Trustees of a Tyrone cancer charity are carrying out an investigation following a social media storm over the way horses were treated in a fundraising event.
The charity hack in Greencastle last weekend is being investigated by Animal Welfare officers and Department of Agriculture staff after images were posted on Facebook of horses jumping across an old car with glass still in the windows.
The event is said to have been organised by Mountain View Equestrian to raise money for Charis Cancer Care in Cookstown, which offers complementary therapies for cancer patients.
The event organiser has since claimed on Facebook that the car jump was not intended to be used on the day of the event, but was a joke posted to get people interested.
“A few riders deviated from the ride to jump it rather than the intended jump 10 metres away from it,” she said. “I did not tell or force anyone to jump it. A rider has been threatened which is absolutely ridiculous to put anyone through this. All threats have been saved. It is absolutely disgraceful the way this has been handled, with a lot of illegal copyright going on and bitching. Before anyone starts making any more accusations please make sure you have the right story because there is a lot of stories going around. No horse or no rider was seriously injured.”
However, a week before the hack took place, the organiser posted an image of the car in a ditch between pallets lodged on their edge, apparently intended to drive the horses towards the roof.
At the time she wrote: “I can’t keep surprises. This is our surprise jump for this year’s charity ride, not quite finished yet but already looking scary. RIP little 206 you served me well.”
The car alleged to have been made into the jump was a Peugeot 206 model.
Last night, Charis Cancer Care told the Belfast Telegraph that none of the trustees had been aware of the fundraiser taking place.
Chairman John McLaughlin said: “I am in receipt of emails which the staff have forwarded to me regarding the fundraising event in Greencastle. I am advised that the organiser of this event has in the past raised lots of money for various charities. In fairness to them, I do not wish to comment until we have investigated the matter and ascertained the facts in full.”
The Belfast Telegraph has been told that the horses were made to jump dangerous obstacles including the car with the windscreen and windows still in it.
Pictures taken at the event appear to show horses jumping over the battered car with their hooves protruding into the body of the vehicle and through window trim as shattered glass flies round their legs.
A complaint made to Animal Welfare officers read: “From these pictures, some of these animals are clearly not fit enough to be partaking in any jumping activities, ridden by people who had no regard for the safety of them and someone could have been killed.
“A friend of mine personally attended this hack in the thought of it being for a good cause for charity and was utterly shocked at what she witnessed, advising many horses were beaten to make them go over the jump and then left the field with many injuries. One particular horse left with the skin from his chest between his legs torn and hanging off and in considerable pain.”
The Belfast Telegraph has sent a number of messages to the organiser but has received no reply.