Hello and welcome to the May issue of the My Lovely Horse Rescue newsletter!
They say April showers brings May flowers and it is certainly a wonderful thing to see new life blossoming! It’s been a joy to watch little Gabriel find his feet over the last month and his zoomies put a smile on our faces after a difficult few months. April was an incredibly busy month which started with an urgent plea for adopters and fosterers to help us to secure the rescue of 14 dogs from the pound. Through no fault of their own these dogs were facing their final days and hours and they were petrified. The response from members of the public was incredible and with our plea publicised in the media, we successfully rescued all 14 dogs. It was an incredible example of community and people power and we are so grateful for the support we received.
April also saw the launch of My Lovely Dog Rescue and we have already held two ‘Adoption Day’ events – the first on 9 April at the Black Dog Coffee Shop in Enfield, Co Meath – huge supporters of MLHR. This was the first public venture for some of our recently rescued dogs and they were pampered and treated to delicious puppacinos on their day out. Five of the dogs have now been adopted. Our second event on 23 April was held at My Lovely Charity Shop in Edenderry and the stars of the show were the beautiful lurchers and greyhounds currently in our care. We are hoping to secure homes for all of these dogs in the near future. You can follow My Lovely Dog Rescue on Facebook and Instagram!
Kitten season is now underway – our first litter arrived mid-April when four tiny babies were born to Mum Liv, less than a week after she herself was rescued. Liv has a sweet nature and she has known love in her life but sadly she has been left to have litter after litter. Since Liv’s kittens were born, we have taken in a further 5 kittens who were found abandoned in Meath as well as another heavily pregnant young female. She is a baby having babies. It’s a sad and unnecessary cycle we see every year and we urge people to take responsibility for the animals in their lives and have them neteured and spayed.
These kittens are the lucky ones, they are safe and will find good homes but too many others are not so lucky. If you are in a position to adopt or to foster an animal please contact us. We desperately need foster homes so that we can offer space to more animals in need.
On 27 April, we watched proudly as MLHR Director Eóin Cullen, and co-founders Martina Kenny and Deborah Kenny addressed the Oireachteas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the deteriorating Equine crisis in Ireland.
Many aspects of MLHR’s work were discussed and we were grateful for the opportunity to voice our concerns and recommendations, particularly in relation to the need for greater enforcement of Animal Welfare legislation and for breaches of legislation to carry significant fines and/or prosecution.
The Committee acknowledged the significant role MLHR has, both in rescuing and rehabilitating abused and neglected animals and in educating and working with authorities and communities. We are hopeful that this will lead to much-needed financial support for MLHR so that we can continue to effect positive and lasting changes for animals of all species.
And so … on to May! In our Arrivals Lounge this month, we would love you to meet little Eliza, our new foal while over in our Departures Lounge, we honour the memory of Erin’s three kittens and her own resilience and strength . May’s Story of the Month features some thoughts and facts on that amazing creature who started all of this off for us, the wondrous horse.
In our Day in the Life section we meet Abbey, an older lady who was used as a brood mare for most of her life and following some ups and downs, is now looking forward to her retirement years. Our Mini Section introduces Vernon and Tyrion.
In our Did You Know? section you can learn about Sweet Itch – a condition that affects and frustrates many of the equines in our care. All this plus the latest bargains from My Lovely Charity Shop and The Tack Shack not forgetting Behind the Scenes photos and videos from our rescue bases.
As always, we are here for the animals because you are here for us. Thank you so much for subscribing!
Some Thoughts and Facts on Horses
Horses and Humans have been travelling through life together for over 4,000 years since we first domesticated them. What a sight it must have been when truly wild herds roamed the plains in their thousands, the thundering of their hooves on the ground, the dust rising in the distance as they approached, the wonderful sight of them galloping in unison, their manes flying in the breeze, their muscular legs powering them onwards.
Who amongst us didn’t love Black Beauty as a child or mourn for Boxer’s fate in Orwell’s Animal Farm or cheer for the glory of Seabiscuit’s triumph as an unlikely champion and symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression. Horses are part of our psyche especially in this country where they are so embedded in our culture. Horses have stood by our side through all the wars until more modern warfare took over, they have carried us and our belongings wherever we needed to go and they are still such a huge part of our lives today.
Even though they are domesticated, there is a wildness that you can feel as you approach them, the way they hold their heads and stamp their hooves, the way they can look at you with a haughtiness that almost says ‘and you are…?’ They have become such loyal companions to us humans with their bravery and their ability to connect with us and in many ways to help heal us when we are a little broken inside ourselves.
Today there is only one true wild horse left in the world, Przewalski’s horse, who were extinct in the wild but have been successfully reintroduced to their native habitat in Mongolia and other areas of central Asia and Eastern Europe. They are named after a Russian colonel of Polish descent Nikolai Przhevalsky, an explorer and naturalist. They are stockily built with short legs and a thick neck and their mane stands erect unlike the long soft mane we’re used to seeing.
