for rodent elimination has fallen a little flat: they will only eat top quality tinned meat, rarely get off the office desks, and don’t blink if a mouse strolls past!
She is a qualified Senior Animal Welfare Inspector, and started up the Unit in 1991.
She has worked with animals all her life, firstly as a zoo keeper, working her way up as a dolphin trainer in Europe and the Far East, and then as a Veterinary Nurse in Wales.
She has been involved in animal welfare since 1982.
One thing not many people know about Bev: she was an international dolphin trainer in the seventies
Bobbie also does the Unit accounts.
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
Nadia Saunderson, who is also a qualified Inspector, is a jack-of-all-trades! She is firstly our stable manager, and is also responsible for the re-homing and follow-up inspections for our horses. Nadia also assists with administration, inspections, and transporting horses.
Being the youngest, she also works and evaluates the horses which come into the Unit for re-homing.
One thing not many people know about Nadia: she is of Italian descent
Solly Motingue is our township Inspector, who started at the Unit early in 2005. His employment and travelling is sponsored by a Johannesburg businessman. Having Solly at the Unit has enabled us to finally tackle the problem of working horses, which has 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.
One thing not many people know about Solly: he has worked in animal welfare for the past 15 years.
He services our vehicles and computers, and still has to find the time to inspect and monitor all of the security horses.
Johan also transports the majority of horses to and from the Unit.
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….
Dr Wheeler is employed by the National Horse Racing Association. He is dedicated to the Unit, and a much-loved and respected member of our team.
Ashley Ness joined us in early 2008, and she is a qualified inspector. Ashley initially accompanied Bobbie on the majority of inspections, and carried out most of the ‘re-check’ inspections. Since she qualified, she has proven herself very capable in the field, handling some large difficult cases. She is also responsible for monitoring security horses, where she is doing a brilliant job!
Ashley has put a lot of work into investigating the illegal slaughter of horses and donkeys, which is a huge problem in South Africa.
Ashley has a great way with people, which is a very important part of the inspectors job.
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!