Ireland is working to take the guesswork out of the unwanted horse crisis: By compiling data from across the country dating back to 2005, Irish researchers are establishing trends and seeing clearer numbers with regard to the unwanted horse population, said Desmond Leadon, MA, MVB, MSc, FRCVS, Dipl. ECEIM, of the Irish Equine Centre in Johnstown, Naas, Ireland.

It’s a way to take on a more responsible level of horse management at a national level, he said. But it’s also a way to refute media statements that have spotlighted the country as incapable of managing its unwanted horses. “(Such articles) did everybody a disservice with their exaggerated claims, which unfortunately got a great deal more credence than they should have,” Leadon told The Horse.

That isn’t to say that Ireland’s horses didn’t suffer the effects of the economic downturn beginning in 2008, Leadon said. They did. But his research is revealing that the majority of horse owners managed the situation through what he considers proper actions.

“There was a serious situation, but people responded very responsibly to it through reduced production and (considering) slaughter,” he said. “There were individual cases of abuse and neglect, of course. But that unfortunately happens in any country” and did not appear to be more common in Ireland than elsewhere, he added.

Although Ireland was the media focus of the unwanted horse crisis, Leadon said other countries, especially in Europe and North America, suffered comparable consequences of the recession.

“Similar reports should have been carried out in o