Welcome to the webpage of Calan Horse Sanctuary.

Friends of Calan Horse SanctuaryIn operation since 2005, the sanctuary is based in Highbury two hours southeast of Perth, Western Australia. The equine residents are a mixture of rescued, retired and unwanted animals.


In all aspects of equine care, whether rescued or retired, CALAN HORSE SANCTUARY subscribes and follows the wonderful approach of Carlos Tabernaberri at  www.whisperingacres.com.au

Our challenge has been to alter their flat dull eyes due to neglect and mistreatment, to eyes that resemble the one in the photograph above and to give the horse the quality of life it deserves. We endeavor to carry out without favour the following.


Upon regaining the brightness and softness in their eyes, we do our utmost to maintain their recovery.


On the 4th of January 2017 Alan Gent was a guest on the popular 'Talking Horses' programme on Sport FM - Click here to listen to the programme podcast.




As I commence to type this Tribute to Cobber I am not embarrassed to say my eyes are filled with emotion.  It has been a tough few years, now having lost yet another of our beautiful equine friends.

On the 18/5/2013 two ex-gallopers, Cobber and Digger, excitedly exited the horse float and commenced living lives that graced this property.  A very enjoyable experience for CHS as they joined the mob who found their final home here. They had a close bond when we first met them and it was clear we had to keep them together.

On many occasions, these two mates would gallop at lightning speed putting hooves to ground over every bit of grass and earth of this 100-acre property.

From the beginning, I noticed Cobber had a slightly jerky action as he ran but as this remained right through the three-plus years he was with us, we reached the conclusion that he simply had a different gait movement.   But alas, about two and a half months ago we became aware that this lovely fella was moving with a much different action and as time went by (see photo) it became more of a concern to him and us.

We sought and received veterinary advice, asked experienced horse folk to check him and pass on their opinions, and he received injections, pain relief, and a donated special herb was given, but all to no avail. The problems were insurmountable and grave.  

On the 7/5/2017 it became evident to me that dear Cobber’s end was drawing close.  I kept a watchful eye on him and by 1:00 PM of the day, he could not turn and move to the right and forward, and with much effort, he could only slowly edge himself to the left. 

What I have found so heartbreaking and infinitely sad is the moment all compassionate and caring horse stewards dread more than anything else in the world- having gained the trust of an innocent animal and then having to end its life by your own hands.  I approached Cobber with my rifle and connected his right ear to his left eye and visa versa with a mark, all items he had never seen before, yet he continued to place his trust in me.  Then, I had to pull the trigger. This lovely, 510-kilo living creature, crashed to the ground and those once lovely brown liquid eyes gazed at me no more.  I was torn apart and I will never ever be the same, nor will I ever forget him.  He gave all of us so much joy and now when we spend time with his close companion Digger, the spirit of Cobber will be with us just like the spirits of Topaz, Lawson, and Koda.  Maybe the sight of whirling dust and clouds of dirt and the sound of thundering hoofbeats is you and the boys letting us know you’re alright.

I have read much about the Rainbow Bridge (http://hoofbeats-in-heaven.com/praise/M-Z/The_Rainbow_Bridge_For_Horses/ ) and I am not sure whether I believe it. But the hope and promise contained in this promise that he is somewhere free I will dwell on to help me grieve and continue to care and protect living creatures whenever the opportunity is before me.


Alan Gent, Calan Horse Sanctuary


To what do we owe our equine companions? For us at Calan Horse Sanctuary, we say ‘Everything’. Even, and especially in, old age and after having served the harsh demands placed on them by humans. We as caretakers of equines in their twilight years - many formerly neglected and/or abandoned, have laid to rest our dear friend, 28-year-old, Australian stock horse, Lawson - a deeply soft soul inside who it is believed to have been demanded and driven throughout his life to perform in camp draft before being abandoned to a paddock for two years. 


As we had a duty of care to ease his suffering after he was found in a painful bout of colic that could not be reversed by our joint efforts, the vet assessed and advised we help free him from this life and on to the next.  Thus, we did and in his eyes, one could tell Lawson was relieved.


Understandably, it was a slow process for Lawson to trust when he arrived at CHS, 6 years, 2 months and 4 days before his passing on March 13, 2017. 


The years of these harsh demands took a major toll on old Lawson’s teeth, feet, and general well-being. He was discovered when Alan was assisting a person in the care of another horse and noticed how Lawson kept approaching from the other side of the fence. He had a dreadful sore in the shape of a mini-volcano erupting with flies as if ants from a nest, near his tail.  Thankfully, a local horsewoman kindly helped remedy Lawson’s physical situation.  He eventually came into our care at CHS and even with love, mulching his hay, trimming hooves and dental work, he struggled.


Whilst here, however, Lawson found refuge in becoming part of the Old Guard and befriended our copper-coat mate, the five-star General and senior equine known as Topaz.  Even as old fellas, you could see the bond they had was true and deep, few words spoken yet always shoulder to shoulder, nearly touching when together and perhaps pondering how to best keep the troops in line.  Age and their physical condition did not diminish the respect given them by the other horses. They experienced the later years of life on their terms and when trust in a human was earned, you knew you had proven worthy of it.


Old Lawson never got over the death of Topaz in 2015.  And, for 9 months, we would watch him stand over Topaz’s grave, motionless and grieving. 
Some would say perhaps Lawson had known or had enough and was choosing to join his old friend. Horse herd members experience loss and sadness much the same as what has been observed and noted in elephant’s social structures.  Whatever the case may be, we know in our hearts and minds that we gave each other much satisfaction. His loss reaffirms our commitment to do all that we can to help animals that are forever at our mercy.  For that, we salute and honor you, Lawson, for all that you’ve endured in keeping humanity honest.


