Horse handlers rein in heft of West Hants’ wild herd

Ashley Thompson
Published on March 14, 2014

All but two of the wild horses that roamed free in West Hants in recent years have been relocated.

The herd of 14 horses became a cause for concern within the Municipality of West Hants when the untamed animals started wandering beyond the vast Fundy Gypsum lands they roamed for decades, and paying frequent visits to homes along the Wentworth Road and Cochrane Lane area.

Jackie Morash, a self-described horse lover from the Martock area, launched an online campaign via Facebook called “Save Nova Scotia’s Wild Horses” to garner support for a plan to relocate the wild horses to a secure pasture.

An online fundraiser launched through the social media site has brought in more than $3,000 for the costs of gelding the stallions and purchasing new fencing so far.

Morash visited the Hants Journal March 13 to report that a small group of experienced horse handlers managed to move all but two of the wild horses to secure locations to date.

“[We] had people assist that were qualified and competent enough that we didn’t have to worry about their safety,” she said, later noting that the horses were haltered, led out of the woods and loaded into a trailer.

The first horse was moved around the beginning of February.

The mares are contained to a piece of property owned by the man responsible for the herd, and about seven stallions are at a separate location for gelding.

“I’m happy that they’re going to be out of there and nobody — and no animals — were hurt,” said Morash.

It is estimated gelding will cost about $450 per horse if all goes well. Excess money collected through the online auction hosted to raise funds for the relocation efforts will be used for fencing, Morash stressed.

Morash says she has kept a detailed account of how the money donated for the relocation of the horses is spent.

The herd evolved from two horses that Ralph Morash, a Wentworth Road area resident in his mid-70s, took in 40 years ago. Due to a decline in his health, Ralph Morash is no longer able to maintain the fencing that once separated the herd from the public, or collect stray horses that make their way to neighbouring properties.

The affected homeowners fear the wild horses may physically harm someone if spooked, leave behind droppings that could make their pets sick or cause property damage.

Jackie Morash, no relation to Ralph Morash, says she started rounding up troops for the relocation of the horses to help a friend who has rescued many horses bound for the slaughterhouse in his day.

“Ralph’s a friend; you don’t just walk away from your friends,” she said.

She says she is proud of the progress that has been made to date, however, the big sigh of relief won’t come until all of the horses are “in the pasture.”

West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee will likely be happy to see the situation resolved, too.

He says the municipality received multiple complaints that the horses were a threat to public safety and a nuisance to landowners.

While the municipality was not directly involved in the relocation efforts, Dauphinee says they were aware of the citizen-led plan to move the herd.

“If it works out for the best, that’s good for us,” he said.

“We just gave them the time to do what they were going to do. Our only interest was public safety.”