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Learning English - Words in the News
07 November, 2008 - Published 13:43 GMT
Horse owners hit by downturn
Race horse

In the UK, a charity that houses unwanted horses says it is being inundated with calls from equestrians who can no longer afford to keep their horses. The Horse Trust has received 640 requests to retire horses in the past month. Mark Worthington reports:

Listen to the story

Far from the city, an empty paddock and nothing but memories. After 15 years Shelagh Ball was forced to say goodbye to her beloved horse. This is what happens when the downturn starts to bite.

The reason I've had to give up Fred is economics. Solely and purely economics. And the effect it's had on me is devastating. I mean I… just heartbreaking. I love that horse and if I could afford to keep him, I would for the rest of his life. But I can't.

Shelagh isn't alone. Horse charities say record numbers are struggling to pay the bills. First came huge rises in costs - the price of feed doubled. Now there is less money around to pay for it all, and that's hitting businesses too. Garron Baines had already given up one horse through sickness. Now he's shutting down his horse-trekking company, meaning six more need new homes.

The horse business, or the horse leisure riding has fallen off the cliff in the last few weeks as people have looked at their household budgets and decided that it's too expensive to go horse-riding. And at the same time costs have been mounting significantly over the last year.

It all means more work for those who care for unwanted animals. But charities fear this is only the beginning and that donations may begin to dry up just as huge numbers of horses need their help.

Mark Worthington, BBC

Listen to the words

a small area of land where animals, especially horses, are kept

the downturn starts to bite
the economic slowdown begins to have a negative effect

Solely and purely
only, nothing but, nothing other than

could afford
had enough money to

struggling to pay
here, having difficulty paying, not having enough money to easily pay

damaging, having a bad effect on, affecting negatively

horse-trekking company
a company where people can pay to hire a horse and go horse-riding for pleasure across a natural terrain

fallen off the cliff
suddenly become a lot less popular, shrunk in demand

mounting significantly
growing greatly

donations may begin to dry up
people may begin to give less money, or no money at all to charities

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