Horses are no longer being evacuated from Ukraine, with the focus now more on their well-being and relocating them to safer areas within the war-torn country.
The Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation (UEF-CF) said this week that the huge demand for evacuation out of Ukraine in the first couple of months of the Russian invasion had almost stopped.
During that time it assisted in the evacuation of more than 250 horses to Poland, but now there are just a few horses waiting in the electronic queue for evacuation, and the evacuation stable in Lesla Wola is being closed.
“During the last few weeks the war has localized in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine and the relocation trend has reversed – people want to return home and sometimes trucks that were moving horses to the evacuation stables in western Ukraine deliver horses back to the eastern regions,” the foundation said.
“Having helped more than 160 stables all over Ukraine and talked to the refugees, UEF-CF is very aware that owners want their horses to be home, even if their stables and homes have been destroyed or they have little money to feed them, they still prefer to have them home. As equestrians ourselves, we can understand their depth of feeling.”
UEF-CF founder Mykhailo Parkhomchuch said horses were being relocated within Ukraine from dangerous areas such as Kramatorsk and Lysychansk, and with the help of the FEI, was providing free and safe shelter in western Ukraine.
“This is all funded by donations coming in from all around the world and we really appreciate every dollar or euro from people and all the lorries of food and bedding from various organizations. This allows us to help more than 3500 horses, because their owners don’t have the ability to feed them. They lost everything – their homes, jobs, and dreams, but managed to save their horses. And our goal is to help them during the time they need to recover.”
Before the war, there were about 100,000 horses in Ukraine, but the current numbers are unknown. Some have been displaced, some were killed in Russian attacks, some died from hunger or injuries, and some were lost, or stolen by Russians. But those who remained needed help as the economy had crashed, Parkhomchuch said, and by the end of the summer estimated more than 5000 horses will need help.
The foundation is currently taking care of about 3500 horses in Ukraine, and providing feed and bedding to 150 stables and equestrian clubs of all sizes, but it was all dependent on donations.
Taisia Stadnichenko, who heads the Ukrainian operations of the UEF-CF, said the foundation was covering about 20% of what was needed, and had distributed more than 800 tons of feed and bedding around Ukraine.
“It’s about 90% of all equestrian humanitarian aid that was delivered in Ukraine. Now we are trying to cooperate with all charity organizations that help Ukrainian equestrians to avoid doubling up help and to cover as many stables as we can.”