Shepparton farmers Robin Schmitt and Dr Mark Harris have shared their enormous “pride” for their beloved standardbreds, who worked tirelessly to help a team evacuate flood-stricken animals.
The pair’s farm is in Kialla East, which like much of their surrounds is underwater, requiring them to couple with neighbours and friends to mount a rescue for their animals.
At the forefront of the response were Elvis and Brigadier, their standardbreds and ex-harness racehorses, who Ms Schmitt said showed extraordinary resilience.
“We couldn’t believe how they handled the situation in the mud and knee deep in water, not once overreacting but always staying calm,” Ms Schmitt said.
“We couldn’t have done it without them and even though they were exhausted they didn’t give up and walked to dry ground.
“We love our beautiful boys so much and were so proud of the rescue, which brought us great relief.”
Ms Schmitt and Dr Harris have run their beef cattle farm next to Honeysuckle Creek since 2005, with the animal lovers also housing horses, dogs, cats and chickens.
They added Elvis when he was 12 years old, after he “had been living with a lovely young girl who had been riding him for three years post track work”.
‘’He had the most amazing personality and looked stunning with his shiny jet black coat,” Ms Schmitt said. “He held his head high and was a real show off. He was so comfortable to ride and loved being around people.
“Brigadier came soon after. He had good breeding and a beautiful temperament. He was very friendly and we loved him instantly.
“He was straight from the track but loved running around, just being a horse, and became Elvis’s best buddy. Both them become inseparable and family members.”
And the pair were side-by-side from Friday through to Sunday as part of a dramatic rescue of the family’s bulls.
“The last few days have been hectic and stressful,” Ms Schmitt said. “We knew our house would be safe but we were incredibly worried about cows, bulls and calves, some of whom were standing ankle deep in water.
“It became serious when overnight we were cut off by flood waters surrounding our house.
“The paddocks were inaccessible by tractor or any other vehicle. A friend offered to bring his boat after Mark had to kayak to the gate and open it. The Bulls and horses had no where to go and the water was rising.
“Another friend rowed out to the horses and caught them easily and hopped on bareback. These two beautiful, now aged, majestic beasts had not been ridden for several years and performed impeccably. They rounded up the bulls and herded them towards the cut fence and on to the road.”
Elvis and ‘Brigy’ are now resting on higher ground, with all animals safely relocated out of the reach of flood waters.