Harry The Horse

Meet Harry The Horse, fund-raiser, intrepid adventurer and soft toy extraordinaire !

Harry The Horse

Meet Harry

Harry the Horse first appeared on the racing scene somewhat by accident at the 2013 National Sales. Originally donated to the Highveld Horse Care Unit about four years earlier, Harry had been living in a garage and when HHCU decided to have a stand at the National Sales, Harry was unearthed, promoted to team mascot and sent along for the ride.

Joanne Pursey and a friend were manning the HHCU stand when a passer-by expressed an interest in purchasing Harry. “I laughed it off and said he’s not for sale, but then my friend jumped in and said everything has its price. So that got us thinking. Then Tom Callaghan suggested auctioning Harry at the end of the sale and seeing what happens. We quickly rang the office to see whether they’d mind us selling Harry and they said ‘Go for it’ and that’s how it all started really.”

Amanda Carey from CTS is famously associated with Patricia O’Neill and Broadlands stud and animal welfare has always been close to her heart. She’d overheard the ‘Harry’ conversation, mentioned it to boss Chris van Niekerk and when the hammer fell, Harry was knocked down to Cape Thoroughbred Sales for R6,500. Considering that the sales topper went for R3,5 million, it may seem an inauspicious start, but as they say, horses don’t read catalogue pages or know what they cost and true to form, Harry is turning into something of a super star.

Joanne takes up the story again. “A few days after the auction I got a call from Amanda Carey, saying I’ve got this mad idea…..” Amanda had seen various versions of what has become known as the “travelling gnome prank” where people steal a garden gnome, take it on a trip, photograph it at famous landmarks and send the photographs back home to the owner. She thought it might be fun to try with Harry and see whether they could raise some funds for needy horses at the same time. I must admit, I thought this is either going to fall flat or it’s going to be a huge success.”

Harry The Horse goes under the hammer at the 2013 NYS

How it all started

The ladies put their heads together to decide how to go about it. Harry had obviously come from the Highveld Horse Care Unit, but now belonged to CTS – what to do? In the end, they decided to make Harry a national mascot, so rather than tie him in to a specific Horse Care Unit, they opted to set him up as a separate entity. He now has his own Facebook page, his own logo and even his own bank account !

Charities will all attest to how difficult it is to raise funds, but Harry is dedicated to helping his less fortunate cousins and has made it his business to become a regular fixture at fund-raising events. He goes on auction to raise sponsorships for various trips and then publicises his trip and his sponsor all the way. He has been surprisingly busy, attending charity dinners, climbing Kilimanjaro, attending last year’s Vodacom Durban July, going on a Rescue Ride in Lesotho, watching Junior Champs in George and going to jumping shows in Johannesburg. He takes his racing responsibilities very seriously and has also been seen at the Kenilworth Ladies Day, the Matchem Stakes and the Choice Carriers Race Day.

Harry The Horse climbs Kilimanjaro for charity

Harry on top of Mount Kilimanjaro

Harry is quite a good-looking chap and it was inevitable that someone would eventually want to keep him, so his enterprising team hatched a plan and found a manufacturer to keep all his demanding fans satisfied. Jo says “I found Janine Botha who runs a rescue centre in the Transkei. She hand makes Harry Kids and we purchase them from her. The purchase price goes to her rescue centre and then Harry helps us raise funds for the national Horse Care Units. We’ve started making them in all funny colours with personalised blankets and company logos, etc. Obviously there are far more needy causes than there are generous benefactors, but we do believe that if we all work together we can make a difference. Now that we’ve got our logo, we’ve had stickers made up and we’ll be doing a presentation at one of the big schools in Midrand. We’ll be using Harry to teach the kids a bit about horse care and tell them about the Unit and how it works and all the kids that contribute will get a sticker. We also sell mini Harry’s at the local market for R50 each and they’re a huge hit, so really everyone can get involved and every little helps.

We’ve had support from all corners of the horsey community, big companies, private individuals, you name it. We auction Harry all over the place and then have a Harry Kid made up in personalised colours and a personalised saddle blanket for his sponsor to keep. It’s been an enormous success and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported so far.

Harry the Horse at the CTS March sale

Harry The Horse raises a whopping R100,000 thanks to Chris van Niekerk, Bernard Kantor and Markus Jooste

Since his original purchase by CTS, he’s been supported by Guy Murdoch from Mauritzfontein Stud, Dr Ian Heyns at the Drakenstein Veterinary Clinic, Martin Collins SA, Allan Smith, Equipage, Choice Carriers, Kuda Insurance, the TBA for their Golf Day, Mike Sharkey from Highlands Farms Stud, Rae’s Electrical, a whole group of wonderful girls at the Kenilworth Ladies Race Day, Armer Properties, Team Nissan Show Jumping, Holly Pope who took Harry to George for the Junior Champs, he was raffled at the Sunlands Stables show sponsored by Rivonia Toyota and Harry most recently appeared at the CTS March Sale where he proved irresistible to Chris van Niekerk, Markus Jooste and Bernard Kantor on Saturday evening, raising R100,000. His kind sponsors promptly donated Harry for re-auction and Brett Crawford purchased him for R10,000 on Sunday evening, meaning that since April last year, Harry has raised R160,000 !

All funds raised are kept in a national fund under Harry’s name and are carefully being saved to put towards HCU special projects. Once a project has been chosen, the sponsors will all be notified and kept involved with how their donations are making a difference to the lives of needy horses and donkeys.

Harry the Horse meets Dynasty

Harry meets Dynasty at Highlands

Of course, Harry’s not one to rest on his laurels and is currently winging his way to the Dubai World Cup with Lee-Ann Drew and Gareth Pepper and fans can look forward to following his adventures on his Facebook page.

With the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter it is easy and fun to support initiatives like this, and what better cause than helping needy horses? We’ve seen the internet crazes of Nek-nominations, which have sensibly been converted to have a charity angle by some enterprising individuals and we’re now seeing the selfie craze being turned to good use with people nominated to take a picture of themselves without make-up and then challenged to donate money to cancer research. As Harry is heading off to Dubai, I think it might be fun to Neigh-nominate the South African tour supporters (or anyone else for that matter!) to post your pics with Harry and then donate R10 to the HCU by SMSing “Donate HHCU” to 48748.

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