Further concerns have arisen about the welfare of equines sold at Smithfield Horse Market in Dublin following the purchase of a chronically lame pony by an 11-year-old boy for just €8.
The boy, a regular attendee of the market and a genuine horse lover, recognised that the mare had severe problems with her feet and approached the man selling her.
He then handed her straight over to inspectors from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dublin SPCA).
The 15-year-old was transported to a shelter in Rathfarnham, Dublin, where she has been receiving extensive treatment.
When she arrived, she could barely stand or walk— it appeared her hooves had become so overgrown that someone had tried to trim them using a hacksaw.
The Dublin SPCA is cautiously optimistic that with treatment for the pain and special shoes, she should be able to recover.
Smithfield Horse Market takes place on the first Sunday of every month, during which the city marketplace is flooded with horses and traders.
Orla Aungier, a spokesperson for the Dublin SCPA, said: “Our inspectors have been attending every Smithfield Market for many years, and we have always been vocal about the need to close it.
“The market square is in an entirely unsuitable location for a horse market, and it is unlicensed and unregulated.”
The 1996 Control of Horses Act forbids the sale of horses to anyone under the age of 16.
Liam Kinsella, a Dublin SPCA inspector said: “It is appalling to think that someone allowed her to get into that condition and then offloaded her for less than the price of a packet of cigarettes.”
Although Dublin City Council has tried to close the market on numerous occasions, under Irish law, Smithfield cannot be close without an alternative venue being provided nearby.
The Dublin SPCA was founded over 169 years ago to care for the working horses of Dublin, and now deals exclusively with cases of cruelty cases and sick or injured horses.
“The organisation is now struggling to deal with the increasing numbers of horses being offloaded and abandoned. In 2008, a total of 58 equines arrived at Rathfarnham shelter, and in 2009, to date we have already had 89,” commented Aungier.