26 April 2024

Hussar charges into rescuers' hearts and home

| John Thistleton
Start the conversation

Hussar grinning after one of his owners, Paul Kemp, set fire to rubbish in the backyard. Always curious, this clown of a horse never misses an opportunity for a laugh. Photo: Vanessa Kemp.

The sound of a horse grinding its teeth on your bedroom windowpane at 4 am is bound to get you out of bed.

It works every time on Vanessa Kemp – at 4 am, or midnight or 2 am. The result is the same. She goes outside to give her spoilt thoroughbred the attention he craves. He is far worse than any needy dog or other animal she has ever rescued.

“Any hour of the night, it doesn’t matter; he wants something to eat, he is doing it,” she said. “It sounds dreadful, like someone putting their fingernail down a blackboard.”

Vanessa and her brother Paul adopted their horse in 2017, after seeing it advertised for free on Fife’s Stockfeeds noticeboard in Goulburn. They made arrangements to bring the 17-hands-high bay gelding home to their property near Bungonia, and that’s when the fun started.

The former racehorse showed its colours immediately. “He had a nasty habit of charging me in the paddock,” Paul said. “You would hear the hooves and he would be coming down after you.”

READ ALSO How a poddy lamb became an unlikely teacher’s aid

So they named him Hussar, a name 15th century Hungarians gave their mounted cavalrymen who charged at their enemies. The name was subsequently widely adopted throughout Europe.

Paul learnt the only way to get Hussar out of his habit of charging was to confront him and yell at him. Eventually, he stopped.

Next problem was that horrible teeth grinding on Vanessa’s window. Paul put a heap of tyres in the garden bed outside her window so Hussar could not get too close. It didn’t work.

“One night I could hear this ‘bomph, bomph, bomph,’” Vanessa said. “He was throwing all the tyres out of the way so he could get to the window.”

Next they tried smearing Dencorub on the window, but Hussar casually lifted his head higher and ground away.

Paul and Vanessa Kemp selecting photos on their phone of their rescued racehorse Hussar

Paul and Vanessa Kemp selecting photos on their phone of their rescued racehorse Hussar, who cannot keep out of trouble. He once raided the rear of an open ambulance van that was about to take Vanessa to hospital. Photo: John Thistleton.

Born in 2014, Hussar arrived at his new home in 2017 and being a thoroughbred was still about four years from maturity. “We think he might have a bit of quarter horse in him,” Vanessa said. “When you look at him, he is solid; he is like a sumo, he has big muscles.”

Hussar is among many abandoned animals to have found his way into the care of the Kemps. “Our mum brought us up to love and respect all animals,” Vanessa said. “Mum was always rescuing something, even swallows or sparrows.”

READ ALSO Jacko, his formidable junkyard dogs and the little car that had crowds tickled pink

He has made friends with Eva, their American Doberman rescued by the Canberra RSPCA and Dan, a Bull Arab rescued from Goulburn’s animal shelter. The three orphans get together briefly, then it all ends in a spat. Either one of the dogs will nip the horse, or Hussar will nip them and they go their separate ways.

“Dan was diagnosed with cancer and the other day Paul was walking him and Hussar went up and put his head on him to comfort him,” Vanessa said.

Their previous horse Poppy, another re-homed thoroughbred, had raced at Flemington. Unlike Hussar, he was like an elegant old gentleman according to Vanessa. “I put plastic flowers on the old horse’s (Poppy) grave on his anniversary; he had been with me for years,” she said. As Paul and she were leaving for town, they saw Hussar had taken the flowers in his mouth for a play.

They realised their horse was a clown. He has the run of the place, is inquisitive and expects to get his own way. Paul had his head under the bonnet of his car one day and suddenly found Hussar’s head next to him. “When I closed the bonnet, he didn’t like that and with his hooves thumped the bumper bar,” Paul said.

After watching Paul repairing a motor mower and start it with a pull cord, Hussar walked up to one sitting in a trailer and tried pulling the chord.

After watching Paul repairing a motor mower and start it with a pull cord, Hussar walked up to one sitting in a trailer and tried pulling the chord. Photo: Vanessa Kemp.

Paul has taught him to back up when he gets too close, and to come when he is called with a loud hailer siren. He wants to be in everything. He tried pulling Paul from a ladder once while he was painting outside.

Hussar eats a horse muesli and lucerne, and oddly enough turns his nose up at apples or carrots, the usual treats for horses. In return he waits at the front gate for them knowing there’s no need to charge at his owners. They’re pushovers for a stray like him.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.