Horses Attacked at Riding Centre for Disabled Children
Horses at a specialist riding centre for disabled children were left injured and traumatised following a recent attack. The Fort Centre in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland is adjacent to an area where young people gather to drink. It offers free rides for up to 80 children but these riding opportunities are now at risk.
The staff discovered the horses on a Sunday morning. Someone had broken the lock on the gate and injured four horses. The attack had traumatised them so badly that they would not even approach the centre’s staff when they arrived at the field. The animals had marks over their bodies where the attacker had clearly hit them with something.
This wasn’t the first time that someone has harmed the horses at the centre. In another incident, a horse was stabbed with a bottle and subsequently had to be taken out of action. The centre spends a great deal of time searching for the right horses to work with the disabled. The staff select the horses because of their passive natures, but the attacks could change their temperaments and cause them to spook more easily. This would put the young riders at risk.
The horses injured in the latest attack are showing signs of trauma and so the centre may have stop offering rides for a couple of weeks to allow the animals to settle. This would seriously impact some of the children who visit as not being able to ride could distress them greatly. Staff at the centre are especially concerned about the autistic children that they serve who would find it difficult to understand the situation and cope with a change to their routine.
Some of the children have particular horses they ride. The children may become upset or unsettled if their horse isn't available. Others simply would not be able to comprehend what has happened.
The local police are planning to visit the riding centre to discuss the incidents and their concerns about the youths who gather close to the yard. Clearly something needs to be done. Perhaps a fund-raising campaign is in order as the centre would clearly benefit from enhanced security measures including CCTV.