First horse ambulance ready for Cup week
The New Zealand Horse Ambulance Trust is thrilled to announce that the first horse ambulance will be in use this weekend.
The ambulance has been assigned to the Canterbury region and will commence operations through all the equine meetings during Cup Week, initially at the Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas meeting at Riccarton Park on Saturday and then the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup meeting the following Tuesday.
The New Zealand Horse Ambulance Trust is a collaboration between New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association, the Racing Integrity Unit, NZ Thoroughbred Racing and Harness Racing New Zealand.
It was formed with the objective of funding, procuring, maintaining and ensuring the operation of a fleet of equine ambulances that will contribute to the health and welfare of horses across New Zealand.
The initial fleet will comprise five ambulances.
The Canterbury region ambulance was funded by a generous donation by well-known racing identities Kevin and Jo Hickman, through Valachi Racing.
The horse ambulances feature the latest technology in equine first aid tools and capability, and are constructed in Dunedin by TL MacLean, with design and construction guided closely by Dr Peter Gillespie.
The ambulances include a full hydraulic suspension system, which allows the ambulance to be completely lowered to the ground, full limb supports and stow away crush which allows minimal distress upon loading and transportation.
“It’s wonderful that we can have these ambulances made locally, not only for the local economy but also the fact that they are costing close to half the price to be made here, rather than having them built offshore,” Gillespie said. “We can be involved in the process each step of the way and speak to the engineer about what will work best. It also means that they will be designed specifically for New Zealand conditions.”
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Dr Bill Bishop, generous donations from the following groups have been gratefully pledged: Racing Minister’s Safety Development Fund, New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association, Bendigo Valley Sports Trust, Salient Trust, Charlie Roberts, NZRB Animal Welfare Fund, Rodmor Trust, Kevin & Jo Hickman/Valachi Racing, NZ Bloodstock and Cambridge Equine Hospital.
New Zealand Horse Ambulance Trust Chair, Martin Burns, is excited to see the first of the ambulances in use, after so much planning and effort. “After a couple of years of planning, fundraising and design it will be great to see the first ambulances deployed this summer,” Burns said. “The ambulances will give injured horses the best possible chance of accessing the care need to recover from racing or training injuries.”
Each of the remaining four ambulances are expected to be built and delivered at approximately three-monthly intervals, meaning that all five ambulances will be operational by Spring 2019.