The Control of Horses Act 1996 has had a significant impact on horse owners throughout the county. This legislation requires that horse owners must own or have access to land. The implications for the Traveller horse owners in particular, are immense.
Kerry Travellers Health & Community Development Project carried out consultation with Travellers between 1998 and 2000, which focused on Traveller horse culture in particular. Its findings highlighted the importance of the horse socially, economically and culturally to Travellers in Kerry. With the support of Partnership Tra Li an application for funding for technical assistance was submitted to the National Social Economy Programme in 2001. A feasibility study on the development of a Horse Project for Tralee was carried out. Representatives from agencies that were identified as having a key role in a possible Traveller Horse Group were brought together and a steering committee was formed.
The group is made up of horse owners along with members of KTHCDP, Tralee Town Council, Kerry County Council, FAS and An Garda Siochanna. They continued to meet and in 2004 land was secured from Tralee Town Council. Twenty-two acres on the Dingle Road (previously a landfill site) was to be the location of the Project.
In July 2004 the first of the horses were microchipped and put on the land. Rules around the use of the land etc. were drawn up by the Steering Committee and the horse owners signed off on them.
The development of the site continued and in late 2008, eight stables were constructed on the site and fencing and a concrete yard were put in place. Funding was received through a grant sought by Tralee Town Council which enabled this to happen.
At present there are eight Traveller men with horses stabled on the site. The men are very active in the running of the stables. In late 2011 paddocks were fenced off and some necessary repairs were carried out. Fertilizing of the land is currently being planned.
The funding for the running of the stables is covered by the horse owners with two payment levels – grazing only or stables / grazing. This is paid in quarterly instalments and covers the insurance, waste disposal, auditor fees and general upkeep of the stables. The feeding and upkeep of the horses is the responsibility of the owners.
Kerry Travellers Health & Community Development Project look after the administration of the project. The day to day upkeep of the stables is performed by the horse owners while the management / supervision of the stables is carried out by a Council staff member.
A horse welfare course from a Farriers perspective is planned for 2012 through funding received from the Solidarity Trust, Cork.