Last week the NZ Horse Ambulance Trust unveiled their ninth ambulance and now their fleet is complete.
The latest ambulance will be in the second in service in the Auckland area, and complements the ambulances based in Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and Otago/Southland, now New Zealand can boast the world’s first dedicated national horse ambulance service.
At a small gathering to mark the event at Veterinary Associates property in Karaka NZ Horse Ambulance Trust trustees Mike Godber and Dr Peter Gillespie, outlined the journey the Trust had been on since 2016 when they were established.
An initiative originally of the New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association (NZEVA) to protect the wellbeing of horses competing at race meetings and equestrian events, to assist injured horses, and to promote animal welfare standards, a trust was formed with the objective of raising funds for a formation of a fleet.
The Trust a registered charity comprises members of the New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association, New Zealand Thoroughbred, Harness Racing New Zealand, the Racing Integrity Board and Equestrian Sports New Zealand. The first ambulance was commissioned in 2018.
The horse ambulance plays a vital role in equine welfare, giving horses that are injured on the racetrack or in training safe transport to specialist diagnostic assessment and treatment at local equine clinics. The Trust is also called upon by the SPCA and the police to pick up sick or mistreated horses and transport them for treatment.
It is no mean feat that in just over five years the Trust with the help of some pretty heavy hitting sponsors and a Givealittle page, has raised over $1.25 million and built nine ambulances complete with a towing vehicle and featuring state of the art equipment. They may look similar to a horse float on the outside but inside is a fully equipped equine emergency room.
Each ambulance features a hydraulic suspension system which allows the back ramp to be completely lowered to the ground to limit the stress of loading a horse for transportation to a vet clinic, especially if the horse is unable to walk up the ramp.
Since the first ambulance was commissioned in 2018 numerous horses at the races and equestrian events have utilised the service and, in many cases, it has meant the difference between being saved or euthanised.
“Having our fleet complete means, we have the capacity to ensure all race meetings and equestrian events in New Zealand have a horse ambulance in attendance. This is truly world-leading, as we are the only country that boasts a nationwide dedicated horse ambulance service, and puts equine welfare at the very heart of the industry,” says Martin Burns, Chair of the NZ Horse Ambulance Trust and General Manager of Welfare and Sustainability for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.
Thanks to the work of the Trust an ambulance is on track at every thoroughbred race meeting, all thoroughbred trials, and harness race meetings throughout the country. It is intended now with the ninth horse ambulance in operation, along with others in the fleet they will benefit equestrian sports including three-day eventing, show jumping and polo.
The ambulances were designed and custom-built in Mosgiel by T L McLean Limited.