Before the economic downturn, many people in Ireland purchased expensive horses. But the financial crisis has quashed prosperity in the country, and many horses have now simply been let loose.An estimated 20,000 horses have been turned out so far. They can be seen roaming highways, major roadways, housing developments, parks and forests. Unkempt and emaciated, the horses are on the brink of starvation - and animal rights advocates are trying to save them. The lot includes Irish draft horses and Shetland ponies, but especially prime race horses previously sold for prices up to €30,000. But after the crisis broke, their owners couldn't afford to care for them any longer.