They have 33 chromosome pairs, compared to 32 for domestic horses. Their ancestral lineages split from a common ancestor as far back as anywhere between 38,000 and 160,000 years ago before us humans got our hands on them.
Of course we have the wonderful American mustangs and the Australian brumbies who are feral horses, meaning they are descended from domesticated horses who would have escaped into the wild years ago and have been roaming free ever since. There is much work being done to help preserve them in the wild but also much cruelty and misunderstanding especially from governments and their barbarous culling programmes.
We have our own feral herds here too, especially in the west of the country in the Galway mountains. Who knows how they ended up there but now they roam free which can at times be a hard life, especially during the harsh winter months.
Horses usually live anywhere upto 30 years of age but some have lived well beyond that like Old Billy a big shire horse who pulled barges on the English canals. He made it all the way to 62 which is quite astonishing really especially considering the hard life he must have had.
Most of us know that horses can sleep standing up but did you know that they can’t breathe through their mouths or do the splits, the latter because they have a fixed pelvis. They do though have almost a 360 degree field of vision due to the positioning of their eyes on the side of the heads. This means they have a couple of blindspots, directly behind them and just below their nose. So when you offer them a carrot they can’t actually see it but are guided to it by their mobile, sensitive lips, their whiskers and their sense of smell to get that tasty morsel to their mouth.
It’s hard sometimes to put into words the feeling that being close to a horse gives you. Perhaps the joy of being with them has something to do with connecting to their wild, innate spirit, harking back to their days of running free and allowing us to feel that freedom too.
Perhaps it’s the amazing ability they have to make us forget our fears and sadness while we are with them, that feeling they give us of being outside our lives and all its cares for those few precious moments.
Or perhaps it’s just simply that in being with them we get to share a sunlit moment of true beauty and grace and having been forever touched by those perfect rays of light we are changed and become our better selves for it.
Arrivals – Larissa’s new baby Eliza
Some months ago, as some of you will know, we were involved in a seizure by the Department of Agriculture of a large herd of equines in West Cork. The owner surrendered them and it was really just the case that she had gotten to the point where she couldn’t cope anymore. We were happy to help her horses and we took over twenty of them to both our Kildare and Cork farms. As it turned out quite a few were pregnant and so we are proud to announce the arrival of baby Eliza, called after the famous Eliza from My Fair Lady.
She is a bouncing bundle of joy who would melt any heart with her sweet little face, her long awkward little legs and her curious innocent nature. Her mom Larissa is doing good herself and being a great mom.
She is a Kerry Bog Pony, a mountain and moorland breed of pony native to Ireland. They are known for their hardiness and for being able to survive in harsh conditions. They are probably descended from the Irish Hobby Horse, now extinct and they originally lived quite a wild life in the peat bogs of County Kerry. They would have been used to carry peat and kelp as they are well able to navigate through the bogs.
As you can see from mom Larissa she is muscular and strong and these ponies tend to have small ears and large eyes. Eliza’s eyes are mesmerizing, you could just happily stare into them all day long. She is a sweet little thing and in good health thankfully. Now we are just waiting for all the rest of the pregnant mares to give birth, we will keep you updated on our maternity ward in the coming months.
Departures – Erin’s tiny babies who departed too early
It’s that time of year again, kitten season, and we face it as always with trepidation and a heavy heart but also with the determination to do the best we can for all the Mammy cats out there.
Fiona, our amazing farm manager who also runs our cattery, is already looking after 21 cats and we want to share with you the story of one of our recent arrivals.
Erin is only seven or eight months old. She wandered into a yard in Wexford a week ago, possibly looking for a safe place to have her babies which were soon due. Unfortunately there were alot of dogs there so the yard owner rang around trying to find her a rescue space. Everywhere was full so she contacted us and then kindly drove up to our cattery with this tiny scared Mama in her car.
Erin is just a baby herself, a really gentle soul, so affectionate and loving. She shouldn’t have to deal with being a mom so young but this is the huge problem out there because people don’t spay their cats and because we now have a huge wild population. As we always say, ferals are no different to our own cats. They are just the little kittens who never got the chance to be cuddled and looked after and loved as they grew up. They still want that in their hearts, we just have to be kind enough to show them the way.
So Erin had only been with us a few days, and was just settling in, and then her time came. Fiona had checked on her early Sunday morning and then went back a little later with some more food. This time Erin didn’t appear as usual from her little cat house and when Fiona went to look she found two little babies already born. Sadly they were gone and poor Erin was in the middle of trying to deliver the last baby who Fiona could see was also very limp and obviously dead. Erin needed help and soon Fiona had helped to gently get the last baby out. If Erin had been under some bush somewhere during this delivery she would have died too alongside her kittens. It was heart-breaking to see her licking the little bodies and trying to wrap herself around them, mimicking all the natural urges to mother her little babies.
