“The Greatness of a Nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi.
Forgotten Horses Ireland is an organisation that is committed to the care and welfare of feral and abandoned horses. The group was formed in March 2012. This issue has been highlighted in the press over the last number of years but has concentrated for the most part on the urban problem.
Many people are unaware of the depth of the problem in remote rural areas. The charity is based in Galway and came about as a result of a large numbers of horses dying in a particular commonage area in the South East Galway area. A census of the animals in this area took place in May 2012.
There were 126 animals counted on the day but is estimated that there were at least another 10% in cover on the day. This was ascertained by local knowledge of the Equines in the area. There were 19 groups counted on the day. 14 stallions, 25 mares,22 foals/yearlings were identified and another 66 horses were counted but we were unable to get close enough to identify sex. We also took dropping samples on the day to compile worm counts which came back extremely high. Three horses were removed for a variety of welfare issues as a result of the count. Many of the 66 animals who we were unable to sex have now been identified as mares as they now have foals at foot !!!
The thousands of abandoned and feral horses around Ireland are a consequence of the economic recession as animals are abandoned by owners who can no longer afford to keep them. Reckless breeding during the Celtic Tiger years has caused Ireland to be inundated with unwanted Equines.
The legislation is clear, every equine needs to have a passport and microchip which forces accountability and traceability however, without the enforcement of the legislation, more and more horses are being neglected and abandoned. We have seen cases of horses lying for days in agony.
These horses are not micro-chipped so owners have not and cannot be prosecuted. In the area we are working on in South East Galway 22 animals have been found dead in the past 12 months. We know that there are hundreds maybe even thousands of horses in similar distress in other remote areas. Many people have forgotten about the media storm that was caused about this issue in the winter of 2010 but it is important to know that this problem has by no means gone away just because it is not currently in the media. The Galway horses are facing a winter of starvation but they cannot be removed before they become welfare cases as current legislation won’t allow it!!!! We have been working with many of the main equine charities to come up with solutions to this equine crisis. We will be undertaking more counts of other commonage areas and trying to ascertain the scale of the problem in other areas.
The grass is losing all its nutrients and if no one provides hay and feed for these animals they will have virtually nothing to eat and many will die within a matter of months. We need funding to provide this feed, wormers, vets, farriers and transport for these animals to the sanctuaries who have agreed to take them when the time comes. The organisation is run solely on a volunteer basis!!
For a country that prides its self on being the land of the horse this is at least a shameful embarrassment.
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
“Many have forgotten this truth, but we must never forget it…..we remain forever responsible for that which we have tamed.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery