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Profile On: MaryAnne Leighton, Large Animal Rescue Educator and Writer

Speaker at the recent Large Animal Rescue workshop I attended MaryAnne Leighton has kindly answered some questions about her work with the Queensland Horse Council and Large Animal Rescue Education.

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
My day-to-day physical involvement with horses is limited to feeding and caring for two – one has a brain injury sustained when he was broken in (he fell onto a lump of concrete in his yard, fracturing his skull and leaving him with the brain injury), the other was born with his atlas vertebra twisted which put pressure on his optic nerve and meant he couldn’t see properly.

MaryAnne at a Boonah Workshop.

I spent thousands of hours and thousands more dollars trying to work out what was wrong with him. I refused to give up, wouldn’t sell him and he was seven before a new chiropractor diagnosed and eliminated the problem. These boys are full brothers that I bred and they will remain with me for life.

What is it exactly that you do?
As the Director of Queensland Horse Council responsible for Large Animal Rescue Education, I conduct one-day Large Animal Rescue information workshops throughout Australia and New Zealand for emergency responders, vets, horse owners, RSPCA Inspectors, animal control officers and anyone else involved with horses. I make people aware of the dangers involved in rescuing trapped large animals, show them how to remain safe during rescues and how to avoid injuring or killing the animal through incorrect rescue techniques.

Trapped horses are particularly dangerous; they are unpredictable, volatile, have the fastest reaction time of any domesticated animal and can kick with accuracy and killing force. I conducted 23 Large Animal Rescue workshops last year.

MaryAnne at a LAR Workshop in Werribee, Victoria, Australia.

I also give presentations and demonstrations on Large Animal Rescue, write about it in horse magazines and am the Asia Pacific distributor of Resquip rescue training equipment. I’m the author of Equine Emergency Rescue – a guide to Large Animal Rescue. Published in 2010 when training in Large Animal Rescue techniques began in Australia, this book is the course material for all Large Animal Rescue training in this country.

I gained my experience with horses through twenty years of managing horse studs that ranged in size from one stallion and a handful of mares to seven stallions, 400 mares and 200 foals born each year. I have a background in marketing and public relations and am a freelance writer and the author of Living the Legend: the Ian Francis Story, the biography of one of the world’s most accomplished horsemen.

MaryAnne Interviewed by ABC Radio at a Large Animal Rescue Workshop.

As a freelance, I write feature articles on anything and everything to do with horses – cloning, the anatomy and physiology of the stallion and mare, orthopaedic balance in the horse, embryo transfer, the horses used in making the Baz Luhrman movie Australia, raising twins and orphan foals and profiles of people and horses who are prominent in the performance horse industry and, of course, Large Animal Rescue.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
With difficulty.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
To be a writer, you need to write constantly, accept criticism and not fear rejection.

Favourite horse memory?
Delivering newspapers on my first horse, a retired standardbred.

Future goals?
To continue Large Animal Rescue education, attend next year’s International Large Animal Rescue Conference in Prague, continue writing feature articles and publish more books.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
Independence, meeting fascinating people, learning new things almost every day.

“He who said he made a small fortune in the horse business Probably started out with a large fortune!” – Author unknown

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