By MICHELLE SLATER
A SOUTH Gippsland woman is on a mission to help give brumbies a second chance by finding them loving homes.
Mandy Hill was part of five brumby groups at Equitana encouraging people to consider adopting a brumby, fearing these wild horses face being culled in Victorian national parks.
Ms Hill established Melbourne Brumby Rehomers in Koo Wee Rup two years ago, taking on wild horses trapped and removed out of Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales.
In that time, she had managed to find homes for 180 brumbies, who were yarded and trucked to Victoria from the northern edge of Kosciuszko.
Ms Hill said she started re-homing brumbies after seeing an image being circulated on social media of a foal attempting to drink from the teats of its dead mother.
In Victoria, brumby numbers are being reduced out of the Alpine and Barmah national parks, including by capture, fencing off areas, rehoming and targeted ground-shooting by professionals.
“It’s either a domestic life for them or they face death. Hence we want the culling to stop, these are our heritage horses,” Ms Hill said.
“I agree with a management plan, but it’s not necessary to kill them when they can be rehomed or put in a sanctuary.”
Ms Hill said she used natural horsemanship methods to gain the wild animals’ trust, and then taught them to wear a halter, lead and load on the float.
She said it was important to carefully match each horse with a prospective owner to make sure the horse didn’t end up in the sales yards to another uncertain fate.
She said many brumbies had gone to find successful homes with kids, or as adult riding club mounts.
“They have beautiful temperaments, when they come to us they are a blank canvas, they are open, free souls,” Ms Hill said.
“They come in frightened as they don’t know what a human is, they are not crazy or dangerous.”
Parks Victoria stated it was obligated to control invasive species in Victoria’s national parks, including feral horses, which cause long-term and large-scale damage to native plants and animals.
But ParksVic does not release the details of these operations to protect the safety of its staff, contractors and the community.
“Parks Victoria is committed to working with the community in providing feral horses for rehoming where possible, in compliance with ethical standards for animal welfare,” a ParksVic spokesperson said.