Welcome to the October issue of the My Lovely Horse Newsletter!
Halloween is just around the corner so make sure to read our tips on keeping your pets comfortable this Halloween along with all the updates from our farm bases. We’ve got more arrivals and departures, another story of the month, a warming Halloween recipe, fun facts and our new section on Medical Treatments.
We are also launching our Winter Appeal soon. Funds are always extremely low at this time of year and our debts grow huge as we struggle to care for the hundreds of animals in our care. Whatever you guys can do to help us is so appreciated so please support our Appeal once it launches and get us through to next year.
And as always, thank you for subscribing.
This time of year can be great fun for humans but not so much for animals. The loud noises, frenzied activity and strange smells put a great strain on them and we unfortunately can’t just explain to them that it’s only temporary and that everything will be okay. So instead we must make sure to minimise the effect on them as much as we can. So here are some good points about animal care at this time of year:
- Make sure your animals are all inside well before the festivities begin.
- Give them a quiet room to hang out in with their favourite toys/treats and use a calming spray if necessary. Sometimes having a radio or TV on low for them can help too.
- Don’t bring your dog trick or treating as it can be very stressful for them and better not to risk them getting off lead or maybe even biting someone if they get scared.
- Be careful if lit candles and pumpkins are in the house as wagging tails can lead to serious burns.
- Make sure your animals can’t get access to any of the treats or chocolate which could be highly toxic to them.
- If you have rabbits or guinea pigs please make sure that they are well away from the sight and sound of fireworks, safely in an outhouse if they are usually outside and it’s a good idea to cover their cage with a blanket to help muffle the sound – do allow enough space for ventilation of course.
- Be mindful too of animals that are not yours. Feral cats or loose dogs have no owners to look out for them so report any abuse you see immediately to the Gardai and local animal welfare organisations. Take video footage if you can, it’s necessary to prosecute animal abusers, and of course if you are able, please help that animal get to safety.
- Before lighting bonfires check that little creatures like hedgehogs have not decided to have a nap inside them, especially if the bonfire has been built well in advance. Use a long stick and a torch to lift the base and check for any small creatures sleeping inside. Also only light the bonfire from one side as this will give any animals in there a chance to escape out the other side.
- Horses should never be left in any area near where fireworks may be planned for. Make sure they are safely away and inside in stables if possible.
- MLHR volunteers will be at the ready to check out any animal related issues. Last year we attended call-outs for horses left in green areas around Dublin city with fireworks going off all around them. This is completely irresponsible so report any horses like this that you see to MLHR and to the Gardai
Arrivals: Brian the goat
Goats are truly great explorers. They are curious, agile and naturally very inquisitive. They love a good ramble and are notoriously good escape artists. They are also the most fascinating little creatures and we simply adore our herd – or trip of goats which is the term used. We are never very surprised to hear of goats found wandering the countryside but if they have no owners then they need to be helped.
We got a call last week from a Garda Sergeant to say a goat had been found in the Hill of Down area in Meath and no owner could be found. Garda Brian kindly took the little goat home himself and put him out in one of the fields of his farm to hang out until we could come and rescue him. He was very surprised when the next day not a trace of the goat could be found anywhere on the whole farm. But the thing with goats is that you can never expect them to be where you leave them, there was little chance at all that the goat would have stayed put with the lovely prospect of acres of green fields to explore.
Luckily the little goat wandered back into Brian’s yard the next day, cool as a breeze and happy out after his fun trip. He was quickly put safely into a stable under lock and key until we arrived.
We have called him Brian after his kind rescuer and he will join our ever growing herd once he’s done his time in quarantine to check for any medical issues and of course get gelded before he meets all our resident ladies.
If you have space in your life for a goat or two then please message our page or fill out an adoption form on our website. We have many amazing goats looking for their forever homes.
Departures: Craig and Martin
Craig and Martin started out life just the same, young, abandoned, afraid and in shocking condition. They wandered through their long days with no-one to care for them, slowly dying. Then someone kind found them, they made their way to us and their lives began again.
Martin arrived at MLHR at the end of 2017. He was found wandering a country road in the most awful condition, emaciated, with a huge worm burden and his feet totally overgrown. Found by a kind local man called Martin and seized by Kildare guards he was then transferred to our protection.
It took months of veterinary care, a slow re-feeding programme and lots of love and compassion before he began to thrive and come out of himself. Now years later there is no stopping our Martin. He is like a tank, strong and sturdy and beautiful, everything he was truly meant to be. He has headed off to his forever home in Little Oak Equestrian Center, run by our good friend Anne who understands horses just like we do and gives them the time and training that they need to excel and be happy.
