1,428 Race Horses Sent to Slaughter in Ireland in 2023

Posted on the 23rd February 2024

Shocking new evidence reveals 1,428 race horses were killed in a slaughterhouse in Ireland in 2023 – as stated by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine following a question by Paul Murphy TD.

This figure is a 36% increase from 2022: yet further confirmation that the racing industry’s claims that “the horse is ensured the highest standards of care” [John Osbourne, the director of equine and bloodstock at Horse Racing Ireland’] are simply empty rhetoric.

Following Animal Aid’s investigation into horse slaughter and subsequent Panorama documentary, officials from both the British and Irish horse racing industries made promises of increased traceability of racehorses from birth to death.

In reality, there has been no meaningful change, leaving the thousands of foals who are born into the racing industry each year vulnerable to an uncertain future. An unknown number will be killed in their yards because their best wasn’t deemed good enough; others will be sold from person to person in a downwards spiral of exploitation and neglect; hundreds will die whilst being whipped to the finish-line on a racecourse and thousands, as seen by this latest figure, will spend their last moments alive suffering in a slaughterhouse.

a race horse in a slaughterhouse

High Expectations, an irish race horse found in a slaughterhouse in England in BBC Panorama's The Dark Side of Horse racing.

Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant Dene Stansall summarised the key issues associated with this horrifying new figure as:

Unregulated breeding; leading to oversupply of race horses both within and outside the industry: lack of provision for the horses leaving racing; self-regulation of welfare by the HRI and IHRB failing horses; and a lack of political will to deal with this welfare issue despite past experience of the major collapse of the breeding population over a decade ago that started slaughter as an acceptable method of dealing with an issue the industry brought on itself. All this supported by the Irish public’s tax money.

Thank you to Irish campaign group Ban Blood Sports for first publishing the 2023 figures.

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