As Winter Descends On War-Torn Ukraine, Equine Charity Seeks Funds For Hay And Blankets

Dec 29, 2022 - 3:44 PM

It’s now been more than 10 months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Amid almost incomprehensible hardship and destruction, the Ukrainians who remain in the country (14 million are estimated to have fled) continue trying to survive and maintain some semblance of normalcy. For some, that includes continuing to look after their horses.

But as winter descends, the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating rapidly. Ukrainian officials estimate that 50% of energy infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian missile attacks. For many Ukrainians, blackouts, shortages of water, disruption of heat supply and problems with connectivity have become an everyday reality. The first snows have fallen and the temperature mostly remains below freezing. Sunset is around 4 p.m.

“After sunset the cities and towns are draped in darkness. Blackouts are tiring mentally, making everyday normal activities and their planning impossible,” said Mykhaylo Parkhomchuk, founder of the Ukrainian Equestrian Charity Foundation (UE-CF). “[The] energy crisis directly impacts our operational capacity in Ukraine. Because of constant blackouts we had to postpone the production of the humanitarian compound feed for the Ukrainian equines. There have been delays in logistics and distribution of hay.”

For horse owners, this means more difficulties and troubles. Stables are looking for generators to be able to produce electricity during blackouts and water buckets to create and store an emergency water supply. Horse owners are asking in addition to hay and feed also for blankets to keep horses warm. Before the war, putting a blanket over a horse during winter was not very common in Ukraine. During the times of feed insecurity, blankets became essential to lower the feed expenses. During the winter, horses need more feed to produce the body heat—blankets help keep them warm and help lower the feed consumption and feeding costs throughout the cold season.

“In October we distributed more than 200 rugs to four regions in Ukraine. Another nearly 300 rugs donated to us by the British Equestrians for Ukraine and private donors from Belgium, Germany, France, UK and other countries are already in Lviv being prepared for distribution, and around 1,000 rugs collected by the Equus Caballus Rescue Foundation from Sweden on their way to Ukraine,” said Parkhomchuk. “This is a significant help to horses. Nevertheless the demand for hay and feed remains very large and distribution of hay support will remain our primary focus for the forthcoming months. We started to outreach the liberated part of the Kherson region to collect information on the number of equines, situation with hay and feed supplies and possibilities to bring humanitarian aid there.”

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A horse in Mykolaiv poses with a donated blanket. Photo Courtesy of Ukrainian Equestrian Charity Foundation Facebook page

Together with the help of donors and hundreds of volunteers, the UE-CF has prepared a five-step action plan to support the welfare of equines in Ukraine over the winter:

• Distribution of humanitarian aid to regions most affected by the war, with primary focus on hay supplies

• On-demand help with relocation of horses to safer regions and regions with better supplies

• Distribution of blankets and other stabling equipment

• Providing a free of charge all-inclusive shelter for horses relocated from dangerous and deprived regions

• Readiness to relocate horses and offer them shelter stabling in emergency situations

The UE-CF will continue supporting the Ukrainian equestrians acknowledging that the most difficult times are still ahead. The UE-CF invites riders, equestrian clubs, sports organizations, horse welfare organizations to unite and to come out with a renewed pledge of solidarity with Ukraine and Ukraine´s equestrian community to help survive during the cold and dark winter.

In-kind donations are being accepted from countries within the European Union and distributed from the UE-CF’s humanitarian hub in Poland, but financial contributions are being accepted from anywhere. Visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/en/donate/ or follow UE-CF on Facebook.

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