Victims are taken in at Riverstown
EQUINE victims of the recession are being saved from slaughter by Holly's Horse Haven, which now has a Wexford branch.
The charity, established in Omeath in 2008 by Joe and Elaine Duffy, rehabilitates and finds homes for abandoned, sick or neglected horses.
Wexfordman Joe Murphy set up the Wexford branch at Riverstown Stables on the New Line Road last November.
'During the boom, everyone had a horse. It got to a stage where there were too many horses in the country. If you stand outside the slaughterhouse in Carlow, it's tragic to see the beautiful horses queueing up in lorries to be killed.'
'We're here to stop horses going to slaughter,' said animal lover Joe, who was impressed by the work of Holly's Horse Haven when he visited the headquarters for the first time.
He was managing a horse yard at the time and brought two horses to the Haven, one that had lost an eye and another that had developed arthritis.
He now runs the Wexford branch at Riverstown, where he spent Christmas building new stables.
Joe takes in horses that owners can no longer look after, along with animals that have been abandoned.
'If we get a call from the WSPCA we will load up and go out and get the horse.'
'We have taken horses that were ready for slaughter,' he said. 'We take them in and try to get them adopted.'
Injured or sick horses are lovingly nursed back to health.
Horses adopted or fostered from Holly's Haven can never be sold on or slaughtered but must be returned to the centre if a problem with care arises.
Joe is such a softie with animals that he hates seeing a horse leave.
'You build up a bond with them and it's hard to see them moving on, but that's what we're here for.'
'I couldn't see an animal suffering, whether it's a horse, a cat or a dog,' he said.
Horses that leave Holly's for new homes are regularly inspected after they depart, to ensure they are in good care.
Aoife Whelan, a volunteer with the Wexford branch who has a degree in Equine Studies from Gurteen
College, carries out the inspections locally.
Holly's Horse Haven relies on donations and fundraising to operate.
'We don't make any money. In fact, we're losing money at the moment. But it's not about money, it's the welfare of the horses,' said Joe.
Visitors are always welcome at Riverstown, which will hold an open day with a barbecue and games for children on April 29.
Martina Doran of The Gallops equine centre in Duncormick has organised a hack in aid of Holly's Horse Haven on May 6, starting at 11 a.m.
Young members of Cois Mara after-school group visited Riverstown during the Easter holidays.
The group, which is supported by Wexford Local Development, received funding from Community Foundation Ireland for an inter-generational horse project.
' The parents and children had a fantastic time learning about the work they do with orphaned horses,' said Diarmuid Doolan of WLD.
Holly's Horse Haven has a website at hollyshorsehaven.com, and Facebook page.