I recently did a photo shoot in aid of a wonderful charity called Forgotten Horses Ireland (www.ForgottenHorses.com). This organisation is strictly volunteer-run -- that is, every cent donated or raised by the charity goes directly to caring for these beautiful animals ... animals which would be facing a certain slow, agonising death without the care being provided. The photos in the collage above and the slideshow below are some of the photos from the shoot.
How did these "forgotten horses" come to be in this sad situation? Here's the back-story from ForgottenHorses.com:
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 southeast Galway. 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 southeast 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.
Seeing the fantastic work being done by these kind-hearted folks, I donated my time to this magnificent charity to help them raise much-neeeded funds by putting together a nice set of photos for a 2014 calendar. These calendars will be sold to raise funds for the care and rescue of the forgotten horses. The most significant problems among the horses are malnutrition and their parasite burden (worms). Forgotten Horses Ireland purchases hay and feed for these animals -- otherwise, they will have virtually nothing to eat and many will die within a matter of months. Funding is needed to provide this feed, wormers, vets, farriers, and transport for these animals to the sanctuaries who have agreed to take them as they can be rounded up.
Please take a few minutes to watch the slideshow below, all of which show ponies / horses being cared for by Forgotten Horses Ireland. Beautiful, gentle, timid creatures once abandoned, left for dead, and forgotten ... but now forgotten no longer. Also, please consider setting a bit of money aside now to purchase the 2014 calendar for yourself or as gifts for family / friends who are animal lovers. I'll be sure to post details here when the calendar goes on-sale.
Thanks so much for your time and concern.
~ Ryan, Irish Homeland Photography