Rest in Peace our longtime friend.
Alan Gent, Calan Horse Sanctuary
Western Australia



It is with a heart full of sadness that we share that one of our newest rescues, Kokoda (Koda) was found lying dead in the paddock last week. The shock to us has hit hard given that he was one of those horses who through no fault of his own, had been relegated to a life as a 'lawnmower' and then destined to 'the meat factory' out of increased disinterest as his former human keeper's relationship fell apart.

Kokoda's nature showed he was a kind and beautiful soul- all you would want in a horse and he was willing to give himself 100% even after everything that was done to him.


Found shivering in his paddock in the rain and with harassment by dogs on a regular basis, a woman named Sue courageously negotiated and brought him to a safe and 'forever' home at Calan.


With older horses we are fully aware, both eyes open, that our elder equines have limited time on earth and we celebrate time with them in moments.


But Koda's passing remains a mystery- he was only around 17 years old. Could it have been a snakebite, brain aneurysm or heart attack? Who knows for sure. We only hope that he didn't suffer and that at least he ended his life as a true resident, a bonafide member of the herd at CHS, and that he knew he was worth more than '62 starts and 10 wins', and was valued and loved as an individual. Rest in Peace Koda.

Rest in peace our new found friend.

Alan Gent, Calan Horse Sanctuary
Western Australia


On the 26th February 2015 Calan Horse Sanctuary was faced with the situation we always knew would one day eventuate. Sadly, that day came.


Our much loved 27 year-old Topaz, had been struggling for sometime; our Vet informed us that his kidneys were shutting down and in- spite of our every effort to boost his diet and give his body every chance, all was to no avail. We found him down on the morning of the 26th in pain. The Vet was two hours away, so as the founder of the Sanctuary, I had the duty of care to step-up and help him leave us as peacefully as possible. With my son and two of my loyal helpers, we then respectfully laid him at rest.


For five years I had the privilege and pleasure of caring for my 27-year-old equine friend. With his coppery colored hair and the thinning yet dignified stature of an old soldier who had been through the wars, Topaz was the top brass amongst the herd at Calan Horse Sanctuary in Western Australia.   In his presence, both horse and human gave him the respect befitting his age and position.  I had heard in his ‘hey day’ he had been outstanding under the saddle with a number of successes as a competition horse, yet he seemed to have drawn the short straw during the majority of his life.  Although his last owner never mistreated him, information has trickled through to that Topaz had a real tough life, and the comments to me when they knew I was caring for him at CHS were “Is he still alive?” We found to our dismay that he had arrived with eleven loose teeth. Thanks to skilful dentistry and daily mulching of his hay Topaz was eventually able to eat in a reasonable manner.


With much love and caring, old Topaz’s health and spirits lifted.  He gracefully took his place as the Patriarch, protected by several middle-aged herd members. Visitors gravitated toward and felt empathy for him because of the toll time had taken on his body and soul. The amazing thing however is the past had never affected his lovely heart.  He never bit, kicked or caused damage. When approaching him with his rug he always stopped and quietly waited for it to be fitted and it was possible for us to trim his hooves with no halter and lead rope. Unlike some of our equine family, he had no qualms in sharing his water trough and when a new horse joined us at C.H.S., Topaz was always the first to befriend the new arrival and would stay close until they acclimatized to their new surroundings. He was soft and gentle we loved him and went out of our way to make his twilight years enjoyable. We renamed him Topaz, because he was a real gem. Still, I question whether I have done ‘enough’?
As the first sliver of golden orange sun rises over the gums breaking the silence of night, when a rainbow appears after a storm, as the Winter wind appears as a whinnie or thundering hoofbeats, I continue to feel his presence.  Maybe it’s a shadow on the horizon, a flick of a tail just beyond the sheds, a brush of soft muzzle against my cheek, it would never be enough.  It is what makes the bond between Topaz and I so special and irreplaceable. 

We are behoved to say, ‘If humans had given Topaz the same respect he showed, he might still be out there grazing with his ‘friends’.  


Rest in peace our gentle friend.

Alan Gent, Calan Horse Sanctuary
Western Australia




Calan Horse Sanctuary

The horse feed in the above photograph was donated by two generous persons, this type of donation lessens the pressure that horse owners experience and we say "Thank you, we really appreciate your help".  September 2013


Calan Horse Sanctuary

1.   First and foremost the horse should feel safe and secure every day.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

2.   To be able to graze freely and enjoy a balanced, formulated natural food product, collated to each individual horse. Upon eating this supplied food the horse is not affected in any way by the pecking order, it eats and digests it's food in a quiet and peaceful manner.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

3.   A constant supply of fresh drinking water.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

4.   The availability of shelter from the elements, either built structure or trees.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

5.   To enjoy the freedom of bare hooves with regular trimming to correct toe and heel lengths.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

6.   Dental work every twelve months, six monthly if required to repair inherited long standing damage.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

7.   Regular exercise in accordance to health, age and ability of the horse.


Calan Horse Sanctuary

8.   To be wormed on a regular basis according to the seasons.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

9.   Horses to be rugged during the cold and wet seasons, especially for those who are old or sick.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

10.  Fly veils worn at all times during the fly season.


Calan Horse Sanctuary

11.  Regular checks for injuries during the daily grooming which is given in love, care and respect.

Calan Horse Sanctuary

12.  To restore and aid the self esteem of these damaged horses, removal of all manure from pens and stable yards to be done daily.


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Calan Horse Sanctuary