The West

Anzac march horse ban sparks row
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Equestrian groups have vowed to fight a decision to not allow horses to be involved in Albany's Anzac centenary commemoration troop march.

Albany and Bunbury's 10th Light Horse associations had hoped horses in their regalia would be part of the march in commemoration of the service horses gave our country, similar to Anzac Day marches.

Some 136,000 Australian horses or "Walers" were sent overseas during WWI and only one made it back.

Albany 10th Light Horse president Bill Kingston said the group would fight the decision to not represent the Light Horse in the November 1 march on York Street.

"We'll be fighting that decision for dear life," he said.

"This is where the Light Horse left from … we shouldn't be left out of the biggest commemoration ever."

Bunbury 10th Light Horse Troop president Harry Ball said he was disappointed no horses would be involved after the group put in a submission to be part of the march 18 months ago.

The Bunbury group wanted 15 riders and horses to represent the 15 Australian Light Horse regiments, wearing the specific colours on their shoulder and lance, and two other horses to represent the New Zealand contingents.

"We are voluntary, the horses are well-trained and we have insurance," he said.

"We were told the concern was manure and that people would slip in it, but the Denmark Pony Club had offered to clean it up during the march.

"It seems like a strange decision to me - Anzac Day marches always have horses present."

Mr Ball, whose father was in the Light Horse, said the horses had an integral role in the war including bringing artillery to the battle front and pulling out injured soldiers.

A Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesman defended the decision to not include the Light Horses in the march, saying the march was not a re-enactment.

"Large crowds are expected to be lining the route of the troop march, and as we are not assured of the horses' and riders' experience with crowds and their ability to handle those conditions, then we are not willing to accept the risk that this poses to the public," he said.

"It is important to note the troop march is not a re-enactment, participants are serving Australian and international defence personnel, cadets and veterans only.

"Therefore there is no requirement for the 10th Light Horse to be involved."

Albany RSL Sub-branch president Peter Aspinall said he hoped there would be horse involvement in the centenary but "unfortunately" it could not be out the front of the march.

Although there is no horse involvement slated for the main commemoration events, there will be a war horse acknowledgement at the Percy Spencer Race Course on November 2.

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