Horse Welfare Crisis Update

We were interested to read news online last week, that HRH The Princess Royal had raised the issue of whether creating a market for horsemeat was viable to help address the issues of horse welfare. The discussion took place at the World Horse Welfare’s centre in Lancashire, as reported by Stackyard.com.

“Should we be considering a real market for horse meat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value in the horse meat sector? I think it needs a debate.”

In the context of this discussion, The Princess was suggesting how some people, who pay scant regard to the welfare of their horses, or those who are struggling financially, might be encouraged to take better care of their horses if they considered their meat value.

In our opinion, this could only fuel the problem, as it would create a market for the sale and purchase of horsemeat. We suspect that we would have more meat than we could deal with, due to the sheer volume of horses and, not only that, but we would probably see unscrupulous dealers breeding specifically for the market, and many elderly horses who have spent their lives doing their best for their humans would find themselves butchered. Similarly those involved in breeding for the meat trade are invariably not holding or maintaining passports for these animals thus creating a risk to public health.

We accept there may well be a need for a cull of the horses we have in this country. At present, there are far in excess of 7,000 horses at risk and the welfare organisations just cannot cope with the amount. Any time now, all of the mares will foal, almost doubling the problem and next year the mares will foal yet again. Where will we be then? Surely it has to be better that these animals are put to sleep with dignity, rather than being left as they have been this year to starve and die alone in fields.

There needs to be a debate about what we are going to do about the horse welfare crisis and there needs to be a much more proactive response from the Government, who at present are just burying their heads in the sand.

At Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary, we would welcome further discussion on this subject.

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