A 'completely irresponsible' minority shouldn't give a bad name to all the responsible horse owners in the country, according to Dublin Mid-West TD Gino Kenny.
Over the weekend, two horses were captured by gardaí after they ended up on Dorset Street - raising fresh concerns about how some animals are being kept in urban environments.
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) July 20, 2020
However, there are others who feel there are huge benefits to encouraging and training children and young people in urban areas to look after horses.
For today's Hard Shoulder, Henry McKean travelled to Clondalkin Equine Centre, which opened in 2017 and supports young people with their horses.
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny campaigned for the establishment of the club.
He says horse ownership is a 'brilliant tradition' for many young people in urban areas in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
He observed: "This comes back to the 1950s and 60s, where a lot of people that were living in Dublin city moved out to suburban areas - and they kept that tradition.
"That tradition is a brilliant tradition to keep and to flourish: there's nothing better than a bond between a horse and a person. Hopefully projects like the Equine Club promotes the tradition of horse ownership, but also equine welfare and the responsibility that comes with horses.
"There are a minority that are completely irresponsible with horses - but they shouldn't give a bad name to all the responsible horse owners in Ireland."
Deputy Kenny said there are some occasions when people will abandon horses, often after buying one for 'little or nothing' - noting "that's not a good thing at all".
He said there's legislation in place to regulate horse ownership, which are quite 'stringent' - but stressed 'you can't legislate for individuals'.
"They keep you out of trouble"
At the Equine Centre, Henry spoke to some of the young people who use the club's facilities.
One boy told Henry: "They're like human beings - you can't just butcher them and just leave them there. You have to treat them like humans."
Another observed: "I love horses because they keep you out of trouble - if you're feeling upset or anything, you can just go down to your horse.
"Try to keep them out of danger and try not to tie them up, because that can lead to serious rope-burn or [get] tangled and break a leg. Just try to keep them safe.
"I just love horses so much because I bond with them very well."
“Sometimes the horses would be free or cost less than €50.” @Ginosocialist on abdoned horses & how he helped set up an equine club to help the situation. @IvanYatesNT @NewstalkFM from 4pm. pic.twitter.com/e7JVkXwuyO
— Henry McKean (@HenryMcKean) July 20, 2020
Rachel Maher, development manager at the club, said there'll always be "one or two bad apples," but a lot of children and other horse owners in Dublin truly care about their animals.
She said: "Since my time here in Clondalkin, everybody I've met has been fantastic - they all love their horses. They always try to do their best, and want to to do right by the horse.
"It is an unfortunate set of circumstances in Dublin, but I do think the problem is not as prevalent as it was. I think a lot of it is to do with the building and development around Dublin.
"More centres like this would be fantastic, in an ideal world. The children come here, they're taught animal husbandry and to look after their animals. It keeps a lot of children off the road or hanging around... we need to provide facilities for all people, young people included."