‘We are turning away twenty horses a week’

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There are times in all our lives when we have to put our head in our hands with frustration.

There are times in all our lives when we have to put our head in our hands with frustration.

For Elaine and Joe Duffy, of Holly’s Horse Havan, that moment came last week when Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney announced that ‘Ireland does not have an equine crisis’.

“I mean what planet is he on?” says Elaine. “It’s never been as bad as it is at the moment.

“Currently we are turning away about 20 abandoned horses a week. We just don’t have the room. We do our best to rehome them through Facebook and our website.”

It’s been a hard few months for Holly ‘s Horse Haven. Only a few months ago vandals torched the horse ambulance in an act of wanton and senseless vandalism.

“The Gardaí have told us that the jockey door was broken open and a flammable liquid poured in. This was at 4am in the morning. We don’t think this was local teenagers, it was a malicious act.”

Fundraising is still going on for an a new ambulance, but it’s an expensive vehicle to replace. “I’d say if anyone has a fundraising idea, please give us a call anything we get means a lot.”

While the cost of the ambulance is a massive overhead, the main costs are the food and the veterinary costs. Unlike dogs, a 400kg horse needs a lot of food.

“The cost of hay spiked last year,” says Joe’s brother-in-law, Peter McCourt. “The cost however has not come down this year, which means has direct effect on our weekly costs. “

The most common condition that the charity find horses in is one of starvation. Just a few weeks ago they took in a mother and her foal off the M1. Luckily both are now starting to recover.

“When they are starved you have to give them very little food to start off with and slowly build them up, otherwise they can get colic, which is life threatening.”

Yet for the all the misery that the horses suffer, more often then not there’s a happy ending at Holly’s Horse Haven.

Many of the horses are ‘backed’ and rehomed to owners or riding schools that want for nominal fee. Others stay at the Haven and have done great work in helping disadvantaged and child with learning difficulties.

“The work the horse do with these children is simply miraculous. They bring the children out of themselves. The horse have no expectation of them, and the children respond to that. “

Ironically it is often the case, that the abused and abandoned horses of the Haven are only too willing to give back love to humans , even after all they’ve been through.