To whom it may concern
I have been working in equine (and other animal) welfare (in Victoria) for many years.
Recently, I embarked on a journey to Calan Sanctuary on the advice of a friend. My intention was to volunteer my assistance to the sanctuary, as Alan's work and impeccably high standards had been noticed by renowned trainer, Carlos Tabernaberri, among others.
On arriving at the sanctuary, I was extremely impressed at the quality of Alan's hands on care and fantastic facilities.
We spoke in length about all aspects of Equine Welfare, including healing modalities such as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
I run a small sanctuary for the 2009 Black Saturday Firestorm's orphaned horses and have a wealth of experience in equine biomechanics, post traumatic stress disorders and cognitive behavioural therapies.
Alan and Nathan were very receptive, warm and educated in all manners of equine welfare. The sanctuary is faultless.
Alan is a man of high intelligence, empathy, integrity, honesty and honour.
Both he and Nathan have a gift with making people feel at ease, comfortable, welcomed and valued.
These qualities clearly pass over onto the animals in their care as well. The atmosphere at Calan Horse Sanctuary is one of great peace, warmth, comfort and relaxation for the guests.
The animals are calm and healthy - in mind, body and spirit - and the hosts extremely generous.
I, personally, would trust both Alan and Nathan with my life. And that is not an exaggeration.
They are true humanitarians with hearts of gold and ethics intact.
I would recommend these honorary gentlemen for any work that involves care, gentle handling, patience, attention to detail, benevolence and compassion.
It has been far too long since my last visit and I hope to get back to that peaceful place again soon.
With deep respect
It happened about 3 years ago. It had been a long hot day of horse and cattle work. My every muscle and sinew ached, I was tired, hot and in need of a shower and then, just as I thought I could finally start my long drive home, another call came in. I had never heard of the man at the other end of the phone but he introduced himself as a Mr Alan Gent, owner of a horse sanctuary called Calan Horse Sanctuary and he needed the services of a vet.
With that my heart sank. The caller had sounded sympathetic enough but you see, I have been a veterinarian for more years than I care to admit and over the years I have learnt that in Australia “Horse Sanctuary” is usually synonymous with horse hoarders, lots of skinny, semi neglected underfed horses thrown in a paddock to fend for themselves with zero planning for the cost of feeding or infrastructure and worst of all the invariable absence of anything that even vaguely resembles horsemanship. In short: an animal welfare disaster.
As I drove along the seemingly endless, dusty road flanked by scrubby saltbush and little else by way of pasture on the way to my new client, my mood became increasingly somber at the prospect of what I was about to witness. Then finally a left turn and more dusty road and more scrubland and then finally I came to a gate at which point I became really annoyed with myself because I had obviously arrived at the wrong place. This was definitely no horse sanctuary as I knew them.
Instead it looked more like a well appointed horse stud or a high end equine agistment centre.
I found myself in front of a neat entrance admiring a generous, tidy, well fenced driveway leading towards row upon row of neatly fenced horse yards, each yard with a shelter and its own rainwater tank with neat lanes in between. Further behind that I could see several large paddocks with good pasture and contentedly grazing horses. Every fence was in good condition and the whole place looked cared for and well maintained.
On closer inspection I realised that the sign at the gate proclaimed that I apparently WAS at the right address so I proceeded slowly towards the second gate where I was welcomed by the lean weathered smiling face of a man who introduced himself as Alan Gent. The hand that reached in through the open car window to shake mine was the hand of a man who doesn’t shy away from hard physical labour.
Since that day I have got to know Alan quite well. Lean, wiry, honest, somewhat weatherbeaten from relentlessly working in the elements, ready smile, and a twinkle in his eye, Alan has built the sanctuary from scratch and he has done it brilliantly. He has built every piece of well appointed infrastructure himself and has done so to a highest standard. In addition he does every bit of the never ending job of maintenance himself with the help of his son. The incredible thing is that every bit of money which I would imagine was originally destined to provide for a comfortable retirement goes towards the running and maintenance of this superb establishment.
He doesn’t waste a cent but whatever he does, he does it well. Day in day out he monitors and cares for the horses in his charge with sensitivity mixed with equal doses of realism and every horse is catered for according to its individual needs and there always seems some time left over to give every horse a scratch or a rub and a word of encouragement.
