Bushfire refuge for horses to be built in Murray Bridge
Horse SA has won $726,000 worth of federal funding for a much-needed project near the city’s racecourse.
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A one-of-a-kind bushfire refuge for horses will be established in Murray Bridge, providing a much-needed sanctuary the next time disaster strikes.
Non-profit association Horse SA was awarded $726,000 worth of federal funding for the project last week.
An area of 30 to 40 acres will be set aside at Gifford Hill, alongside Murray Bridge Racing Club, for 100 horse yards and all the associated facilities visiting horses and their owners might need.
About 20 of the yards will be undercover and 20 will be specifically set aside for stallions.
Horse SA is also developing an app which will allow horses to be identified more easily during an emergency, listing their names, descriptions and their owners’ contact details.
Executive officer Janeth Flowers said it had become clear during the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 that horse owners needed to know they could take their animals somewhere suitable if they needed to evacuate.
“Horses are a big animal, and when they panic it’s chaos,” she said.
“You can’t just let 20 horses go.”
Murray Bridge had made sense as an evacuation point, she said – there was plenty of space, and none of the rolling scrub or forest typical of the Adelaide Hills.
She hoped the equine evacuation centre could serve as an example for the rest of South Australia and the nation.
Racing club chairman John Leahy said he was excited that his organisation would be able to help, particularly given how many trainers and other horse lovers were based nearby.
“Equine welfare is always paramount to us,” he said.
“Most people in horse racing love horses first and foremost.
“It will be a really good facility.”
Funding for the project will come from the federal Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program.