Galway based charity Forgotten Horses Ireland CHY20409 recently celebrated its first year providing care and welfare to feral and abandoned horses in commonage and remote areas in Ireland. The charity, which currently has 17 horses in its care, has reduced the number of deaths of abandoned horses on a particular commonage area in Galway County from 22 in 2011 to four in 2012.
Speaking about this dramatic reduction in the number of deaths of abandoned horses, founder of the charity Eileen Naughton noted, ‘The number of animals who died on this particular commonage area in Galway County in the winter of 2012 was four. Two of these horses were shot, and two were found dead, most likely of colic rather than starvation. This figure is a stark contrast to the 22 abandoned horses who died in the winter of 2011 on this large commonage due to starvation and lack of care’.
Ms Naughton attributes this turnaround to the hard work of the charity’s volunteers. She added that ‘The volunteers are well trained and supported in order to constantly monitor the area , feed the horses and report animals in a welfare crisis situation’. These horses are removed from the area in conjunction with authorised officers. 22 horses have been removed by the charity since March 2012, with five taken in by other sanctuaries and the remaining 17 staying with the charity.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2013, the charity’s principal goal is to develop and implement a strategy to halt the population as it currently stands and to facilitate the removal as many animals as possible for rehoming and rehabilitation during the summer months in order to reduce the number of deaths in winter.
A key element of achieving this goal is the annual census conducted to document the number of horses currently on a particular commonage area in Galway County. The 2013 census will take place on May 12th.
The charity is also seeking to provide a working template for other areas in Ireland which face similar problems with unwanted horses. ‘The public are very aware of the problem of unwanted horses in urban areas and of the role of economic downturn in the increase of abandoned horses. However, many people do not realise the extent of the issue in rural areas’, Ms Naughton pointed out.
Forgotten Horses Ireland has an active fundraising calendar with the aims of both educating the public regarding equine welfare and raising funds for a rehabilitation centre for horses for the purposes of retraining and rehoming these unwanted animals.