Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who's looking after the inevitable casualties from Irelands boom in horse ownership

Today on Derek Mooney's show I was in to talk about the Irish Horse Welfare Trust and the brilliant work they are doing down in Woodenbridge. After visiting their yard and rescue centre, we did an item on how the boom in horse ownership over the past decade has created a welfare nightmare. Poor listeners! After a hilarious early part of the programme which centred on France's woes in the world cup and pizza eating competitions, I dropped the tone several notches in detailing the appalling equine cruelty going on in Ireland. At least I pointed out that thankfully, the Irish Horse Welfare Trust seems to be the only organisation doing anything about cleaning up the inevitable mess due to the overproduction of horses in Ireland.

Pictured above is Debbie who works with the Trust and "Captain" who was left for dead in a field with 40 other horses who were found abandoned and starving on a farm in Kilkenny. Earlier this year the owner of this herd recieved a 23 month sentence for his work, a good sign that the attitudes to cruelty which used to be confined to dogs and cats is finally being recognised in larger animals. Those who abandon or leave animals without food, including cattle and sheep are at last beginning to pay dearly for the consequences.

It was great to give the IHWT some airtime as they have been doing brilliant work taking in equine rescue cases since 1999 and need all the help and support they can get. Sharon Newsome showed me round the yard where they had everything from thoroughbreds to cob foals, all in desperate need of attention. The problem is that the yard needs 300,000 euro a year just to keep going, and the IHWT really needs public donations to keep things afloat. This Thursday they launch their new "Welfare Aware" logo which means organisations and horse related businesses can use the "Welfare Aware" brand to show they support the welfare of horses.

After all, Ireland is the 3rd biggest producer of thoroughbreds is the world, but what are we doing about the inevitable casulties which are left over from racing and breeding? We all gush about Irish horses in equestrianism and run into Ladbrokes to put a fiver on the likes of Istabraq at Cheltenham, but who is there to pick up the pieces from the thousands of horses who don't make it?

Unfortunately, dealing with equine rescue cases is neither done by local authorites or any other organisation. They get a bit of support from HRI and the Department of Agriculture but they're on their own after that. I wish them every success in their new campaign, their equine ambassador, champion steeplechaser Moscow Flyer will be at the Mansion House at 1pm with all the team to launch "Welfare Aware". I saw him down at their yard and thank god for once recognised a top quality horse in the flesh; when we approached the paddock of thoroughbreds there were two at the gate and I remarked to Sharon Newsome what nice looking animals they were, especially the bay. She looked at me and laughed "That's Moscow Flyer". God it's nice when you don't make a complete fool of yourself for once.

More info on Irish Horse Welfare Trust at www.ihwt.ie, and the Mooney show item can be heard on their archive page -

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