An Embargo on Breeding? Tough Talk in Ireland on Tackling Equine Overpopulation Problem

Publish date:
Social count:

What's wrong with this picture? One of the world's great horse events is going on right now. In Ireland, the Royal Dublin Horse Show is hosting not only the greatest show jumpers in the world, but dozens of classes for more than a thousand local horses, riders and hunts, and $1 Million in prize money.


Flowers bloom, immaculately-turned out children sit on perfect ponies. It is the great showcase of Irish horse civilization. Cleaned up, brushed off, and well, yes, he is for sale...

How big is this show? The class results are published in the newspapers just as we would read the football scores.

But this year, there's a cloud over the sun that shines on Dublin. I've just read the address by Jimmy Cahill, director of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He has warned of an unprecedented crisis in abandoned and underfed horses in Ireland, with a much worse toll to be taken as winter approaches.

Reading his words echoes all we here in America are dealing with: overcrowded rescue farms, underfunded charities, poor hay crops, and an overabundance of young horses that don't seem to be finding their way to training and good homes.

"The Dublin SPCA has rescued over 100 horses so far this year in Dublin alone," Mr Cahill said. "Thirty-one have had to be euthanized as they were beyond saving and the situation is set to deteriorate in the coming months."

Cahill blames the "Celtic Tiger" boom years of prosperity in Ireland, when everyone could afford a horse, or thought they could. And everyone with a mare bred her.

But while in America we debate about horse slaughter as an answer (what was the question again?), in Ireland Cahill simply and eloquently has called on equine welfare and sport agencies to support him in an outright embargo on horse breeding.

That's right. Just turn off the tap. Stop adding horses to the bloated population. Stabilize what's already on the ground.

"It is imperative that no more horses are bred in this country until all of those currently in existence have been rescued and rehomed," he said.

"Until we as a nation can take responsibility for the animals in suffering around the country, we should not be allowing for further unlicensed breeding," Cahill concluded.

Photo from the hunter ring of the Royal Dublin Horse Show by Alanah McKillen.