2014 HAS BEEN A YEAR OF HIGHS AND LOWS FOR THE IHWT
AS 2014 draws to a close, it gives us the chance to reflect on what has gone by and our hopes for the New Year. At the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) in Woodenbridge, it’s been a busy year with highs and lows, however, progress has been made and they are looking forward to a bright 2015.
The centre currently caters for a total of 80 horses, around eight of whom are currently in foster accommodation.
‘I suppose 2014 has been a very busy year for us,’ said Claire Owens, IHWT Welfare Officer. ‘Particularly during the summer we took an unusually high volume of calls about stray and abandoned horses. They had dropped off a bit in September, but now that the grass has stopped growing we are starting to take a lot of calls about abandoned horses in bad condition again.’
Sadly, there have been a couple of grim cases for the IHWT in 2014.
‘ There have been a couple of bad cases that spring to mind this year,’ said Claire. ‘We’ve found a couple of horses in very bad condition. We found one filly who we called Tess in the Wicklow area in very bad shape. The vet gave her a fighting chance but she just couldn’t bounce back and died two weeks after we took her in. There was another mare we took in that was the skinniest I had ever seen a horse alive, but unfortunately it passed away too.’
A number of factors have led to horses being abandoned all over the country according to Claire, including recession, indiscriminate breeding of poor quality stock and the spin off of the horse meat scandal which means horses are no longer being used for their meat.
‘ There are positives from this year however,’ Claire said. ‘Minister Coveney has passed stronger legislation in a new animal welfare act that is a huge step in the right direction. All horses now have to be microchipped and hold a passport, which will be a huge step towards eliminating problems in the unregulated horse sector. The change won’t happen overnight, but it is getting stronger.’
The IHWT has also managed to boost its profile among the general public with their open day during the summer and a number of educational initiatives and they are hoping the public will continue to support them in their fundraising. Among the goals for 2015 for the centre is to build a proper educational facility at their headquarters in Woodenbridge to run educational programmes.
‘We’ve already run educational programmes in places like Moyross and Darndale and they are usually funded by local authorities,’ said Claire.
‘But our goal is to have a building with classrooms here in Wicklow and we will continue fundraising towards this in 2015.’
Claire Owens of the Irish Horse Welfare Trust with Harvey the horse.