Ingatestone, Essex – Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary in Essex, is calling on Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to abolish any further thoughts of creating a market for horsemeat and to right the wrongs of the current horse welfare legislation. In July 2014, Sue met with Lord DeMauley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, at Westminster to discuss the equine welfare crisis that exists in this country. Some months later, Sue received a formal response to that meeting, whilst the situation continues to escalate and horses continue to be dumped anywhere and everywhere.

The letter from Douglas Potter, Defra – Customer Contact Unit, states, “Human slaughter for human consumption provides a practical option for the disposal of older, unsaleable or unwanted horses. Most welfare charities are supportive of legitimate slaughter as a means of reducing the number of cases of abandonment and other welfare incidents”.

In response to this statement, Sue says, “I am absolutely stunned that Defra can actually be putting this forward as a viable option and that other welfare organisations are sanctioning it. We need to be reducing the number of horses in this country in order to improve the welfare crisis, not breeding them for consumption, thereby worsening the situation.”

There are over 1.35 million horses in the UK with the largest proportion in the South East. Undeniably, many of these horses live a much loved and pampered life, but sadly there is still much cruelty and suffering, including Travellers’ horses, which are often tethered without food or water, either in sub-zero temperatures or searing heat, old horses left in fields in poor condition, malnourished foals and cases of cruelty just through ignorance. Sue explains that she has spoken to various Travellers over the last week who have said that they are reducing their numbers due to the lack of financial return. One individual said he was taking the stallion away from the mares.

“This is what we have always needed”, says Sue, “for the Travelling community to start reducing the number of horses. But now we’re talking about opening up a market that is going to increase demand, lead to more horses being bred, used as breeding machines, and allowed to suffer. And their offspring can be slaughtered for an industry that is already struggling. This just seems madness to me!”

Sue further explains that the letter states, “”It is an offence for any person to own a domesticated adult horse which is not properly identified”, yet we know that many people including most of those within the Travelling Community do not have passports. We also know that no one will do anything about it. It states that, “you should note that in 2012 Defra approved The Traditional Gypsy Cob Association to issue passports”. This means nothing, as most of these horses do not have passports, and the welfare organisations are required to pay for microchipping and passports every time we step in and help a Traveller’s horse.”

Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary is putting together a Lobby Group to further raise awareness of the horse welfare crisis in this country and to put pressure on the government. Individuals wishing to receive further information can register here:

For further information, visit or contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191.

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