Children were instructed in the proper care of their animals.
The Leitrim Pony-Riding and Animal Welfare Project 2018 involves children aged 12-17 from a range of diverse backgrounds in Co Leitrim.
The project includes children from Iraq and Syria as well as Leitrim children from a Traveller or disadvantaged background.
All of these children would not otherwise have the opportunity to become involved in horse-riding and associated activities.
The programme allows them a unique opportunity to participate in a positive and stimulating sport, to engage with animals in a meaningful way and to develop valuable social skills. The children will develop horse-riding and animal welfare skills in a safe, secure and animal-friendly learning environment.
42 children participated in the 10-week programme during the school summer holidays.
The programme includes pony-riding lessons, equine husbandry, animal welfare, donkey handling, responsible dog ownership and field trips to a Pony Camp in Donegal, RACE Academy in Kildare and the Irish National Stud. These trips are intended to provide an insight into future career progression for participants in the equine industry.
The programme also allows boys and girls from a variety of cultures and backgrounds to socialise, integrate and develop equine skills through participation in positive, engaging and fun activities.
Aims of the programme
- Promotion of an animal welfare ethos among children from traveller, disadvantaged and non-national backgrounds.
- Development of skills in horse-riding, husbandry and welfare of equines among the participants.
- Ensuring continuity of the Traveller Horse Culture in a safe and horse-centric environment.
- Promotion of social inclusion and integration among Traveller, disadvantaged and non-national communities in Leitrim.
- Effecting improvements in the welfare of Traveller-owned horses in Leitrim.
- Increasing participation in sport among minority groups.
- Better mental health and well-being of participants.
- Improved opportunities for employment of participants in the Irish equine industry.
The programme is an effective collaboration between a number of different organisations. Some of these organisations have provided funding and others have provided various supports for the project.
These include: Sport Ireland; the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Tusla; Leitrim Development Company; Leitrim Sports Partnership; Leitrim County Council; Youth Work Ireland North Connacht; An Garda Siochana; The Irish Horse Welfare Trust; Dog’s Trust; RACE Academy, Kildare; Leitrim Animal Welfare; Hungry Horse Outside and The Donkey Sanctuary.
This multi-agency approach has allowed the programme to be delivered in a very timely, cost-effective manner.
The expertise and experience of each agency has contributed to a highly successful programme.