horse grazing in Dublin, photo by jaqian (Flickr CC)

Stories of dogs and cats being abandoned due to tough economic times – or cruel indifference because they’ve simply become inconvenient – are unfortunate, but familiar scenarios. The abandonment of pets has even transformed the local ecology in parts of the world: an estimated 150,000 Burmese pythons live in the Florida Everglades and several London parks are chock full of exotic parakeets which originate in Africa and India.

Ireland has its fair share of invasive species, but horses are not considered one of them. However, thousands of unwanted horses are some of the latest casualties in the global economic downturn as it manifests in Ireland. Abandoned and neglected horses are a familiar sight in the Irish capital of Dublin; tied to posts with nylon rope that cuts into their skin, and dumped in fields or rubbish tips, according to an investigative report from the equestrian periodical Horse and Hound.

Always a horse country, when Ireland’s economy was booming, so was its horse trade; from expensive thoroughbreds to those considered to be of ‘poor breeding’. There may still be a market for the thoroughbreds, but times are tough for all Irish horses, especially the mongrel and ‘low quality’ horses.

From a piece in the Telegraph:

Back in the Celtic Tiger days, when the economy was booming, there was space for all of these animals. People bought horses as status symbols. Builders, plumbers, postmen would make a fortune, move out of the cities, buy a house in the country, and take on a few horses.

–Barbara Bent, chairman of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA)

The economic downturn has made horse keeping an unaffordable luxury for many, which has spurred many cases of animal cruelty and abandonment. In a situation where a cost of euthanizing a horse is considered too expensive at around €300, many owners choose abandonment. Animal welfare groups are overburdened, leading some groups to reluctantly call for a cull as the only solution to the growing problem.

For more on the story see the following article from the Irish Independent:

Offering a helping hand to the neglected horses

Additional resources:

Telegraph blog – Unwanted Irish horses are victims of the economic downturn