WITH seventy rescued horses and ponies currently housed at their equine rescue centre in Omeath, Hollys Horse Haven are currently stretched to capacity and according to a spokesperson for the charity Loz Murray they are at crisis point, turning away animals in need of their care,
“It is absolutely heart breaking to have to turn away animals that are in dire need of our help but because of a lack of funds this is something that we are forced to do. This is a dark time for horses and ponies, in my time at the centre I have never seen a worse one’.
“So many people can no longer afford to keep their horses, and though there are many genuine horse lovers out there with genuine reasons for giving up their horse for others owning a horse was more of a social status that they can no longer afford keep up’.
Cruelty cases are on the rise and with a 12 stable critical unit Holly’s is the first point of care for many severely neglected, starving or injured horses,
“We are getting more and more starving horses. We are the only cross border equine charity registered in Ireland so we are inundated with calls and reports of cruelty and neglect’.
“For a time there for some people owning a horse was like having a pair of designer shoes where people who with little or no experience were owning thoroughbreds so they could enjoy a fantastic social life at racing events. Now that has all collapsed and they want ‘rid’, for want of a better word, so the country is flooded with beautiful but unwanted thorough- breeds. Animals that were once seen as a luxury, ‘must-have item’ are now viewed as an unnecessary burden’.
Though the centre has had great success from adoption drives, according to Loz the thoroughbreds can be more difficult to rehome leading to long and costly stays at the centre,
“The ease of adoption depends on the individual horse. Some are highly strung but others can be as quiet as a lamb but race horses are generally known to be more highly strung than a cob or a pony and those who are looking to adopt are usually looking for a smaller animal’
“Some of our longer residents have been with us for 2 to 3 years simply because of their background of abuse and beatings. It can take a long time to rebuild the trust in them and the rehabilitation is a long and costly process that cannot be forced’
According to Loz it is not only the larger race horses that are now being abandoned,
“We get a lot of pet ponies, quiet, little ones that we’re bought as children’s pets and with the loss of an income in the family or a change of circumstances they are no longer wanted. When times were good they could afford the livery, feed and vets bills but now the pony is viewed as an unnecessary cost that must be eliminated’
For Loz and the Holly’s staff the ultimate aim is to rescue, rehabilitate where necessary and re-home each animal to a ‘forever loving home’,
“We will care for each animal until such time that we can find a suitable home. If someone is interested in a particular horse or pony we will talk to them about their requirements, set up a visit of their facilities and if they meet the requirements we will fill out the adoption agreement’.
“In the interest of the animal the horse or pony remains the property of Holly’s Horse Haven and cannot be sold on so if the new owners can no longer keep the animal they must bring it back to us. We ask a donation of €300 to cover the cost of backing the horse which we reinvest directly into the centre”.
But if you want to help and are unable to commit to adopting a horse or pony there are other options open to you,
“Though we get a small government grant most of our income comes from donations. Times are tough and not everyone is in a position to give cash but in other ways you can help us to keep going what we are doing. Fundraisers are great like pub quizzes, karaoke nights, sponsored walks or coffee mornings’.
“We also greatly appreciate donations of anything equine like straw, hard feed, bedding, cover coats for horses not lucky enough to have a stable. Anything that we cannot use at the centre we can auction on-line to raise vital funds’.
“If you can give a cash donation you can either donate via PayPal on our website or do a bank transfer. Alternatively if you have winter grazing land or if you have stables and are willing to sponsor a horse for the winter we would love to hear from you. An extra stable allows us to save a horse that we may otherwise have had to turn away’.
To find out more about Holly’s Horse Haven or to make a donation please visit their face book page or their website – www.hollyshorsehaven.com