URGENT funding is needed to secure the future of one of the capital’s equine clubs and it is hoped that both private and public funding will be forthcoming to enable its work continue.

The Clondalkin Equine Club based at Ballyowen Lane, Fonthill Road, provides livery and equine services to children and youths who own horses in the Clondalkin and Lucan South area.

With a tradition of urban horse ownership, the club, whose patron is trainer Johnny Murtagh, has done much to alleviate equine welfare problems in the environs since it opened in 2017.

However, Clondalkin Equine Club is apparently now in danger of closing down in the next three months if funding streams are not identified and secured. A press release detailed that core funding of €60,000 per annum is needed to allow it to develop and continue serving the community.

Raised in Dail

Questions were raised in the Dail over the issue by Dublin Mid West TD Mark Ward (SF) to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD (FF) recently. Deputy Matt Carty also visited the club in support.

Minister McConalogue replied: “To date, my Department has provided funding in excess of €500,000 to the club through the local authority [South Dublin County Council], which has been the largest capital commitment by my Department to local authorities in support of an urban horse programme. My Department’s commitment extends to providing supports for the capital investment of developing such projects.

“It does not have a funding mechanism to cover the day-to-day running costs of such facilities. As part of a multi-agency approach, officials in my Department have been in regular contact with the local authority and the club as well as other Departments to secure long-term funding for the club. That work is ongoing.”

Deputy Ward highlighted that this €500,000 was to build the facility and that 20 local youths were involved with the club, learning how to properly care for horses. Some youths have progressed to jobs in racing as well as a veterinary practice.

Appeal for private and public funding

Clondalkin Equine Club manger, Rachel Maher, said: “Our Club is appealing to the Government to provide core funding and is also appealing to the private sector to assist with funding to save our Club.

“The Equine Club is much more than just a place to keep your horse. It was opened in 2017 and provides a supportive and holistic environment for children and their families to give them a sense of belonging within their community.

“The Equine Club prides itself on its work with children living in a marginalised community, supporting their participation in the club, nurturing them to be the best that they can be and encouraging them to complete their education. It also promotes good animal welfare practice and teaches children responsible horse ownership and riding skills.”

Clondalkin Equine Club has organised themed information events, promoting best practice on the issue of urban horse ownership at a local and national level and the use of horses as a therapeutic and educational support.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the club provided access to the stables for children from the local primary and secondary schools and for children involved with other external agencies, to allow them to benefit from the therapeutic effect that comes from interaction with horses.

“Research commissioned by those external agencies has highlighted the benefits of this interaction including, improvement in the ability to communicate and an increased ability to build relationships,” said this week’s press release.