Horse lovers making plans to relocate West Hants’ wild herd

Ashley Thompson
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A group of equine enthusiasts are setting their sights on a herd of wild horses that have been largely overlooked in the past.

The herd began with two horses owned by Ralph Morash and, 40 years later, some say they've seen up to as many as 20 horses roaming free along the Wentworth Road property owned by Fundy Gypsum — and beyond. 

Problem is, Ralph Morash, now 75, is no longer able to maintain the fencing that once contained the horses to the land Fundy Gypsum has allowed the herd to roam on for several years.

The Municipality of West Hants is receiving complaints that the horses are becoming a nuisance and the gypsum company is asking that the horses be moved elsewhere.

Warden Richard Dauphinee says the herd became a public safety issue when the wild horses started running out onto busy streets, including Highway 14, and becoming frequent visitors to nearby homes.

He says the municipality is concerned the horses may cause a serious car accident or “trample” somebody.

“We don't want them running around people's properties,” he added.

Gary Cochrane, the deputy warden for the Municipality of West Hants and a Sweets Corner resident, says the horses eat his grass, punch holes in the ground, sleep on his lawn and leave piles of manure loaded with tape worms scattered throughout his Cochrane Lane area property in the spring, summer and fall. 

He says three to four coal black stallions were the most recent visitors to the neighbourhood.

 “We can't let our grandchildren play after dark anymore cause you turn around and the horses are right in front of ya, grazing on our lawn,” he said, noting that he worries that his dog or neighbouring animals, including domestic horses, could get sick from the droppings the feral horses leave behind.

Cochrane says the problem has escalated in recent years.

“Ralph used to actually come and round them up, but now that his health isn’t so well, once they come here, they're here for the summer.”

Jackie Morash, a friend of Ralph Morash who happens to have the same last name, started the Facebook group entitled “Save Nova Scotia's Wild Horses” on Jan. 1 to encourage people to become a part of the solution. By Jan. 6, the group had 1,340 members.

“I’m quite surprised how many people have jumped up and volunteered their time.”

She says Ralph Morash has dedicated decades of his life to these horses, and he would be devastated if it ever came to the point that the animals were destroyed.

“The poor man, it breaks his heart when he sees anything hurt and these are horses that have evolved from horses he has rescued from the slaughterhouse or from injuries from being worked,” the fellow horse lover explained.

“He farms all summer to make hay so he can feed them all winter.”

She says her friend's desire to see these horses live on has inspired her to do what she can to help move the herd to a piece of land owned entirely by Ralph Morash. 

“It’s very well suited for the conditions they are used to living in and will still allow them to be free animals,” she said.

Jackie Morash estimates there are about 14 to 17 feral horses that will have to be moved. The horses have never been haltered or put in a trailer.

“It’s pretty much looking like we are going to have to go in on horseback and physically relocate the horses that way.”

This will be an extremely difficult task considering the rough terrain and wild nature of the horses.

She says representatives of the Municipality of West Hants and the gypsum company have both agreed to give them time to devise a plan that will result in the safe relocation of the horses.

“The poor man, it breaks his heart when he sees anything hurt and these are horses that have evolved from horses he has rescued from the slaughterhouse or from injuries from being worked.” Jackie Morash, a concerned friend

“The plan is in the spring when the ground clears a very large fence will have to be erected to corral them because the plan right now is to geld all the stallions and hopefully find homes for some horses.”

Bob Williams, a spokesperson for the Canadian Gypsum Company, confirmed that the company is willing to back efforts to have the horses removed from the Fundy Gypsum property.

“We think that the horses can be relocated to Mr. Morash’s property in two to three months, and until then the horses will be fed regularly reducing the likelihood that they will roam and cause problems for local residents,” said Williams, in an e-mail.

Jackie Morash says the property they hope to move the horses to is accessible to trailers, leaving room for more options in the future.

“If we could do this safely for everybody, and we can save the horses, that just goes to show what kindness can really do.”

Cochrane says the people affected by the wandering horses thus far want to see a long-term fix.

“I worry they will be relocating the problem to further down Wentworth Road. The herd is only going to grow as these horses continue to interbreed,” he said.

Cochrane cautions that even if the relocation efforts are successful, someone will have to be prepared to care for the horses when Ralph Morash can no longer tend to the herd.

“If anything happened to him tomorrow, those horses would probably starve to death unless somebody came along,” Cochrane said. 

Ralph Morash could not be reached for comment as of press time.


