Delivery of New Zealand’s Sixth Horse Ambulance on Track for Racing’s Re-start

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

By the end of 2020 Dr Gillespie expects that a horse ambulance will be able to attend every race meeting in New Zealand.
By the end of 2020 Dr Gillespie expects that a horse ambulance will be able to attend every race meeting in New Zealand.

Otago equine veterinarian, Dr Peter Gillespie, is proud to personally deliver the latest horse ambulance manufactured at TL MacLean’s Dunedin workshop to its new home base in Auckland.

Dr Gillespie and his colleague, Dr Bill Bishop came up with the idea of a national horse ambulance service eight years ago and Dr Gillespie acknowledges the hard work and determination of NZHAT Trust Chair Martin Burns to help make it happen.

The Trust has worked closely with NZ Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing NZ and the NZ Equine Veterinary Association to bring the vision to life.

By the end of 2020 Dr Gillespie expects that a horse ambulance will be able to attend every race meeting in New Zealand.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to personally deliver the sixth horse ambulance to Auckland.

“We’ve planned a few stops along the way to demonstrate its capabilities and to formally acknowledge the generous support of our sponsors,” said Dr Gillespie.

The majority of the cost of the sixth horse ambulance was funded by a significant grant from the NZ Community Trust.

Racing and equestrian sports are an important part of rural and urban communities in New Zealand, with many families and groups participating in or attending some form of equine related activity. The purpose-built horse ambulances promote and support the welfare of horses competing in events that bring the community together.

NZHAT Trust Chair Martin Burns, and General Manager of Racing and Equine Welfare for NZ Thoroughbred Racing, is grateful for the support the Trust has received to date.

Without significant grants from NZ Community Trust and One Foundation and the support of our National Equine Welfare Partners, the establishment of the horse ambulance fleet would simply not have happened,” said Mr Burns.

Dr Gillespie’s road trip North includes visits to Massey Equine Hospital, Southern Rangitikei Vets, and to Cambridge Equine Vets, who were early supporters of the initiative. Dr Gillespie will be joined by other Trustees at Cambridge on Wednesday 10 June where all three Northern ambulances will be showcased together, with recognition provided to those who have funded the fleet.

“The Trust sincerely appreciates the grant from NZ Community Trust for our latest ambulance, which will help to provide better outcomes for New Zealand’s racehorses and sport horses,” said Mr Burns.

The Trust is proud to acknowledge major sponsors Cambridge Stud, Kevin and Jo Hickman of Valachi Downs, New Zealand Bloodstock and the NZ Equine Veterinary Association, along with the generous support of the late Dr Charles Roberts, the Bendigo Valley Sports Trust, the Salient Trust and the Rodmor Trust.

The Cambridge Equine Hospital, Matamata Veterinary Services, Riccarton Stud, Auckland Vets, Vet Associates, Canterbury Equine Clinic and Otago Vet Clinic have also contributed significant funds to the NZ Horse Ambulance Trust.

About the NZ Horse Ambulance Trust

The Trust is a Charitable Trust which was formed in mid-2016 with the objective of funding a fleet of equine ambulances to help improve the health and welfare of horses across New Zealand.

The Trust comprises members of the New Zealand Equine Vet Association, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand, the Racing Integrity Unit and Equestrian Sports NZ.

The NZHAT aims to protect the wellbeing of horses competing at race meetings and equestrian events, to assist injured horses, and to promote animal welfare standards.

The ambulances have a full hydraulic suspension system, which means they can be dropped right to the ground and then raised again. This is important as it means when a horse is injured on the track it will put far less stress on the animal than having to walk up or down a ramp.

There are now six mobile units in operation, which are based in Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and Otago/Southland. As the rollout of the fleet progresses, the Trust seeks funding support for the addition of a further two ambulances, which will benefit other equestrian sports such as three-day eventing and show jumping.

The horse ambulances, designed and custom-built in Dunedin by TL MacLean Ltd, are a world class asset for New Zealand horse racing and equestrian sports, with equine welfare at the forefront of NZHAT’s purpose.