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Dublin: 18°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

'They're so cold, with no food, wasting away': Rescue charity received 30 calls about horses in one day

My Lovely Horse Rescue said owners have again abandoned horses in fields this winter.

Image: MLHR

A CHARITY THAT rescues and rehomes horses – and this year dogs too – has said it has been a cruel winter for equines, as many were left by their owners without food or shelter.

“It’s been a very busy year in general, Martina Kenny, one of the founders of My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) said. “Yesterday alone we had 30 calls just about horses. Since we starter properly taking dogs as well about four or five months ago, we’ve taken 80 dogs.

“There’s definitely been no improvement in the animal welfare situation, despite what the government seems to think. It may be that it looks like there’s a slight improvement because numbers being put down are lower – that’s because the pounds are trying to home them now that the councils and government have told them to.

“Those horses are mainly going to rescues, so their numbers go down and numbers for rescue organisations go up. It makes no sense.”

Kenny said the charity’s volunteers this year have again seen horses left in fields in the winter by owners who “can’t be bothered” with them.

“There was a lot of breeding in the summer so it’s lots of foals now. They’re just discarded like rubbish, it’s awful.

In the summer we worry in the hot weather about abandoned horses being left parched without water, getting dehydrated and dying. Then in the winter, we worry about them being left with no grass, or even if there is a bit of grass it’s no good to them, there’s no goodness in it in winter. They’re so cold, with no food and just wasting away.

Kenny said it is more expensive to feed horses in the winter and with vets fees on top of that, “people just don’t want to deal with it”.

The charity receives calls day and night and volunteers are working through the festive period. Kenny said they rely on their volunteers to be generous with their time and on public donations to keep the charity running all year round.

“We have to work on the farm, we have 150 animals just on there and we are at three locations with nearly 300 animals now. The animals don’t take a day off, neither do any of the ones left abandoned in fields, so we don’t either.

Christmas can be a horrible time for a lot of people and animals, a lonely time and a cruel time.

Although the charity can not save every horse it is called to and volunteers have seen some devastating cruelty in the last 12 months, there are plenty of success stories.

Two, in particular, stuck with Martina Kenny.

“Last winter just after Christmas children in Finglas called the charity about a horse that was on the ground, who they couldn’t get back up.

Source: My Lovely Horse Rescue/YouTube

“He was a foal, he was really weak God love him, it was awful. We spent three months just picking him up off the ground all the time and we have a special hoist we used to get him up and down. It was just so touch and go, we never thought he’d make it. Now he’s this fine, healthy, big fella, he’s a beauty.”

Another case Kenny spoke about was of a newborn foal who had rolled into a river. He was only a few hours old, there were loads of horses dumped in a field, we couldn’t figure out who his mother was because there were foals sucking off different mares.

“It was 12 at night and freezing cold. We got him out of the river and into the car because it was warm, he was so tiny. I didn’t think he’d survive.

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“Myself and another volunteer from around 1am until 7am drove from Kildare and ended up in Dublin, we went to every single 24-hour chemist and garage looking for goats milk and a baby bottle to feed him.

“He drank the goats milk like there was no tomorrow. We ended up waking up some of the (veterinary) interns in UCD to get foal milk. He’s made it now, he’s two and a half months old and he’s amazing.”

It’s been a long and busy year for MLHR, but Kenny says: “To see them come back like that, it’s all worth it.”

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