Tuesday 19 November 2019

Novel approach to 'pony kids'

Louise Hogan

A TALE about a groundbreaking project to educate 'pony kids' may eventually be turned into a film.

British actor Tony Head, who starred in hit TV series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', praised the love shown towards their animals by the children and teenagers often spotted riding bareback across wastelands and city streets.

Both Mr Head and his partner, horse therapist Sarah Fisher, yesterday lent their support to an initiative to educate 'pony kids' about the welfare and feeding of horses and ponies on the 180-acre site of the former dump at Dunsink in north-west Dublin.

Images of neglected animals at Dunsink during the plunging winter temperatures led to the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) and Fingal County Council setting up an educational programme with horse-owners in the area.

Mr Head said he was inspired by the "amazing" work to improve welfare and education towards horses in the area. Yesterday, 20 people, from their teens into their 40s, were presented with FETAC stable management certificates.

Ms Fisher said she was penning a novel along with Sharon Newsome, one of the founders of IHWT, on the project.

"We are going to do it in a book and hopefully turn it into a film as well. It is an inspiring story and something that touches everyone's heart and it is focusing on the positive," Ms Fisher said.

More than 60 well-fed and cared for horses and ponies could yesterday be spotted grazing in the grass wastelands.

"We were getting terribly bad publicity about horses dying up here, which they were, but they weren't our horses. This was being used as a dump more or less," Finglas-resident John Murtagh, who helped set up the Dunsink horse club, said.

Both the IHWT and Fingal County Council were involved in a round-up initiative of 70 animals on the grounds earlier this year.

Those claimed by their owners were microchipped, treated for worms, lice and any illnesses and were provided with passports. The remainder were then rehomed by the IHWT.

"The site is being monitored on an almost daily basis so any further horses being abandoned will go straight away and won't die of malnutrition," said council spokesman Ruairi O Dulaing.

Ms Newsome explained they have been fundraising to run the courses which cost €8,000.

Irish Independent

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