It all started in January this year when I read a
little article in the newspapers explaining
that with the financial crises people all over Ireland
can´t afford to keep their horses anymore.
Abandoned horses are roaming Ireland and face starvation. Especially this Winter has been very rough and cold. A lot of the free horses are beyond veterinary treatment due to sickness or injury and had to be put down.
Around Dublin are the worst cases of playing cruel games with the animals like letting them walk on frozen rivers until the ice breaks under their feet and at the Smithfield Market in Dublin you can buy a horse for the price of a mobile phone. Growing up in Berlin I ve never been really interested in horses, even when I was a little girl.
It was something for the rich and pure luxury. So it was a disturbing image for me picturing those kind of magical creatures like that. I immediatly wanted to see for myself, I needed to go to rland and find horses in places where you wouldn´t expect them.
I flew to Ireland in Februay. Just me and my camera. And it was a trip I would never forget.
On my way to the first stop of my journey to the Smithfield Horse Market
in Dublin, I make a big mistake.
I am a bit lost and see a car on the motorway with a horse in the back,
which I follow, because I think the driver is going to the market.
It turns out not so.
After an half hour I find myself surrounded with men in a little shut down road and another horse.
I ran into an illegal horse race. They all look at me in my little Nissan Micra Rental car. I look at my camera on the front seat, decide to take the Road Map instead, I switch on my I-am-a-lost-tourist-face, then I hit the gear and leave.
I just got the car a couple of hours before, everything is on the wrong side a sudden runaway would have been impossible. As I finally arrive at the Smithfield Market it starts to rain. The vibes around that place are pretty bad almost aggressive. I see just one woman who is a police officer and horses in every condition, statur and colour.
I look at a pony next to me. It doesn´t look good. Fifty quid, says a young boy with a cigarette between his half black teeths. Thats a good price, but I do not know where to put it, I say. In your bedroom, he smiles, it has a big cock. I try to laugh with him.
On the way back to my car I see a donkey leashed to a traffic sign. A guy comes around and starts to free the animal.
I talk to him and he tells me that he is working for the ISPCA ( (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ), and if I want to find some lonely horses I should go to Dunsink, which is a golfcourse next to the Motorway.
Then he leaves. With the donkey.
On the next day I visite a horsefarm in Swords.
The owner is a tall irish guy in his fourties, named Rory McCulloch.
He has been a horsebreeder for 7 years and owns about 45 horses. Occasionally he also has three dogs and they are hidding under my coat. After a tour around his farm we decide to catch up later in the evening for a pint.
We drive to a bar in Oldtown which is owned by a famous jockey. I tell Rory that I need to go to Finglas, but people say it is to dangerous or me to go there. I might get robbed. Rory smiles one of the horses belongsto a friend in Finglas, he picks up the phone and starts dialing a number.
He tells him about my project and asks if we can come around. He listens carefully to his friend voice and his face darkens increasingly. Thank you mate, he says. hangs up the phone.
Rory tells me we shouldn´t go there even the ISPCA got attacked there a few days ago.
We drink our second pint in silence. Then he mumbles Fuck it , drinks another in one gulp, grabs the keys to the Jeep and we leave off to Finglas in the middle of the night. We drive around for about 15 Minutes until I see a huge horse standing in front of a shop.
I tell Rory to stop the car; I jump out and take a picture. Then I hear somebody yelling at me from the other side of the street. Rory flashes the headlights and pulls in the car right next to me. Get in we have to leave, he says.
I am on the road again. Everyday somewhere else.
Now in County Cork.
In Kildorerry a tiny little town find a place to stay. Throughout the whole trip I´ve been the only guest in every location so far. It rains heavy when I make my way to a veterinary hospital. The doctor isn´t there so I start to chat with the assistent Gavin O Dwyer, he is 25 years old and the nicest person I ve met so far. I explain to him what I am doing here in Ireland.
I show him my map and he starts to tell me everthing he knows about this area.A farmer has been listening to our converstaion and mumbles that close to the railway in Ardpatrick is a place with three horses standing in mud and their own shit.
But it is a pitiable sight.
He gives me directions.
I drive nearly two hours through the country. Until I find it. The horses are in a really bad condition. One of them has misty eyes and his hooves look terriblily deformed.
I take pictures but decide to come back at night. It starts to rain again.