Today Erin is much brighter in herself and she is eating which is always a good sign. She is young and she will heal from this experience and thankfully this will be her first and her last litter. Soon we will talk to our vet and arrange for her to be spayed and then she will be able to go to a loving home and be a kitten again, playful and loving and not having to worry about where her next meal will come from or where she will sleep that night. She won’t have to fend off larger cats or any predators or try to keep warm on long wintry nights. What better way to honour her three babies than to find their Mom a happy ever after.
Sometimes we humans forget how hard life can be for animals. We think that they’re good at foraging and surviving outside, that sleeping without shelter is something they can cope with and that because they’re animals that it’s okay for them.
But then look at our pets and the soft, easy lives they have. How would we feel about shoving them out into the long, cold nights and saying survive out there now? How would they cope? Just because some animals may not know any difference doesn’t make it an easy life for them and having been involved in rescue we can surely see the suffering that they go through.
Abbey is 19-year-old mare who came into our care in August 2020. Abbey had been used for breeding for most of her life, every pregnancy and birth taking a toll on her body. She inevitably reached the age where she could no longer conceive but rather than allow her to live the rest of her life in peace, Abbey was cast aside.
It’s a fate too many horses in Ireland have faced once they have passed the point of their ‘perceived usefulness’ to humans. Many members of the MLHR herd share similar stories, Celeste and Grandpa John among them. We welcomed Abbey into the MLHR family with open arms and in our care she has found the sanctuary she needed and so deserved.
Abbey was in reasonably good health on her entry to the rescue but she has had a number of ups and downs over the last 18 months which have needed Farrier and Veterinary intervention.
An initial injury to her back leg seemed manageable and was thoroughly cleaned and bandaged. As the wound began to heal however, we saw that proud flesh was growing on the site of the wound. Usually with a skin wound, new tissue (called granulation tissue) forms over the wound and as the connective tissue knits back together, a new layer of skin will grow over the wound. Proud flesh grows as a result of too much granulation tissue which grows outwards as the X-Ray of Abbey’s leg shows. Proud flesh can delay the sealing and healing of the wound and untreated, can lead to further infection or develop into sarcoids. Our Vets gradually cut away the proud flesh and applied bandages both to protect and limit movement at the site of the wound.
Once the proud flesh had been removed and the wound treated with cortisone cream Abbey’s leg began to heal properly. She was ready to come off box rest when she slipped in her paddock and injured her left knee. Her knee was badly swollen but an X-ray showed no fracture. A fluid sample taken from her knee was tested and was found to be septic so Abbey was admitted to UCD to have the fluid drained and to undergo further scans.
Thankfully the septic fluid was found located in an isolated pocket under the skin and not in the joint itself. She was put on a course of antibiotics and was monitored closely until she could come home. Once home, she was back on box rest and during this time her wound needed supportive bandaging and constant monitoring.
It has been a slow process and there have been some flare ups with her knee over the last few months but these have always been managed successfully by washing the knee, applying manuka honey to aid new tissue growth, and bandaging. Abbey’s knee will always appear larger because of the hard callous tissue that has grown there but it won’t affect the movement in her knee.
We are delighted to say that Abbey has just been given that long awaited “all clear” from our Vets. After spending so long on box rest, we are now slowly re-introducing her to the outside world (the dry standing paddock outside her stable). We will monitor how she gets on here before slowly re-introducing her to the herd. She has a lot of catching up with her companions to do but the last thing we want is for her to be overwhelmed by the excitement, sounds, smells and jostling of other horses and to suffer another setback.
Abbey is happy and healthy. With her 20th Birthday coming up, we can’t think of a more fitting gift for her than to live the rest of her life in safety, loved always for who she is.
Vernon and Tyrion
These two little dotes came to us a couple of months ago from the pound. We don’t know anything about their lives before they ended up in the pound. We don’t know if they were friends before or did they find each other in the pound and cling together for comfort and safety in that new and stressful environment. When we collected them they were firm buddies and have stuck together ever since. They are roughly the same age, one and a half to two years old and they are so alike in personality. Both sweet kids, really gentle and quiet but interested in everything going on around them. They’d follow you around the yard to see what you were up to, keeping a close eye on things. While they look as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths they are actually, we’ve discovered, plotting their escape!
Just like lots of smallies they wanna hang with the big dudes out in the fields. Unfortunately until they’re gelded this won’t be happening but that doesn’t stop them from trying to get out there. True little escape artists, they’re so funny to watch and we just know that when they’re standing together with their heads real close, plans are being hatched for their next move.
