Thoroughbred racehorse was found almost starved to death on Cork farm

A racehorse that was once sold for £240,000 was found on a Cork farm abandoned and nearly starved to death.

The thoroughbred, named War Celeste, was found on a farm last year alongside 10 other horses.

The Irish Times reports that three of the horses found had to be euthanised due to their condition.

War Celeste was nursed back to health by My Lovely Horse Rescue, a horse and donkey welfare group.

Speaking to RTÉ News At One, volunteer for My Lovely Horse Rescue Maddie Doyle highlighted how they found War Celeste and the other horses.

"Just over a year ago, we had a call for assistance from a member of the public who was concerned about a number of horses in the Cork area," said Ms Doyle.

"Some of our volunteers responded to that call along with Department of Agriculture officials and when they arrived they found 11 horses, most of whom were emaciated with no access to food.

"Some of them looked okay but the majority of them were emaciated. They were starving."

Ms Doyle said some of the horses were "roaming in a paddock with access to a covered barn" and there were a number of other horses locked in in three different stables - one of which was War Celeste.

She said it was hard to say exactly how long the horses had been in those conditions but looking at their weight, the condition of their feet and the faeces levels, "then you'd have to assume it was a lengthy period of time...weeks that no one was tending to them."

Ms Doyle said they needed a digger to rescue some of the horses.

"There was two stables in particular where the levels of manure pretty much came to the top of the stable door."

She said the door had to be broken off and "the manure had to be dug out in order to provide a slope or a trench for them to then be able climb down off it and onto the ground."

Ms Doyle said that they had been locked in for so long that they were frightened to come out.

She said five of the horses fell under the care of My Lovely Horse Rescue while the rest went to another rescue group.

There was also a donkey on the scene that was sent to the Donkey Sanctuary.

Ms Doyle said of the five horses that went to My Lovely Horse Rescue, two had to be euthanised.

War Celeste was one of the three remaining horses and Ms Doyle said she is doing well.

She said the three horses when they first arrived were just skin and bone, with no muscle.

"Our vet at the time explained to us that as much as we wanted to try to bring them back from that, we could possibly be facing a decision where we might have to put them down.

"When a horse gets to a certain level of neglect it can be very very hard to bring them back from that.

"What you see on the outside in terms of the starvation and the bones and the ribs sticking out and all of that, on the inside there can be a lot of internal damage caused by the starvation."

Ms Doyle said they are optimistic that she will be re-homed.

War Celeste was bought in 2013 by China Horse Club. However, the Times reports that the horse never raced and was sold as a brood mare in 2015.

A spokesperson told the Times that when they sold War Celeste in 2015 she was in great condition and said it was disheartening to hear what happened to the thoroughbred.

Gardaí told this publication that they "are investigating alleged offences against animals in Nohoval, Co Cork" on February 19, 2018.

"The investigation is ongoing and gardaí are following a definite line of enquiry."

The Department of Agriculture has also been asked for comment.

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