Outcry after horse injured jumping car in Tyrone charity stunt
Welfare officers launch inquiry after animals are injured jumping vehicle in charity event
Animal welfare officers are investigating after receiving complaints about a Co Tyrone charity riding event in which horses were made to jump an old car with glass still in the windows.
Fermanagh and Omagh Council said Animal Welfare and the Department of Agriculture are jointly investigating after receiving two complaints about the event, which is said to have been organised by Mountain View Equestrian in Greencastle.
A number of horses were said to have left the field with injuries.
One rider reported visiting A&E to be treated for badly bruised ligaments after her horse fell during the event.
One complainant said the horses were made to jump "extremely dangerous obstacles", one of them being a car with the windscreen still in it.
Photos of the event appear to show horses jumping over the battered car with their hooves protruding into the body of the car and through windows as shattered glass flies round their legs.
A Department of Agriculture and Regional Development (DARD) spokesperson said: "DARD have been made aware of concerns regarding the welfare of horses during a charity event in Greencastle and are jointly investigating with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council."
The complainant told animal welfare officers in an email: "As you are aware, the risks involved in jumping this would be injury, which could be caused by the legs of the horse dropping within the car capsule and the breaking of legs or alternatively serious wounds caused by glass or sharp metal.
"From these pictures some of these animals are clearly not fit enough to be partaking in any jumping activities, ridden by people who had no regard for the safety of them, and someone could have been killed."
The complainant said a friend had attended the event, believing it would be in a good cause for charity.
"[She] was utterly shocked at what she witnessed, advising many horses were beaten to make them go over the jump and then left the field with many injuries.
"One particular horse left with the skin from his chest between his legs torn and hanging off and in considerable pain.
"There was a flap of skin hanging down between the horse's legs."
The event has prompted a row on Facebook after an angry critic posted images, branding it an "absolute disgrace".
She added: "Horrific to think that this goes on in Ireland and is tolerated by so-called horse lovers."
However, one Facebook poster who said she was there as a spectator said she saw no evidence of any cruelty.
"The car was put in place for those who felt they had the ability to make the jump and there were quite a few who jumped it successfully with no contact made with the car," she said.
"All jumps for the event had an alternative way round and it was up to each individual rider to make a call based on both theirs and their horse's ability."
The USPCA said last night it had received complaints "into the double figures" from people who had seen the shocking images.
Spokesman David Wilson said: "We have been made aware of this event. It would seem the welfare of the animals used was not a consideration.
"The animal welfare officers employed by local authorities are responsible for enforcement of the 2011 Act. They have all the powers necessary to investigate and prosecute apparent breaches of the law."
The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact the organisers of the event yesterday, but did not receive any reply by last night.