Organizations: Municipality of West Hants, Canadian Gypsum Company

Geographic location: Wentworth Road, Sweets Corner, Nova Scotia West Hants Hants County Highway 14

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Recent comments

  • Clement
    March 24, 2014 - 22:00

    Sorry, this was all a scam to get money. Please read the following.

  • Clement
    March 24, 2014 - 21:56

    Sorry but, there seems to be 2 sides to this story, please read. It was all a scam to get money.

  • christina L
    January 12, 2014 - 10:55

    It matters not where you relocate these horses, some time in the future someone will complain about them, feral horses are a thing of the past that this new generation does not remember or are willing to care for them. when the wild horse herds are gone so is a piece of our heritage, it would be nice if you could find thousands of acres for these animals to run on, and the man power to look after them, but with out government and public support you are not going to get that, in an ideal world everyone cares about everyone and everything. I live out west and I know there is thousands of acres here, but these horse would have a hard time survival in this different climemt, Good luck in finding a home for them, and the help you need. I look forward to hearing how you made out,

  • Kevin Coldwell
    January 07, 2014 - 18:29

    My hat goes off to Ralph Morash whom stuck with it and alowed nature to have it's way with these horses. As the dominate species on the planet we as humans feel we must have the say over all other species. Horses a species that once roomed wild are for the most part fenced in mostly because of our nature we are unwilling to adapt ; instead because of fear we have been teaching generations to kill what we can not control using fear as the facilitator .Wild horses live on Cape Sable Island. I say set them free and to the people of the community this could be your Legacy to be told for generations to come. embrace it and spend your money on signs to encourage motorist to slow down when going through your region.

    January 04, 2014 - 17:37

    This whole situation has less to do with horses and more to do with certian people bullying Mr. Morash. Instead of raising a big stink in the media, a couple of these "concerned" people could have offered some of their weekend beer drinking time to give Mr. Morash a hand with fencing repairs. Disgusted with this.

  • RA
    January 04, 2014 - 16:55

    I can't believe I didn't know about these horses. It’s a good thing you’re doing Jackie, I will be sure and donate some of my time during the fencing and rounding up project in the spring. I also think one of our councillors need to visit the people from Whoville and grow a heart. If these horses were properly advertised, they could bring visitors to our community, which in turn would bring economic growth.

  • Ruth Brison
    January 04, 2014 - 11:01

    All of a sudden everyone is concerned for these horses. I became concerned over 30 years ago when a mare who had a foal was chased by a bear and became entangled in a fence and died there. There were long claw marks on her rump. The foal was found with the dead mare who was covered with flies. As the founding president of the Hants Branch SPCA, I requested 20 years ago that they be looked at by an SPCA investigation officer. That happened and they were reported to be in no danger and in reasonably good health. Fundy Gypsum has allowed this situation to go on for 40 years. When I look out my window here in Sweets Corner, my view is of the moonscape left by Fundy Gypsum's many years of removing gypsum from the land and leaving piles of overburden and deep holes and gulleys. I wonder how many millions of dollars they profited from this community's resourses . I think with their many millions they can at least build the fences, cover the cost of vetting these horses and set up a fund to care for them in the future. As a bonus to the community it would be a nice gesture to put the land back to something less offensive to look at.

  • d keddy
    January 03, 2014 - 20:16

    i know some are more worried about the horse poo then anything... horse crap will not kill anyone or anything... think of what u are eating and what it is grown in.... come make a big deal over nothing just to get there name in the news..... grow up ... happy to see people are willing to help with them and find them a better place and fenced area...

  • L.A. Bowden
    January 03, 2014 - 17:13

    I think that what the horse lovers in this region are willing to do to assist Mr. Morash is very generous. Mr. Cochrane appears to be a Debbie downer which, given that he is a neighbour of Mr. Morash, one would think he would offer to assist such a caring, elderly soul instead of criticize? Perhaps, when the day arrives where Mr. Morash could use some physical assistance with his horses Mr. Cochrane wouldn't mind lending a hand instead of his opinion ;) There is much to be said for being part of the solution as to part of the problem.

    • JD
      January 03, 2014 - 18:30

      Well said L.A. Bowden! Seems Mr Cochrane is ALWAYS leading an opinion...who elected this guy for Council anyways?

  • nigisha03
    January 03, 2014 - 14:35

    It's good a solution maybe at hand but one thing - if there is a mare in season in the area I doubt a stallion will be more interested in hay than the mare. The sooner they can be moved the better.