Two Irish charities have unveiled separate initiatives to deal with the country’s unwanted horses.

The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) has launched a countrywide horse amnesty, inviting owners to hand in unwanted horses.

And the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) plans to roll out its education and castration scheme across the Republic.

Jimmy Cahill of the DSPCA said its amnesty scheme is to encourage horse owners to seek advice and support.

“This represents a major shift for the DSPCA, from fire-fighting to working with horse owners before it’s too late,” he said.

The charity’s helpline was launched on 4 April and a team of foster homes is sought to rehome unwanted animals.

But the IHWT feels the best approach is to work with and educate owners to enable them to keep their animals.

Earlier this year the charity rounded up all the horses on the Dunsink tip in Dublin (news, 3 February), had them checked over by a vet, microchipped and wormed then gelded the stallions, with the permission of their owners.

They plan to expand this programme across Ireland with the help of local councils.

Sharon Newsome of the charity said: “We must begin with tackling indiscriminate breeding and lack of education.”

In the past, Horse Sport Ireland has criticised the charities for blowing equine welfare issues out of proportion.

But a spokesman said: “We welcome any measure that will help to alleviate the suffering of even one horse.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (14 April, 2011)