National Racehorse Week: An industry that is still sending its horses to slaughter

Posted on the 5th September 2022

As the racing industry gears up to its self-promoting initiative, National Racehorse Week (10-18 September 2022), Animal Aid can reveal that race horses are still being slaughtered for their meat.

In July 2021, BBC One’s Panorama programme, entitled The Dark Side of Horse Racing, exclusively showed footage obtained by Animal Aid’s undercover team, from inside a horse abattoir in Wiltshire. Panorama’s researchers were also able to discover that race horses – some of whom, like Vyta Du Roc, had had prestigious careers – were slaughtered for their meat.

The programme prompted a rule change by the British Horseracing Authority that meant that any horses running in GB would have to be signed out of the food chain.[1]

However, the racing industries in Great Britain (GB) and Ireland have failed to take responsibility for the crux of the problem: the huge and unregulated overproduction of race horses in GB and Ireland. Animal Aid has discovered, via Freedom of Information requests to the Food Standards Agency and to the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine in Ireland, that horses from the racing industry are still being slaughtered for their meat in GB and Ireland.

In 2021, a total of 2,217 horses were slaughtered in England and Ireland. Of those victims, 1,210 (55%) held passports from the racing industry. Figures from 2022 show that horses from the racing industry are still being sent to the abattoir.

Urgent: Please write to your MP about horse slaughter

Animal Aid has released the figures to show that the racing industry is falling far short of its claims that: ‘From foal to racehorse to a career after racing, every step is managed, and each horse treated with its own carefully constructed programme by a team of dedicated individuals.[2] and ‘National Racehorse Week is a nationwide annual celebration of the racehorse and a chance to see first-hand the love, care and attention that goes into looking after them.[3]

Says Dene Stansall, Horse Racing Consultant, Animal Aid:

National Racehorse Week is just another example of a blinkered industry that wants to believe that all is well, whilst wilfully ignoring its failure to look after the welfare of the horses it uses to make a profit.

‘From the industrial, unregulated overproduction of foals, to the beating of horses with a whip, to the 200 on-course deaths in Britain every year, to the poor provision for horses once they are of no further use, to the slaughter of horses for their meat, this industry is an appalling, self-gratifying mess, and horses are paying the price for it. 

‘The government needs to urgently step in, remove racing’s self-regulatory status and force the industry to be accountable for every, single horse they produce.’

Watch Animal Aid's undercover horse slaughter investigation

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/58827492

[2] https://nationalracehorseweek.uk/

[3] https://nationalracehorseweek.uk/about/

Read the article on our findings in the Irish Sun

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