As you might have guessed by now, I am extremely sceptical about horse sanctuaries and horse rescue groups, let alone suggest that people should donate money to them but the Calan Horse Sanctuary run by Alan Gent is the exception to my rule.
To anyone who would like to help this wonderful horse sanctuary by making a financial donation I can without reservation say that your money will be well spent on the needs of the many horses that are in Alan’s care. Alan’s management is meticulous and I can personally vouch for the fact that not a cent of any donated money will be wasted or spent on anything other than its intended use.
Dr Jules Vandenbergh BSc BVMS
Vandenbergh Veterinary Group P/L Collie, Boyup Brook, Darkan, Narrogin
Letter of reference for Alan Gent and Calan Horse Sanctuary
September 19, 2016
I have had the pleasure of knowing Alan, Carolyn and Nathan Gent since I first visited Calan Horse Sanctuary (CHS) at the beginning of 2015. What immediately drew me to them, and specifically Alan, was reading what he had posted on the CHS website about why and how the animals were cared for. He had made a specific reference to ‘Looking through the eyes of the horse’ - a phrase stated by another wonderful, non-violent horseman by the name of Carlos Tabernaberri. The fact that Alan knew of Mr Tabernaberri’s work -and followed it- convinced me without a doubt that it was worth the trip to visit CHS from Victoria. I’ve now visited CHS 3 times and have planned my 4th visit for January 2017.
Ever since Alan and I met we have shared our hopes and dreams for a world where people and animals are able to live free from fear and suffering and we share the belief the two together- humans and horses- had an almost magical ability to heal one another. Research the world over confirms the positive effect horses have on people from military veterans with PTSD to juvenile offenders to those with physical and mental disabilities.
I’ve shared many hours with the horses at the sanctuary and on Alan’s front porch and kitchen table getting to know him and his wonderful family. Alan and Carol are parents to three grown children although I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting their son Nathan as he lives on the premises.
As others have also witnessed first hand, what this wonderful family has created together far exceeds what the best of the best equine facilities has produced and I can truly say it is world class in every way. Not only are the facilities the best, the horses themselves are given top-notch care -the best I’ve ever seen or experienced as a horse and animal person myself. Rain, cold or shine, the horses, sheep, cats, dog and alpacas are looked after with an abundance of love as well as receive expert, consistent veterinary care in a very safe and compassionate manner.
Everything at CHS is done with such humility and grace too that it astounds me that people like this still exist in the world. Yet they do, which gives all of us HOPE who work with suffering animals and why so many people who know Alan and his family have given amazing testimonials on the CHS website and write letters and emails to thank Alan for taking up the work that irresponsible others have created. Most of all, I can say that Mr Alan Gent does everything 100% and from the heart and for these reasons I fully endorse him.
Mae Lee Sun
To Whom It May Concern,
I am very pleased to be asked to give a reference letter for Alan Gent and his son Nathan Gent. I have known them for a few months, but that is enough to recognize hard working, passionate, honest, trustworthy and diligent open hearted men.
“Calan Horse Sanctuary” is a unique place, from the very first moment of our arrival, my family and I fell in love with this beautiful, quiet and peaceful place.
My daughters who love horses first impression was that the sanctuary is in reality a well maintained horse stud, with clean and neat paddocks with individual shelters for every horse, supplied by its own water tank.
In my opinion Alan is a man of great passion, loving “all animals great and small” and horses have a special place in his heart. We were welcomed by alpacas, dog, cats, sheep and Alan and Nathan with a smile, they then with much patience answered all our questions (you can believe me, many, many questions), telling us about every horse and their individual journeys through sometimes difficult horses life. I felt sad leaving that beautiful place, promising myself I will go there again as soon as possible. Driving back home I was thinking about Alan’s dedication to the place, places like this require 24/7 never ending maintenance and I was highly impressed knowing that, in reality, Alan is doing a job required by several men. I respect people with high work ethics and after getting to know Alan and Nathan better, I can whole heartedly say that I have got high respect for both of them and the work they are doing for those saved animals.
I think that anyone who would consider helping to keep “Calan Horse Sanctuary” a beautiful place as it is, will not regret that decision.
With warm regards,
Matthew, Betty, Matylda and MV Beiger