EX-RACEHORSE Harry and his brother Sam are two horses fortunate enough to escape the "dogger's truck" and now live a happy life in a paddock at Tracey Schofield's home in Bexhill.
The horses found their new home with the help of East Coast Horse Rescue (ECHR), an organisation formed two years ago by a group of concerned locals who were appalled at the number of neglected and mistreated horses in the Northern Rivers region.
Over the past year, the organisation's volunteers have rescued 26 horses and are always looking for new homes for them.
Rachel (not her real name), one of the founders of the rescue service, is a horse lover who has four thoroughbred horses in her care.
"Lots of people sell elderly horses to the dogger's truck to become pet food, rather than keeping them in the family to live out their lives with respect," Rachel said.
"Many people think that once a horse is not rideable, it is not worth keeping."
Luckily for Harry and Sam, when their elderly owner surrendered them to ECHR late last year, Tracey offered to take them.
Now Rachel visits every day with horse feed and to make sure they are okay.
"It's good to know we are helping horses. They look so much better now than when they first arrived," Tracey said.
"My daughter Poppi has a new love of horses and helps Rachel feed, water and brush them and has been going for rides."
While there are many horse rescue groups in NSW, East Cost Horse Rescue is the only one in the North Coast area and Rachel said the problem of horse neglect here was "almost as bad as in India."
"People buy horses and when they realise how expensive they are to keep, the horses end up neglected or get old and left to look after themselves," Rachel said. "People are reluctant to call a vet or buy feed because of the significant costs."
Rachel said the group formed when a small group of volunteers discovered 25 horses in appalling condition in Rosebank.
"The owner had been seen to drag them behind a truck and tie electrical cord around their legs to stop blood flow. The neighbours were too scared to say anything and did nothing."
Now, if a member of the public contacts ECHR, the service will investigate the case and call in the police if they believe the horse has been mistreated or neglected.
If necessary, police will seize a neglected horse and ECHR will try to find a new home for it.
Rachel wants to see more stringent laws created to stop people who mistreat animals continuing the "cycle of abuse".
"If horses are removed by the RSPCA, there are no laws stopping the owner from breeding more from a stallion," Rachel said.
"The RSPCA is governed by these laws and is powerless in many cases. If you see a skinny horse in your neighbourhood without water or food you should act quickly."
Phone Rachel on 0418 754 009 or look for East Coast Horse Rescue Inc on Facebook.
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