Once they’re gelded and have a clean bill of health they will be up for adoption and we would like to see them go together so they can continue their ‘evil’ plotting.
Don’t be fooled, there is nothing remotely sweet about this seasonal bane of equine lives! Did You Know that Sweet Itch is a skin disorder caused by hypersensitivity some equines have to the saliva of the Culicoides biting midge? These midges emerge around March and remain active until November. Studies have shown that the midges are most active at dawn and dusk when it’s neither too hot nor too cool. They can be found in swampy or marshy land and in shallow ponds and in animal pats. One insect bite is all it takes to provoke an allergic reaction which an equine will try to alleviate by furiously biting, scratching or rubbing against anything that might bring some relief. We all know the frustration of an itch that’s hard to scratch but we also know that frantically scratching will only make things worse.
Constant aggravation of the skin can lead to inflammation and infected lesions, hair loss and thickening of the skin, known as skin corrugation, which is usually visible along the back of the neck, and withers, along the topline and at the top of the tail. As if that wasn’t enough, hair loss leaves the equines susceptible to sunburn.
Sweet itch can be treated in a number of ways. Managing the environment is a good starting point, keeping equines in or away from the known midge habitats during their most active hours or overnight.
Insect repellent shampoos and topical creams applied consistently can help. Neem Oil (a garlicky favourite here at MLHR) has anti-inflammatory properties and works wonders on dry, irritated skin. Pink Hoof Clay applied in a thin layer forms a seal as it dries and protects the skin for up to 12 hours. These methods are very effective especially when used in conjunction with Fly Rugs and Masks. It might look like Louis is about to enter a medieval duel, but as dramatic as they appear, fly rugs, hoods and masks are heroic in the battle against bites! Fly Masks are made from soft, breathable materials that won’t aggravate the skin and their fine mesh panels protect the eyes and ears from midge bites while still allowing the equine to see and hear.
Fly Rugs come with a variety of trappings including tail, neck, leg and belly protectors and they also offer protection from the sun. Not all equines will be affected by Sweet Itch but for those who are, it can be incredibly distressing and make life feel pretty miserable. Prevention really is better than cure and where a history of hypersensitivity is known, affected equines will thank you for staying ahead of the game and dusting off those fly rugs in early Spring well before the Culicoides come calling!
It’s so uplifting to see warm summer colours in the window display! Gone for now are the boots and winter woollies!
We have had some beautiful designer dresses donated to My Lovely Charity Shop in the last few weeks from Coast, The Dessy Collection, Nicki Flynn, F&P Paris and Alfred Sung to name but a few. They are ideal as formal evening wear, as bridesmaid dresses, perfect for any special occasion at the perfect price for your pocket.
Upstairs in the Tack Shack, we are continuing the fancy dress(age) theme! We have a selection of Jodhpurs for sale at €5, Show Jackets from €20, Garali and Champion Riding Helmets and Horseware Ireland Dressage Pads from €25.
For the latest news from the shops, please follow My Lovely Charity Shop and My Lovely Tack Shack on Facebook. If you fancy a leisurely browse, drop in to 81 JKL Street, Edenderry, Co. Offaly. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 10.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
We are looking for Volunteers to join our amazing team at My Lovely Charity Shop! If you are interested and can spare a day per week or per month, especially on a Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., please get in touch on 086 844 5076 – we would love to hear from you!
We had incredible support in the last month which enabled us to successfully rescue 14 dogs from the pound. Large-scale rescues such as this are very costly and every cent in donations goes towards the welfare of the animals in our care and making these rescues possible. April had some heartbreaking moments too. We lost our beloved Penelope this month, she had long suffered from chronic leg issues, a heavy worm burdern and she could not gain the weight she needed. Baby Bryce, rescued by Gardaí, was just over 1 year of age and in shocking condition when he came into our care. Despite the love and care we gave him his body had been so abused and he was so weak that he passed away in his sleep on 20 April.
We know that there are many more babies like Bryce out there, separated from their mothers too young, falling into the wrong human hands and becoming victims of abuse. We know there are many more horses like Penelope, being shod long before they are old enough, raced on roads, run into the ground. The long-term physical effects are incredibly difficult to treat but we do so because we will never give up the fight for animals in need. Every donation means the world to us. Every donation gives an animal a chance to have a life worth living. Thank you for your support.
Our farmies work from morning until night to keep the farms running and all the animals cared for. Between cleaning, feeding preparation, medical treatments and call outs, they capture so many moments on camera, from the interesting, to the funny and tender. Here are some ‘behind the scenes’ videos and photos from the farm this month. 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]
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What wonderful work you do.
Thank you so much Sara. We really appreciate you reading the issue and taking the time to comment. x
Thank you for your kindness to all animals. Ye are amazing. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Hi Karen, thank you for reading the issue and for your lovely comment! x