Ireland’s Equine Welfare Tumble: It’s the Same, Only Different–and With a Bit of Poetry and Music

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Maybe you remember a film from the 1990s called Into the West. If you don’t remember it, rent it or download it or stream it.

Into the West was the story of two of Dublin’s young “pony boys” who accidentally end up with a horse who turns out to be a world class show jumper. It’s one of those whimsical Irish films that tears your heart out. The boys are from a Traveler family that is forced to leave the caravan parked out in the country and settle into an urban block of apartments. Luckily the elevator is big enough for an oversized gray Irish Sport horse, and everyone’s hearts are big enough for the lovely legend of Tir n’a nOg.

Tir n’a nOg is the land of eternal youth and you can only get there by riding upon the most beautiful of horses. It will? gallop across mountains, lakes and seas to carry you to the beautiful land. Once you’re on its back, you will never grow old and you can live forever in the beautiful land beyond the waves. Ah, but if your feet ever touch the ground,? you’ll wither and die. You must stay on the horse’s back, and you’ll stay forever young.

There’s something to that story, you know. If you go to Ireland, the children all seem comfortable around ponies and donkeys and when you watch adults around horses, they seem transported by the mere presence of them, as if they’re suddenly made young and a little bit foolish by their four-legged brethren.

Until the mid-1990s, you could keep a horse in downtown Dublin, on any open land. And people did.

When the laws changed, horses didn’t disappear from Dublin but horse owners saw a sort of equine Tir n’a nOg taking shape in the Finglas district, when a 140-acre landfill was sealed and seeded with grass. The top soil may have been thin and the grass may have been thinner but never a greener paddock beckoned to the ponies, or so the legend goes. And in recent years, as the economy tumbled, the legends grew, and we heard of horses being led to the landfill under the cover of the sweet Irish mist at midnight, to be turned loose with the Travelers’ ghostly mares. There could be a thousand horses out there, we were told.

A thousand horses turned out to be only 70 by the time the roundup started, and, as you will see on the IHWT? video, all but a few were claimed.

It turned out that the Irish Horse Welfare Trust knows a thing or two about people, as well as about horses. And that a few months at the IHWT farm may be the beginning of a Tir n’a nOg-on-earth experience for homeless horses.

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The IHWT accepts donations from all over the world with their secure online system. The donation form is in Euros. Click here for a currency converter. Right now, 10 euros is almost $14. There’s lots more information at

Thanks to Horse Box TV for making the videos for Irish Horse Welfare, and for making them available to be on The Jurga Report.

Go to the beginning of The Jurga Report.




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