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-with 19 still living and 16 whom have since passed away. We also have a few 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.
CHS is not a charity or a not for profit. It is privately owned by Alan and is auspiced under a charitable foundation to help him care for the horses. Ocassionally visitors and volunteers muck stalls and help with farrier care. Alan has many supporters who have heard about his efforts.
Rescue work is never-ending and there are unfortunately many more requests to take in unwanted, neglected or last-chance horses than any rescue could properly care for them. As of 2021 Alan turned 82. It is no longer feasible to continue to take in more horses. The 19 still living are 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.
The challenge has been to alter their flat dull eyes due to neglect and mistreatment, to eyes that resemble the one in the CHS logo above and to give the horse the quality of life it deserves. Upon regaining the brightness and softness in their eyes, it’s important to do the utmost to maintain their recovery. Each horse is seen and valued each horse as an ‘individual’ with their own set of strengths and limitations- physically and emotionally. Therefore each horse is provided 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.
The sanctuary is primarily run and financed by Alan Gent and donations we receive through auspicing with the charitable organisation, Bridging Communities, Inc. in Harvey, WA. Alan 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. 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)
Kaylee (The Farm Manager)
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.