In operation since 2005, Calan Horse Sanctuary (CHS) was founded, starting with one horse named Rebel who came into Alan Gent's care with deformed teeth. Since that time CHS has become home to over 30+ horses in need (8 whom have since passed away) 4 sheep, 2 alpacas, 2 cats, and a dog named Kaylee who is forever at Alan's side. Based in Highbury, Western Australia, the sanctuary is 2+ hours southeast of Perth on a 100-acre property that offers many challenges to include limited vegetation and water during the dry, summer months and wind and rain in the winter.
We occassionally have a few volunteers who muck stalls and help with farrier care and have many supporters who have heard about Alan's heroic effort to save as many horses as he can, as long as he can and with the resources he has available.
Because rescue work is never-ending and ongoing support and help are limited, there are unfortunately many more requests to take in unwanted, neglected or last-chance horses than we have the ability to care for. The equine and other animal residents are 'lucky' to have landed at CHS by anyone's definition - mainly elderly horses and many over the age of 20+ years-old with special needs.
When it comes to 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 our logo 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. We see and value each horse as an 'individual' with their own set of strengths and limitations- physically and emotionally. Therefore we provide each with their own meal plan, supplements and veterinary, dental and farrier care as per needed. Mostly, it is Alan who is steward of all the animals 24/7 and who provides the ongoing and essential TLC.
As this is a unique and compassionate mission undertaken by a unique man in a remote region of Australia, Calan Horse Sanctuary and Mr Gent have been featured on ABC programs across radio, television and online. Here is a link to one of them by ABC reporter Rebecca Carmody:
Please refer to our FAQ page for more information on CHS
Photo: abc news australia
The sanctuary is primarily run and financed by Alan Gent and donations we receive through auspicing with the charitable organization, Bridging Communities, Inc. in Harvey, WA. Alan, who is 80+ year-old and had a career as builder/contractor in Western Australia.
Alan was raised in Como, South Perth, and always loved horses. However, due to family circumstances, owning a horse was an impossible dream for this young man, so he entertained his fantasy by filling scrapbooks with cut out images and photographs of equines of all shapes, sizes and breeds.
Alan attended high school in Northam and became a carpenter shortly after leaving school. He married Carol in 1962 and worked as a carpenter until he became a registered builder in 1981. Carol and Alan had 3 children and he built his own spectacular home in Mandurah (on the canal) and travelled down to his property in Highbury each holiday season. The land became his private getaway.
For a period of his life he was also involved in local politics however over time he built a shed, set up a bunk to sleep in and eventually he built an immaculate, comfortable ranch style home at the property in Highbury. His first equine acquisition appeared in the form of Rebel, a magnificent standard-bred, whom he adopted from a neighbour (for his grand-daughter). As horses are herd animals, it soon became clear to Alan that Rebel needed a companion, so he adopted Merc (racing name Mercury Pilot), an old chestnut thoroughbred in dire need of a loving home.
As he became more and more aware of the plight of horses that had passed their ‘use by’ date, Alan opened his heart, mind and property to provide a sanctioned space for horses in need. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, this gallant man came to the rescue. Alan unconditionally funds the majority of the horses care through his own retirement funds and pension.
The love that Alan has for these horses is evident everywhere on everything that his gentle hand has touched. His attention to detail is astounding. He has hand-built each horse their own yard, shelter, feed bin, water trough (filled with clean water daily) and furnished them with their own tack/grooming kit. Each yard has the occupant’s name upon the gate, lovingly engraved into wood by Alan himself.
Alan taught himself equine crafts and skills via the internet and from attending various workshops/clinics. Due to his devotion to Carlos Tabernaberri’s method of establishing a solid, equal relationship with the horse (based on trust, consistency, leadership and respect without the use of bits, spurs or force. https://whisperingacres.com) Alan’s horses have thrived, both physically and emotionally, under his care. A visit to Calan Sanctuary is like a trip to Mecca for horse enthusiasts and animal lovers alike, for the visionary and valiant efforts of one man have forged an unforgettable, life enhancing, gentle green belt in an otherwise arid and harsh landscape.
Alan Gent is living proof that one man can make a tremendous difference. In fact, he has not only made a difference to these horses but created an entirely unique and meditative experience for anyone blessed enough to tread this hallowed ground. ( credit: Jeannette Woolerton)
aka The Farm Manager
photo: abc news
Kaylee forever remains at Alan's side. She was the runt of the litter at another farm and what a beautiful, soft and loyal companion she has been to Alan- rain or shine she's always there to accompany him on feeding, rugging, watering the horses, alpacas and sheep. She lends an ear when needed and loves with her whole being. What would we do without you Kaylee?!! She earns her keep for sure.
MAE LEE SUN
Alan is assisted by Mae Lee Sun, an Australian/American who co-authored the book, Brumby: A celebration of Australia's wild horses, and founder of blog Wild Horse Journal. Mae Lee has worked on animal rights and welfare campaigns across the U.S., Japan, Taiwan and Australia including the international effort to expose the Disposable Dogs campaign in Taiwan. She lobbied the government in Taiwan with the late Princess de Croy of France and Joy Leney of WSPA U.K. to introduce spay/neuter programs, pass humane euthanasia laws for cats and dogs and humane treatment of farm animals. She also presented a white paper in Tokyo at a C.I.T.I.E.S. sponsored conference of the Asian Conservation Alliance on the use of alternatives to endangered species in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and specifically the farming of bears to extract bear bile. She coordinated efforts with Australian organizations to include Snowy Mt Bushriders Group, Save The Brumbies as well as Wild Horses Kimberley to sponsor wildlife ecologist/wild horse advocate, Craig Downer, on his research trip across Australia to present on the positive contributions of the brumby- the Australian wild horse-to the Australian ecosystem.
Mae Lee first met with Alan on an unrelated visit to Perth to attend Australian equine artist Roslyn Nolen's show featuring brumbies and happily discovered that a special place known as Calan Horse Sanctuary was just a few hours away. After reading that Alan was a fan of understanding horses through the eye of the horse and the gentle methods of Australian horseman, Carlos Tabernaberri, who had done training with Mae Lee's brumby, Trooper, she asked Alan if she could visit and of course after doing so she knew she had to support him and the horses.
Mae Lee spends her time between the high desert of the American Southwest and helping Alan and CHS in Australia. "Animals are members of my family- a value I learnt as a child from my two great aunts who throughout their lives donated to animal shelters. I'm so happy to see that this family value of caring for animals continues to manifest in my neice who has a dog and cat rescue. This is how we change the world and the lives of animals. They're not a motorbike you sell off or leave behind because you're done with it. How many horses have been left behind after serving their country in wars? Or after winning money in a race or sport? Thank God the science is out there to back what many of us have always known- that animals have emotions and consciousness. It's about time. We can no longer ignore this fact. Ignoring it is why Calan and other sanctuaries exist. I hope we don't one day. I hope humanity awakens."