PRICES at recent horse sales, both sport horse and thoroughbred, have been good. And hopefully this week’s Budget put a few quid back in the pockets of horse owners as there are always plenty of expenses to be paid.
Feed prices have soared this year, mainly due to the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effects. The good news is that grain prices have almost stabilised in recent weeks but there could still be another hike in feed prices due to the energy crisis.
A feed company executive told me last week that their employer had to pay three or four times the usual amount for power just to keep the feed mill running. They were dreading having to tell their customers that prices will be going up again.
Heading into the winter, there are bound to be horse owners who simply won’t be able to afford to look after their horses properly. I asked Sharon Power, co-founder and CEO of the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT), what advice she has for those people.
“There may be owners with older horses who are faced with tough decisions,” she said. “One option they will have to consider is having the horse put down. This is not the worst outcome for the horse. It’s far better to make that responsible decision before the owner finds themselves in financial trouble and the horse suffers.”
Horses who have reached end-of-life stage should be put down at home, and not travelled. “There is a cost attached to that, and owners are legally obliged to dispose of the carcase responsibly. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise.”
Power and her team at Woodenbridge in Co Wicklow currently have 47 equines on their premises. They can care for a maximum of 60 and they are constantly looking for new homes for these horses.
“We’re all fearful of seeing a spike in the number of abandoned horses this winter,” she said. “We get asked all the time to take in ‘surrender’ horses but we can only take horses who we can easily rehome.”
The IHWT currently has a number of thoroughbred mares who Power says would make ideal companions for lonely horses.
Get in touch to find out more, or visit the IHWT website to see how you can set up a standing order to help the charity continue its good work.
IRISH HORSE WELFARE TRUST