I could have called this – They shoot horses, don’t they? But with friends going through or facing redundancy – or like myself having been made (voluntarily) redundant – I’ve gone a different direction.
I’ve been told I have a tendency – a talent or a failing – to see positive aspects to seemingly dire scenarios. Perhaps this is an example. So without wishing to minimise the pain of redundancy, it’s better than a quick trip to the donkey butcher.
Or perhaps this would work better as a metaphor for Ireland’s current economic ills. In fact, skip the metaphor, it’s a direct result of it.
If you’re an animal lover, look away now. (Though there are a couple of very cute horsies at the bottom.)
There’s a BBC story by Rebecca Morelle about the slaughter of thousands of Irish thoroughbred horses. If you’ve seen these handsome creatures in action, you’ll appreciate ugliness of destroying such beauty.
I suppose it’s always been one of the less talked about nastier sides of the horse racing industry. There are always going to be also-rans who don’t win and cost too much to feed and maintain. And woe betide the horse that breaks a leg on the race course. The loving owners don’t whisk it away for the best veterinary surgery money buy – they put it out of its misery and their expenses out. Well… it’s business.
But behind the studs and large training facilities, there are lots of farms or families with a field out back, or land rented from a neighbour, on which they keep and train a racer or a jumper. Few will make much money out of it, so I think it’s fair to call it a labour of love, early wet mornings, long drives to small competitions. A few succeed. Equestrians like Co Louth-based Michael McAleese, 2010 Irish Amateur Showjumper of the Year. Satisfaction and plaudits – but little or no cash back.
The BBC story features racehorse trainer Tom Hogan, who is based in Nenagh, County Tipperary. He explains:
Quite a lot of those horses would have been owned by syndicates – basically blocklayers, carpenters, electricians – people involved in the big property boom. And they just disappeared overnight.
Suddenly he was left with horses, but with no money coming in from their owners to pay for them. Some of these horses were exported, others retrained, and a few he kept on himself. Others were put down.
The ISPCA (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is suggesting a mass culls may be necessary. And it wants some form of regulation to prevent such over-breeding happening again.