CHERRABAH Homestead Resort management has refuted claims by a visitor that its horses and other livestock are in poor condition bordering on mistreatment.
The Daily News received information this week from a recent camping visitor to Cherrabah, from outside of Warwick, that a lack of water and adequate feed appeared to be affecting the welfare of the former trotting horses the resort uses for guest riding activities.
The source also expressed concern about the wellbeing and housing of sheep used for shearing demonstrations, along with goats and alpacas.
They told of being "close to tears" at the condition of some of the animals and left the resort before a planned overnight stay.
Cherrabah is currently the subject of a massive redevelopment by its China-based owners, currently on hold with federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt due to the presence of a colony of rare spotted tail quolls on the Elbow Valley site.
In the meantime the resort continues to operate as it has done for several decades, offering guests what it terms a uniquely Australian outback experience.
The Daily News visited Cherrabah this week to investigate the animal welfare claims, with a visibly upset operations manager Fran Edney emphatically denying the allegations.
While it is understood no formal complaint has been lodged by any recent visitor, Ms Edney said she would welcome a visit from RSPCA inspectors "any time they wanted to turn up".
She also allowed the Daily News to inspect the 20 horses used by staff and guests, with the horses appearing to be in good condition in the Cherrabah stables.
Ms Edney said the horses were stabled and fed every morning after coming in of their own accord from the sprawling 2400-hectare mountain property.
She also said they were regularly shod by a local farrier and received prompt vet treatment if required.
"If there are no guest rides booked, the horses are allowed out of the stables mid-morning after being fed and back onto the property where they can roam as they please," Ms Edney said.
"It is the case that we have several very old horses here who are not used for rides anymore - they are retired and they will stay here on Cherrabah until they die.
"But they are as well looked after as the other horses, if not more so.
"They are simply old and they're part of the family.
"I am disappointed that someone with a concern would not approach Cherrabah management during their stay so we could address their issue.
"I would have absolutely no problem with the RSPCA coming here at any stage to inspect any of our horses."
The Daily News was also shown pens used for sheep and goats, with work taking place during our visit on new fencing and shade materials.
Those animals also appeared to be in reasonable condition.
Ms Edney said water was easily available to all of Cherrabah's animals - with the lake being the main source along with several bores - and that a new filtration system had recently been installed.
She said the sheep and goats were able to leave the pen area and roam a small adjoining paddock where shade trees were available.
"We have done a lot of work and spent a lot of money in recent times maintaining and improving all of our animals' amenities, along with the resort facilities as a whole," Ms Edney said.
"Cherrabah is still attracting plenty of visitors.
"The redevelopment plan is not part of my responsibilities - I look after the running of the venue as it currently exists and I am proud of what our staff are achieving."