It is members of the public who usually notify Project Hope Horse Welfare Victoria (PHHWV) about a horse or pony they are concerned about. There can be many reasons including:
We record the details in confidence and provide a case number to the person who notifies us. A Horse Report Coordinator will support a local Project Hope volunteer Representative to visit the property.
We do our best to visit the horse or pony within seven days of being notified, sooner if urgent. We try to talk to the owner of the horse or pony.
Where the horse's condition may possibly constitute neglect under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA), or where legal powers may be needed (e.g. to gain entry to a property or locate an owner), we'll then work with either:
A PHHWV Representative assesses the individual horse or pony. We may offer advice on care and feeding, on feet care or other regular care. Some owners know little or have outdated information on horse care, and may choose to listen and act on advice. We can talk through euthanasia with an owner should the horse or pony no longer be able to lead a happy healthy life.
If we and they feel the owner cannot adequately meet the horse's needs, we may suggest surrender of the horse or pony to PHHWV. If we cannot locate the owner, a note is left asking them to make contact – providing the horse is not suffering unduly. If the horse or pony is suffering or the owner does not make contact, RSPCA Victoria is called.
We may have further contact if the owner needs our support, or where we believe the right steps are not being taken to meet the horse or pony’s needs.
PHHWV has no legal power to seize a horse, the surrender depends on the owner agreeing to this. PHHWV may help with feed, rugs or veterinary care until a good solution is reached.
We receive calls for help from horse owners across Victoria and we're happy to assist. We have access to an extensive range of horse health, wellbeing and training experts through our years of rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming horses.
Horse owners make contact for a number of reasons, including:
Project Hope can also be contacted by owners who don’t know what to do with their horse in extremely difficult situations, circumstances change or they just can't handle their horses. Often we can help in working out where and how a solution or another home may be found.
We also help with support and information where owners have to consider euthanasia for their horse. Farewelling Your Horse can assist.
The rehabilitation of a horse or pony can be the most rewarding and occasionally the most heartbreaking experience for PHHWV members. They rehabilitate rescue horses on their own properties
Surrendered horses are assessed and rehabilitated largely at the property of the Project Hope member who has volunteered to care for them - called short term care. When the horse has recovered and been assessed, we seek to find them a semi/permanent home under a long term lease.
Some Project Hope members develop, or further develop, skills in caring for a neglected horse or pony. This is achieved with assistance and support from other PHHWV members and the committee.
Initial care varies from case to case, and in the first few weeks, a horse is monitored closely. They are likely to need feeding at least twice a day – sometimes more. They will be seen by a farrier and a dentist, and if needed a vet.
Groundwork is conducted to assess how much handling a horse or pony has had. We then build on their ground education. If they seem to have a future as a ridden horse, a riding assessment or education for riding is sought.
Short Term Care varies from six weeks to six months, and it can be longer depending on the horse. Project Hope supports the rehabilitation and provides financial support to cover expenses such as veterinary care, training, farrier, vaccinations, feed etc.
Carers provide regular feedback.
Learn more about caring for a horse/pony.
Education is a powerful tool to prevent neglect or abuse of horses. PHHWV provides education about horse welfare, horse care, and what is neglect and abuse:
Learn more at Education and Health. You'll find practical advice about aged horses, body scoring and more.
Please contact us if you would like an experienced PHHWV member to talk with your club, industry group, training college, school or riding group.
PHHWV work primarily in Victoria, but we can provide advice Australia-wide. Get in touch, we are here to help.
The following links and downloads may be useful to those interested in equine welfare.