Cruel Times for Ireland's Many Abandoned Horses

In this, the Year of the Horse, I am becoming more and more disheartened by the news stories and social media postings of various Animal rescues of Ireland with whom I am associated. There seems to be an epidemic of sorts. Horses left to starve in fields, locked in barns without food or water, left to the elements of these harsher than normal winter storms here of late.

What has happened to the Ireland that I knew so well? Where the Horse was revered? Economics is a part of it, to be sure. Unemployment is increasing at alarming rates, new taxes are being levied on households almost weekly, it would seem. In the boom days of the Celtic Tiger, horse ownership was almost like a badge of success. When the bust came, these owners found themselves wondering what to do with their “badges”.

I work with two rescues, AHAR & PAWS. Both have in the past four months each rescued hundreds of Horses, foals, Mares, Mares-in-foal, Stallions, Geldings. Georgia, of AHAR, estimates that they’ve rescued upwards of 180 plus in the past six months alone. There is no rhyme or reason. They do it all for the love of each animal they rescue and without a dime of government monies. They rely solely on the individual donors to cover their expenses during the recovery and in the days following as they nurse creatures great & small back to health. They have them vetted, chipped and passports cut so that they might be adopted not only in Ireland but also in Scotland, Wales & England.

Pictures courtesy of AHAR

They have traveled the width & breadth of Ireland. Suzanne, Georgia and their AHAR Army of volunteers have been out in the worst of it. Just this past few days, they responded to calls for help from down near Ventry, 3 ponies, & up in Co Roscommon near Athlone. They were originally told there were 12 Connemara foals and up to 15 ponies abandoned near Athlone. They arrived to find so much more than they’d expected.  As they drove in, they saw four ponies standing in their own feces, hock deep. Those ponies had eaten the timber rails because they were so hungry. They went in to the stables and were greeted by even more ponies, foals, Mares.  Opening a door at the end of the Stables led them into an indoor arena and still more horses. Locked in without food, without water and outside, a almost new foal, skin & bones, laying weak in the mud and muck of it all.  The photos they posted, each one like a knife in this horse woman’s soul, were not easy to view. The foal, whom they named moonlight, is safer now, still struggling but, with the good care and love of AHAR, she will survive.

As I wrote this, I received word that one of the Ventry ponies, whom they named Twilight, has passed. He was too weak to continue fighting. In his final hours, he knew a gentle, loving touch. He knew a full belly and a warm bed.

I sit here, thousands of miles away, wishing that I was there in the thick of it with them. I share in their triumphs. I weep with them and hurt for them as they watch another equine soul slip in to Heaven’s own pasture. I feel their anger and share it.

I am left wondering how we came to this point. How did a country in which the horse is so deeply engrained in their history, culture and psyche, fall to this level of disregard? Where will it stop and when? Why hasn’t there been anything done at a government level?

For now, I send a monthly donation, knowing that my 20€ monthly donation is but a drop in the endless bucket. However, one drop creates a ripple effect and, perhaps, a friend will see one of my shared postings or listen patiently to one of my rants and make a donation of their own. BD

Views: 692

Tags: Athlone, Ireland, News, Philanthropy, Roscommon, horses

Comment by Michael Quane on January 26, 2014 at 9:45am

Shocking, Bit. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on January 26, 2014 at 10:08am

Thanks for this, Bit.

We have volunteered and donated to several Irish horse rescues as well:

  • ISPCA (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) -- two of our ponies were adopted from these folks.

I've grown so weary of all the heartless, wicked people in this world who think there is no harm in neglecting & abusing animals. Psychologists have known for a long, long time that anyone who can hurt (or even just neglect) an animal has serious mental / emotional / spiritual problems which are likely to manifest themselves in other ways (including harming other humans).

"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." (Proverbs 12:10)

Comment by Danny Alexander on January 26, 2014 at 12:54pm

As an avid horse lover and once owner, I thank you for bringing this to my attention! Are those groups mentioned in Ryan's response where the monies should go?

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on January 26, 2014 at 1:07pm

Danny ... people can donate to either of the groups mentioned (and linked) in Bit's article, or to any of the ones I've mentioned.  And these aren't even all the rescues in Ireland.  There are quite a few others.  But yes, they're all DESPERATELY in need of funds.

Comment by Danny Alexander on January 26, 2014 at 1:21pm

Thank you Ryan!

Comment by Bit Devine on January 26, 2014 at 10:08pm

I have personally researched, donated to & campaigned for AHAR... Suzanne & Georgia...and the rest of the crew are amazing... They have a FB page, as well as the website for which I posted the link.

I have also spent some time visiting the Donkey Sanctuary.

Ryan is correct...they are all struggling to make ends meet & all would welcome a donation...

Now for an update... Rosco...the Piebald Gelding... One of the Athlone rescues.... who was not expected to pull through...

Is standing...with support straps...and more importantly..... EATING!!!

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on January 29, 2014 at 3:08am

Go Rosco!  I'm so thankful to the groups who rescue these sweet animals.

Comment by James McNamara on February 1, 2014 at 6:09pm

Impossible to click the like button.  I grew up in an unincorporated area of southern California that we considered horse country.  I never saw any of the horses in this kind of condition.  All had proper food, water, and daily exercise.  All the stalls were cleaned on a regular basis.  It wasn't perfect but none suffered as these above.  Sad.

Comment by Bit Devine on February 2, 2014 at 6:57pm

James, it is heartbreaking... and not widely known outside of Ireland... which is why I felt it was necessary to write this blog.

Everyday, Suzanne & Georgia are fielding rescue calls... and they don't only handle Equines...they rescue dogs, pigs... animals are tied up at their gates on a regular basis

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