AN EQUINE CHARITY has asked the Agriculture Minister to introduce a programme of identification, management and castration for horses in “problem” areas.
The Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) sent a letter to Minister Simon Coveney today to propose that the programme – which the charity has already put in place in Dunsink, Dublin – be extended to the rest of the country.
IHWT co-founder Sharon Newsome told TheJournal.ie that the Trust’s contact with horse owners in the Dunsink Lane area had been positive and that the programme had been running there since January. The owners, the IHWT and Fingal County Council held a meeting to see if there could be alternative to the practice of simply impounding horses existing in unsafe conditions.
Newsome said that impounding is a “never-ending story” and fails to provide a long-term solution to the fate of animals in areas with a “horse culture”. She said:
We have been working with the horse owners in Dunsink, establishing who are the responsible owners, and weeding out the irresponsible. The reason we cite castration as an important part of the programme is that it is very important in open populations like the horses in Dunsink. The situation there was that you had mares and stallions running together, living on the dump and foals being born into that every year for the past 25 years.
The owners don’t actually want to be breeding horses, and they signed up, no problem. We castrated 17 stallions there.
The IHWT, the ISPCA and Horsesport Ireland met with previous Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith in 2009 to suggest a multi-agency approach to dealing with equine problem areas but “nothing came of it”.
Newsome said that a long-term alternative to impounding horses is vital – currently, the charity is caring for a maximum capacity of 75 horses on their farm. She added:
We have seen a huge increase in the number of abandoned horses in the last year. We need to make available some help for people to dispose of horses without simply abandoning them. There is no market for horses at the moment, even good ones, but the cost of keeping them is also getting more and more expensive.
The IHWT receives a €25,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture every year but three-quarters of their coffers are filled with fundraising events and donations.