Calls to regulate horse drawn vehicles after pony euthanized following accident in Kilkenny

There has been calls for increased regulation around the use of horse drawn vehicles after a pony had to be put down following a road traffic accident in Kilkenny city, writes Ciara Phelan.

Gardaí were called to the scene of the accident at 3.10pm on July 31, on Ormonde Road and on arrival, called a vet who deemed it necessary to euthanize the animal.

The horse was pulling a sulky when it was spooked and fell under the cart.

Calls to regulate horse drawn vehicles after pony euthanized following accident in Kilkenny

Pat Moore, a photographer with the Kilkenny People who was also at the scene, described how passers-by comforted the horse who was in distress.

He said tourists had witnessed the incident and were crying while attending to the horse.

"The very young horse had a broken leg after the incident," he said.

“Tourists were crying, they were so upset with what they saw."

Fianna Fáil Cllr Andrew McGuinness who passed a motion to ban sulky racing on public roads in Kilkenny during his term as mayor has said he is disturbed following the incident.

"I was disturbed but not surprised as these horrific incidents seem to be a regular occurrence," he said.

"Unfortunately we will now have tourists who witnessed this incident, with a lasting memory of Kilkenny that is a poor reflection of a wonderful city."

The vet that arrived at the scene Tom Downey from Village Vets in Kilkenny said the horse was "too young" to be pulling a sulky.

He explained the pony was around 2-years-old and at that age, their bones are not fully formed.

"The pony had no gear on her when I came to the scene, her shoes were not put on professionally, they were too big for her but her physical condition was ok, she was quite lean," he said.

"She suffered a broken right tibia that surgery could not fix, she had to be put down for that reason."

Cllr McGuinness has written to Transport Minister Shane Ross and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed inviting them to Kilkenny to discuss a "growing issue" associated with sulky racing and the welfare of animals.

    Dear Minister Ross and Minister Creed,

    I am writing this email in response to the huge and growing issue we have here in Kilkenny with Sulky Racing on our public roads and animal cruelty associated with it.

    We have had a number of horrific incidents here in recent months that unfortunately have lead to the death of animals and could have resulted in human casualties also. We are at crisis point with this issue.

    I am writing to invite you both to Kilkenny to meet with relevant groups/organisations such as the Gardaí, Kilkenny County Council, animal welfare organisations and representatives of concerned communities and organisations in an attempt to collectively come up with a positive solution.

    In recent months Deputy John McGuinness has submitted PQ's to both of your Departments and the responses received simply do not address the issue at all. Therefore, I feel it’s imperative that you visit Kilkenny and hear first-hand just how horrific this issue has become.

    My proposal is for a positive, constructive meeting and I hope you will accept the invite. I understand that you are both very busy and so I have no issue in leading a delegation to visit you in Dublin at a date and time that suits you.

    I hope this email finds you well and I look forward to your response.

    Kind regards,

    Cllr. Andrew McGuinness

Cllr McGuinness has also started an online petition calling on both Ministers to introduce national legislation to create a system of licensing and regulating the use of horse drawn vehicles in Ireland.

The petition has 8,000 signatures and outlines the following:

  • An age restriction on those who operate horse drawn vehicles;
  • A roadworthy test similar to an NCT that prioitises road safety and animal welfare;
  • A license/registration requirement;
  • Full compliance with existing laws including horse license and micro chipping;
  • Ban the dangerous activity of sulky racing on public roads throughout Ireland

Gardaí have asked members of the public who may have witnessed the incident or have information to contact Kilkenny garda station.

Just two months ago, an alarming video of a sulky crash showing the driver being flung into the air appeared online.

The horse also died in this incident, you can watch it here.

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