Horses in Ireland: a litany of heartbreaking reports of cruelty, abandonment and death

PHOTO CREDIT: PIOTR MALECKI Dead abandoned horse is dumped in a Dunsink landfill, Ireland.
Dead abandoned horse is dumped in a Dunsink landfill, Ireland. (click to view more images)

When one thinks of Ireland one thinks of horses. The two are intrinsically linked. Ireland are known for their horses and where else are they so revered? That, however, has been a retreating notion for several years, but never so much as now.

There have been tragic reports of abandonment, slaughter and black market horse meat scandals. It has seemed it couldn’t get any worse. But it has. Much worse.

Even with the sad reports we receive on a daily basis about horse cruelty and abuse, nothing quite stacks up to what is being revealed about the plight of horses in the Emerald Isle.

The worst of these are about horses who are being starved, beaten and mowed down by quad bikes in a Dublin estate.

The Journal reports:

HORSES LIVING IN a field in a Dublin housing estate are being tortured by residents living in the area on a daily basis with gardaí, council workers and animal welfare groups “terrified” to venture in to get them out.

A volunteer with rescue organisation My Lovely Horse told that one horse had to be taken out of the field, in Cherry Orchard, after being mowed down with a quad bike and then beaten with a wooden plank.

The horse’s leg was broken and when gardaí went to the area to try to move it out of the field, locals threw bottles at them, forcing them to retreat.

Martina Kenny, volunteer with the organisation said “no one seems to be able to cross them – the only way would be to get the army in with a tank.”

They were finally able to get the horse out in the wee hours of the morning, but nothing further on whether or not the horse survived the ordeal. Read more here (Warning: Graphic Image) » See also Anger after 4 foaling mares are put down in Kilkenny despite offers of homes »

Then there is the mind numbing numbers of horse seizures still taking place.

The Journal reports:

FIGURES FOR THE first half of this year indicate that the horse welfare crisis is continuing with some 2,488 horses seized between January and April.

The numbers supplied by Minister Simon Coveney show the problem is worst in counties like Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Mayo and Wicklow.

Some 200 horses have been seized by South Dublin County Council so far this year . . . . it is the local authority with the largest number of equine seizures, followed by Kildare County Council and Mayo County Council.

There are just two councils that have not seized any horses this year – Cavan County Council and Galway City Council – which have had low seizure numbers for the last three years.

Find a full list of horse seizure figures here.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams recently raised the issue with Coveney, asking him if his attention had been drawn to the fact that horse rescue organisations are “struggling to continue with their work” due to the fee they are charged to rescue these animals from pounds.

A number of examples have emerged of charity offers to rehome horses being refused by pounds run by councils. In April, four pregnant mares were euthanised by Kilkenny County Council, despite rehoming offers from numerous equine rescue services.

According to the UFA, the small breeders’ section of the industry “is in total melt down”, with an estimated 25,000 horses “with no future, no monetary value, no market and whose owners cannot afford to keep them”. Earlier this year, it said: “Horses in worst case scenarios are been dumped out on waste ground cutaway bogs and waste ground, country wide, left to starve or freeze often in an emaciated miserable state. Animal welfare organisations and facilities are at breaking point.”

Impounding of horses has done nothing to resolve the national problem of too many unwanted horses in the country. A solution is required that includes curtailment of indiscriminate breeding of horses. Continue reading »

Ah, yes, indiscriminate breeding. A common problem.

The slaughter of Ireland’s horses continues to rise.

The Journal reports:

IRELAND SAW OVER 2,000 horses slaughtered for human consumption between January and end-March this year.

Minister Simon Coveney confirmed that 2,055 horses were killed in accordance with EU and national rules.

To be eligible for human consumption, horses have to have a passport compliant with current veterinary requirements.

Last year, a total of 10,711 horses were slaughtered. Read more »

These are just the numbers reported. And we know all too well about the reliability of passport compliance. A sick joke.

In the meantime, welfare organisations reluctantly say a cull of abandoned horses is needed.

The Telegraph reports:

Ireland has more horses per head than any country in Europe – an estimated 150,000, of which 41,000 are Thoroughbreds reared for racing – and breeding continues apace. Some 12,000 new Thoroughbred foals were registered last year, and the number of unrecorded “mongrel” foals is likely to have been higher.

Our Shame: The Awful Truth on Horse Cruelty, by Caitriona Murphy, Irish Independent.

2 thoughts on “Horses in Ireland: a litany of heartbreaking reports of cruelty, abandonment and death”

  1. Over breeding and greed seem to be world wide. I know Ireland was sending horses to slaughter in 2008 because the article I read also said horses at farms in the UK were being shot dead in their pastures by their owners because of of the high cost of feed and no buyers with high numbers going to slaughter.


  2. The economy in Ireland has still not recovered. Since the 2008 crisis, unemployment has risen to 15%, GDP has crashed by a fifth and debts have soared. The Republic of Ireland is one of the most indebted countries in the developed world, with a quarter of mortgages at least three months’ in arrears.

    People can’t afford horses, or much of anything for that matter, and so resort to this. Both cruel and sad. It is the same thing that has happened in the US but worse.

    And yes, the sacred EU passport system is totally broken – few if any of the countries that belong raise horses for food. It’s no different than here and the fake EIDs for horses going to Canada or Mexico. Money above all else triumphs honesty and ethics.

    Just look at the loophole afforded both Canada and Mexico – the greater majority of horses that are slaughtered in either country are transported across borders from the US yet the EU regulations do NOT permit imports of US horse meat (i.e. meat from horses slaughtered in the US as the US has no documentation procedure in place). What a crock.

    The EU sanctions are tainted just like they are here in NA….there is nothing remotely above board when it comes to horse slaughter.


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