WINDSOR - The man behind West Hantsâ herd of wild horses is overwhelmed by the response a call for help issued on his behalf received.
© TC Media - The Hants Journal
Ralph Morash visited two of the horses that belong to the herd largely known as West Hantsâ wild horses March 18 to discover a pleasant surprise â a newborn foal.
Ralph Morash, a Wentworth Road resident in his mid-70s, says people he didnât even know stepped up to help him relocate a herd of 14 horses that roamed free along a vast piece of undeveloped land near the neighbouring Fundy Gypsum facility.
âI didnât believe there was those kind of people in the world,â said Morash.
âThere seems to be so many people to cause you trouble but not generally so many that would help as there has been.â
Morash, who is often spotted cruising along in a tractor with his canine sidekick, Sissy, says his heart sank when he learned the horses were at risk of being destroyed if the herd was not promptly moved to a piece of privately-owned property.
âI couldnât sleep nights,â he said.
In addition to the demands that the herd be relocated, Morash also had to deal with complaints that the horses were breaking past the fencing that once prevented them from wandering onto his neighboursâ properties.
He says the horses arenât dangerous, but representatives of the Municipality of West Hants received complaints that the loose horses were a nuisance and a threat to public safety.
Horse lovers offer help
Morash knew relocating the horses was a task too great for one man to tackle, but he had no idea so many people would volunteer to help when word spread of his dilemma.
A Facebook group called âSave Nova Scotiaâs Wild Horsesâ was started to rally support. Horse lovers from far and wide offered $5,000 in bids in an online auction launched to raise money for such costs as gelding the stallions and installing or repairing fencing.
The horses are not used to being handled by humans. Some will eat bread out of their ownerâs hand, and approach him for a few gentle pats, but theyâve never been used for riding.
âI bought them because they were good horses and I didnât like to see them go to the slaughterhouse,â he said, referring to the two horses the herd has evolved from in the last 40 years.
Morash says experienced horse handlers Collette and Sterling Gates were largely the brains behind relocating the herd, and John Swinamer helped haul the horses with a trailer.
âWe put a roll of hay in it and put the corralaround it and when they go in and eat the roll of hay all we do is close it,â he said, noting that the horses are used to him feeding them in the winter.
âThey get a little hungry when the snow is on the ground and you can kind of suck them in for something to eat.â
Twelve of the horses have already been moved, leaving the moving crew with two more mares to rein in.
âWeâve got them all moved but two and they were two of the mothers that were quite quiet but they didnât seem to want to load on the trailer,â said Morash.
âTheyâve never been out of there in their lives and they donât wanna leave.â
The plan is to keep the mares and stallions separate until the studs are gelded.
Morash says he will be able to breathe easy when all of his horses are home, in a place where no one has any desire to cause them harm.
âI would like to get the last two horses out of there, and get them gelded so everything is going fairly smooth.â
Morash says he will forever be grateful to the people who heard his story, and offered to help his horses in some way.
âI think theyâre soon going to be safe.â
Compassion comes with a price
Morashâs compassion for animals comes with a price. He works 365 days a year, morning through to night, producing hay, tending to cattle and feeding his horses.
âIâm going to look after them anyhow. Thatâs what I live for,â he said.
He admits he did not intend for the horses to multiply so often.
âIt really isnât all that easy to get a colt gelded after it gets some age on it and you havenât got the facilities to do it,â he said.
âAnd Iâm not a cowboy, so I canât rope them.â
Morash stopped in to visit a mare and stud he is keeping in a neighbourâs field the afternoon of March 18 to discover the pair, inseparable mates, had a little surprise for him.
âHeâs contented to be here with her and sheâs contented too, so thatâs what happened I guess,â he said, pointing to a âbabyâ he guessed to be four to five hours old.
He knows the newest addition to the herd is another mouth to feed, but says he canât help but feel excited to see the foal.
âThatâs just the kind of person I am,â he said, staring at the clumsy newborn with one of those ear-to-ear grins.
Morash says he will forever be grateful to everyone who made it possible for the horses to be moved this winter.
âThey saved the horsesâ lives.â