Sharon Power - giving a voice to the voiceless equines
Sharon Power – Irish Horse Welfare Trust
Who will give a voice to the voiceless? This is the question posed by co founder and CE of the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) Sharon Power. She founded the equine charity more than 20 years with a number of like-minded individuals. At that time there was no dedicated charity for equines, falling as they did between the two groupings of farm animals and domestic pets. Ireland is often called the land of the horse but there was, and continues to be, a need for welfare, education and rescuing of horses to this day.
At the turn of the noughties Sharon led a capital appeal which allowed the charity to purchase its farm in Woodenbridge, Co Wicklow. Prior to that the charity had leased different premises but that provided difficult to maintain. The capital appeal allowed for the purchase of some 60 acres but there is also a mortgage which is crippling in its own right of half a million euros.
“We survived the financial crash in 2008 but that was tough,” says Sharon. “Horses, whether for general riding or professional production, are expensive, they need lots of ground, have complex vet requirements and are also difficult to handle. And since they are often viewed as a luxury in times of financial difficulty their needs go the bottom of the pile.”
Much of the work carried out by the IHWT is in education, especially in the space of urban horse ownership. It has run courses, Lantra approved, to educate people on the care of horses with a view to either doing it as a hobby or pursuing a career in the horse world.
“It is also suitable for people who met horsey partners – it can give them an understanding of the needs of horses.”
Retrain ex racehorses
There is also an extensive programme to retrain ex racehorses, where the animal has a suitable temperament, and normally there are classes across the summer for racehorse to riding horse. These have all been cancelled of course as have all the other fund raising events planned for 2020.
When one considers that racing is still not allowed the knock-on effect is hugely damaging for the industry. As Sharon points out many horses would have been breed for racing, or in direct training and that is all stopped, with the value of the animals also significantly reduced.
“It is very difficult for owners to keep paying trainers, for trainers to pay jockeys, for horse producers to sell their animals. Everything is affected.”
While Sharon acknowledges that every charity is under pressure, she is doing a call out for horse lovers to continue their support of the IHWT. “If you can afford a fiver a month that would be amazing. We are hoping to crowdfund a fee income to keep our farm and our horses going.”Anyone wanting to support the IHWT can go to the website (IHWT.ie) where they can fill out a form and sign up to be a supporter.
“If you can afford it, we’d be very grateful,” says Sharon.
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