An equine haven

by Ann van Engelen

Jenny and Lindsay Heperi from Mini Ha Ha Horse Haven changed their lifestyle to specialise in rehabilitating laminitis and Cushing’s affected horses

“We care for all size horses including minis and small ponies.

“We established the haven after being asked to help some wee minis that needed care.

“We learnt about laminitis when we took in a rescue mare with a one-day-old foal, and it was a big learning curve. The owners didn’t realise that they need different care to big horses,” says Jen.Mini Ha Ha is a charitable trust, and Jenny Patterson from Calm Healthy Horses is Jen’s mentor.

“Caring for these horses has become our life, and Jenny supports us with her amazing nutritional products and knowledge. We have regular volunteers that come and interact with the animals and help us including a photographer and Mindy Duggan from Springston who gives us a lot of support behind the scenes.

“Some horses can hardly walk on arrival because laminitis is like walking on crushed glass. It is now a worldwide problem due to the climate changing, particularly in Canterbury with fast-growing rye and clover grass. These are high in potassium and sugars, as are some commercial and processed feeds.”

The lack of salt, minerals and vitamins, then add the overload of sugars and potassium can be contributing factors to laminitis attacks.

Mini Ha Ha Horse Haven has rehabilitated more than 60 horses with
laminitis in recent years

“If you don’t understand about high levels of potassium and sugars in a horse’s body, your horse could be possibly ticking away like a time bomb heading toward a  laminitis attack, which is one of the number one killer of horses worldwide.  

“Warning signs include a big thick, hard cresty neck and fat lumpy deposits on their body, reluctance to move or are footy on hard surfaces and a racing digital pulse. We have rehabilitated more than 60 laminitics in the past five years and lost count of rescues. From arrival from hardly being able to walk it can take four days to see a slight improvement. Chronically affected horses can take up to five weeks to become comfortable — others can show signs of improvement within a week depending on the stage of laminitis attack that we take them in.

“We couldn’t achieve what we do without our amazing supporters. Part of the rehab is movement, and the horses have 10 acres to enjoy made up of grass-free ‘paradise track systems’, special yards with untreated post peelings for comfort, carpeted shelter huts, and trees for shade.”

Mini horses are very social animals and enjoy the company of
their own kind

“Our new service is ‘living laminitic free’ offering respite and rehabilitation, advice and management services and prevention consultations of laminitis to horse owners. We also have emergency facilities to get horses off grass immediately when necessary.  

“We love giving horses that are in so much pain their life back. I often feel overwhelmed when I see them run around the tracks, playing, galloping, chasing and living pain-free after arriving barely able to walk — it makes it all worth it.”

Check out ‘Mini Ha Ha Horse Haven’ group page on Facebook.