Craig was found in Finglas in early 2019 by a local boy. He had begun following this boy’s own horse and seeing how ill Craig was, the boy contacted us and we are forever grateful that he did.
Our volunteers rushed to get him straightaway. He was so weak he couldn’t stand anymore and the sight of him lying in the mud is one we won’t easily forget. Under a year old, very emaciated, lethargic, dehydrated and with colic he was in a horrendous state.
Using straps we got him to his feet and started him walking. This is so important for horses. The frog of a horse’s foot is a triangular shaped area in each hoof that pumps blood up the horse’s leg back to its heart when they walk, so if a horse stays lying down for a long period of time it can be really damaging to them and stop their blood flow. So it is essential to get a horse like Craig up and walking to get his circulation going again and get all that blood pumping. He was so weak that he had four people holding him up as he stumbled around. We finally managed to load him into our horsebox and rushed him to our farm where our vet was waiting. That night he was nearly put to sleep because he was in such bad shape and his heart was struggling, but we decided to give him a chance.
His recovery was painstakingly slow, he spent a long time in a sling in his stable and needed constant monitoring. It took a year at least to get him right but when we look at him now we are so glad that we made the right choice that first night and gave him the chance to become the wonderful young horse he is now.
He joins Martin now in his new forever home in Little Oak Equestrian Center. We know these two wonderful boys will be happy forever now.
The Curly Bros
Pigs, as you may have guessed by now, are very special animals to us at MLHR. Most of us had never met a pig or even seen one up close before we joined and we would truly love everyone to meet a pig and be able to appreciate them and their wonderful personalities. They have forever changed our lives and the way we look at farm animals. We have 11 pigs at our main rescue farm in Kildare as most of the pigs live with Cathy at MLPR.
In early 2018, the three curlys arrived here and we’ve been fascinated by them ever since. They were found wandering the roads of Kildare and we were never able to find out who their owner was, so they came back with us to MLHR Kildare. They are a Hungarian breed of pig called Mangalica and our three, affectionately known as the Curly Bros, are just amazing. Ted, Graham and James are so affectionate and will literally chat all day to you if you hang out with them. While they all like a bit of mud, Ted is the true swamp monster. He will submerge every bit of himself in a pool of mud and come back out all happy and mucky and so content with his life. James is the one with the shortest hair and loses most of it in Summertime. He’s a bit of a loner and heads off to do his own thing from time to time but the three of them are the best of friends. At night they sleep together with all our other pigs, either nose, nose, tail or nose, tail, nose. During the day they love hugs and bellyrubs and trying to squeeze into one of our wooden dog kennels, all three of them at the same time!! How that kennel is even still standing is a mystery.
They can be found wandering around the yard, in search of anything to eat or anyone to keep them company. The Curly bros are living the life all pigs should live and we just simply adore them.
Many animals arrive at MLHR following injury, abuse and neglect. Some may never have known kindness or the feeling of a gentle touch and they are understandably nervous and afraid of humans. It can take a long time to earn the trust of an animal who has experienced such pain and suffering. Rehabilitation is a slow process undertaken at the pace of the individual animal and we are always mindful of what their personal experience has been. With time they learn to associate humans with positive things: food, care and love. We truly cherish that breakthrough moment when a nervous animal takes their first tentative steps towards us of their own accord to sniff us and say hello.
For animals with significant health concerns or injuries, we carry out daily treatments to aid their recovery. Each month we’ll take you through some of the ailments we encounter and show you what we do to nurse these animals out of suffering and back to full physical health.
Donnie is a skewbald pony who was just 3 months old when he was rescued by MLHR. We received a report of a very young pony who had been tormented by youths and was now running alone on the road in a very distressed state. He was far too young to be separated from his Mum and while our volunteers carried out a thorough search of the area where he was found, there was sadly no trace of her. Our volunteers were shocked by Donnie’s condition. He had a large open wound on his shoulder with a deep puncture which was consistent with having been pierced by a sharp implement. He needed urgent veterinary care.
On his arrival at the main MLHR farm, Donnie’s wound was cleaned and disinfected twice daily with cooled boiled water and epsom salts. We then applied Manuka honey to the area as it is known to have natural antibacterial qualities and can help to repair damaged tissues. Finally, Sudocreme was applied to Donnie’s leg below the wound to protect him from any scalds caused by discharge from the wound as it healed. He was so patient while his treatments were carried out despite the pain we know he was experiencing. Within a few weeks and with a clean bill of health, Donnie made his first forays into life on the main MLHR yard. His wound has now completely healed and he is loving his life in a wonderful foster home with his new best friend and companion, Barbie.
