29 January 2024

Help Heavy Horse Heaven build on its success - and save animal and human lives

| Sally Hopman
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Woman with horse

Karen Hood from Heavy Horse Heaven is looking for a builder who can help with their Hitching Post project. Photo: Supplied.

Heavy Horse Heaven (HHH), the not-for-profit charity that rehabilitates and rehomes Clydesdale and other large horses, has finally saved enough money to set up a therapy centre for horses and humans – only problem is, they can’t find a licensed tradie to complete it.

The horse sanctuary, just outside Yass at Lade Vale, is already well known for how it takes in the large horses if they’re in need of care, but what is less known, according to its founder, Karen Hood, is the importance of how horses and humans can help each other heal.

To be called The Hitching Post, Karen said she wanted to make the bonding and healing relationship between humans and horses more permanent by establishing the equine therapy hub on the sanctuary’s 40-hectare site.

The Hitching Post will also be a hub for HHH volunteers, a visitors’ centre where community groups can learn about HHH – and get up close and personal with the gentle giants. It will also run equine therapy sessions for people with special needs and provide a creative space for artists.

Karen said most of the hard work for The Hitching Post had already been done so it was not a huge job for a builder.

“The building project itself is relatively minor and will involve refurbishing an existing stables complex and fitting it out with a toilet and kitchenette,” Karen said, “so the main work has already been done.

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“But finding a builder who is available to take on this small project has been challenging.”

She said a combination of COVID lockdowns and builder availability during the construction boom in the nearby Yass region had hindered this project getting off the ground.

“This, combined with the location of the farm, 25 km east of Yass, and the misconception that the project will be done at ‘charity rates’ has meant attracting a builder, getting the plans drawn and subsequent development approval submitted have stalled.”

Karen said although it was a not-for-profit, HHH had the funds to pay for the work. She said they were keen to get a local, licensed builder on board who could take the project from quote through to completion – ideally by next year.

“We hope, in time, the building of The Hitching Post will lead to the healing and life-changing relationships for even more humans and horses,” Karen said.

Although the sanctuary is only on 40 ha, Karen said “our wonderful neighbours have let us use some of their paddocks for the horses” – giving them an additional 57 ha.

Horse sniffing hand

Celebrating the bond between horse and human is one of the goals for the new Hitching Post at Heavy Horse Heaven. Photo: Supplied.

Although they usually cater for a maximum of 20-25 horses at a time, Karen said they were now looking after 31, with a likely seven more coming in later in the week, including mares and foals.

“Yes, it’s a lot, but they include an RSPCA rescue case so how could we refuse?”

Karen set up HHH in 2011, and, with her band of volunteers, they give their time to rehabilitate and rehome the horses. While many come in as clear neglect or abuse cases, others are surrendered because the owners can’t provide them with the care and love they need.

Karen believes The Hitching Post will provide an invaluable service for both animal and human and is keen to see it surface from the old stable site.

As a not-for-profit venture, all fees from The Hitching Post will be used by HHH to maintain the facility and to support the welfare of its animals.

Licensed builders in the Yass Valley or Upper Lachlan Shire regions who are interested in taking on the project, can contact Karen at HHH via email at [email protected] or the project coordinator Glen Braithwaite on 0405 272 454.

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