Animal charity says horses are being given to kids as confirmation gifts

Martina Kenny, co-founder of My Lovely Horse Rescue, says ‘a horse is not supposed to be in a housing estate.’

The animal welfare charity often gets calls of horses kept in back gardens or 'in estates tied to poles'. Pic: Stock image/Getty© Getty Images/iStockphoto


There has been a “huge increase” in gardaí enforcing legislation to protect horses in urban areas in Dublin, according to an animal welfare group.

On Saturday, four people were arrested in Dublin 8 in a multi-agency operation aimed at horse drawn carriages.

Animal Welfare Inspectors from Dublin City Council assisted in the operation.

The four arrests were for various offences, including public order and operating while under the influence of intoxicant, while 18 breaches of the Control of Horses Act were identified.

“A horse is not supposed to be in a housing estate, a lot of horses are kept in back gardens which is not suitable. It’s not a life for a horse to live,” said Martina Kenny, co-founder of My Lovely Horse Rescue.

She said the organisation is often called out to animal welfare cases of horses owned by “kids” in Dublin, who have received the horse as a communion, confirmation or birthday present.

“I’ve seen mothers and grannies buying a little stallion for their child, and if that stallion bears a mare, he will be wild. I have seen that,” Ms Kenny said.

“It is a dangerous animal, one kick could kill a child or hurt an adult. People need to understand it’s not the life of a horse to live in an urban area.

“A lot of the time we see horses owned by children which are not getting the care they need.

“A horse costs a lot of money, they need hay and if they get sick, they need veterinary treatment. There are a lot of different things with horses that children don’t understand,” she added.

The organisation is also calling for Dublin City Council to re-issue license plates to carriage drivers to ensure accountability, identification and welfare of horses.

In 2018, the council stopped issuing licenses for horse drawn carriages, and the animal welfare group says this has allowed anyone to operate carriages in the city.

Horse drawn carriages are frequently seen around the St Stephen’s Green area, as well as St James’ Gate and often carry tourists.

“Not every single carriage horse driver is a bad guy, there are some people who make their living and look after their horses,” said Ms Kenny.

However, she said the problem is when people “out to make a quick buck or two use ill-fitted tacks on the horses and carriages that are not safe”.

“There are no rules whatsoever. At least if a tourist gets into trouble or somebody needs to know if the driver is above board, they can see the license plate clearly like a car,” she added.

The organisation also often receives calls of “horses in estates tied to poles” and works with the gardai to remove the animals.

Horses kept on tarmac and concept pavements are also susceptible to hoof and leg damage.

“It can be very sore on a horse if their hoof is chipped and not looked after. They can grow and grow and cause all sorts of problems with their legs,” Ms Kenny said.

The organisation is also calling for the implementation of Animal Welfare Gardaí, similar to those in other European countries, to be specialised in animal welfare and be on hand to assist in cases of removing animals from unsuitable environments.

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