Yoga aficionados will be familiar with the Horse pose though it’s quite unlike any posturing we’ve seen from our MLHR crew! Our resident wellness instructor Danielle is demonstrating the horse version of the Downward-facing Dog pose below and is thoroughly enjoying the benefits of a full body stretch!
Stretching is particularly important for horses who have been confined to box rest following injury or surgery. In such cases, we put a tailored rehabilitation programme in place to keep them active and to help maintain good muscle condition. We do a series of Dynamic Mobilisation exercises (known as Carrot Stretches) with stabled horses using slices of carrot or other preferred tasty treats to encourage them to activate the muscles of the neck and back by stretching their chin to their chest, flank, girth and fetlocks. All of the movements are slow and controlled by the horse and they stretch only as far as is comfortable for them. As with humans, a little gentle exercise every day goes a long way and soon enough the horses are ready to run amok in the fields again!
Meeting and getting to know all of our animals has taught us so much about the complex relationships that animals have with each other and the world around them. They are so intelligent and caring and looking into their eyes and seeing the fear and doubt that is there at first is truly heart-breaking. Once they know they are loved and have nothing to fear it’s quite amazing to see their individual personalities shine through.
It is our pigs especially who have reached into so many of our hearts with their funny quirky ways, their huge grins and their love and attachment to each other. When you get to truly know each animal on a personal level you begin to see the need for much greater love and protection for them out there in the world.
So we are trying to promote greater awareness of all animals’ needs, not just horses but especially the farm animals of the world who have such short and miserable lives before they go on their final journey to slaughter. To this end we are trying to promote a lifestyle which is more caring and inclusive of animals needs and one where we learn how to live without exploiting them. This is a journey that we are all on too and we’d love if you would try it out with us. Some of us have made it but many are still trying and that’s okay, trying really counts and shows how much you care and are trying to make a difference
So we’ve been experimenting over the last year with some vegan recipes and have had some great results. We’re going to bring you one each month and what better recipe to start off with as we approach Halloween than a warm and appetising Pumpkin soup. Easy to make and delicious to eat, Enjoy!
- 4 red onions
- 1 whole bulb of garlic
- 1 medium sized pumpkin
- 1 butternut squash
- 8 sweet potatoes
- 2 stock cubes
- 1 tablespoon of herbs de provence mix
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Oil for frying
- Dice the onions and garlic and fry over a low heat in a large pot in a generous amount of oil and the herbs. (don’t worry about the oil as it will become integrated into the soup) Leave the lid on and sweat the mix for 10 mins
- Peel and chop the pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces. Save the seeds from the first two for later.
- Add the vegetables into your onion mix.
- Dissolve stock cubes in a litre of boiling water. You can mash them with a wooden spoon to speed this up. Add to the vegetables and stir well. Add more boiling water until the vegetables are fully covered.
- Bring to the boil and then let it simmer for 40 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and tender.
- While the soup is cooking you can roast the seeds. Separate the seeds from each other and remove any pumpkin or squash flesh attached to them. Space them out well on a lined baking tray and roast for about 20 mins at 180c until they are golden and crunchy. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily.
- Once the vegetables are cooked use a hand blender to blend the soup to a smooth consistency.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, mixing well after each addition.
- Serve with some roasted seeds on top and enjoy.
It’s terrifying to witness an act of cruelty against a defenceless animal or to see an animal running loose in the street perilously close to oncoming traffic. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to know what to do, who to contact, and to know what information will be important to share. MLHR is on hand 24/7 all year round to be the voice for animals. Every day we receive reports from all over Ireland of animals (of all species) who are straying, who have been abandoned, or who have been the victims of intentional neglect and abuse.
Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, only Authorised Officers (An Garda Síochána; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Inspectors; and County Councils/Local Authority Inspectors) are permitted to seize animals, to enter private property, to carry out investigations or to bring prosecutions. MLHR assists Authorised Officers with their work and for this reason, it is vital that members of the public reporting incidents to MLHR also report to the relevant Authorised Officers so that we can liaise with and help them move animals out of harm’s way and into safety.
What you can do
1. Provide us with a description of the animal(s) at risk and the nature of the incident.
2. Send us a pin drop or accurate description of the location.
3. Take Photographs/Video footage but only if it is safe to do so
4. Tell us which Authorised Officer or Garda station you have contacted.
How to make contact with Authorised Officers
• An Garda Síochána – A list of Garda stations is available online at https://www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory/
• Local Authorities (for incidents on Public land) https://www.gov.ie/en/help/departments/#local-authorities
• ISPCA for emergencies call 1890 515515 (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Welfare concerns can http://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint
• Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – for incidents on private land phone 01 607 2379 or 0761 064 408 or email [email protected]