….. and the Ugly….

The ugly are those to whom horses are a commodity and who seem to have forgotten these animals are sentient beings. The most culpable in the chain are some of the dealers and transporters, and unfortunately we witnessed abuse from nationalities across the board.

One of the Dutch dealers, who had been buying and selling all day, was riding a cremello Iberian type round bareback in a headcollar with a rope twisted through its mouth to give him control, in an attempt to sell. This horse had been hauled up from Spain either that day or the night before, and faced another long haul somewhere whatever his fate – changing the laws on TOTAL distance for live transport down to eight hours would stop this.

Once the animals are bought by the commercial butchers, they are either herded or led to the weight crushes, where the youngsters are chased through, and the led ones have their headcollars removed in the crush, and are then herded with sticks into the loading bay pens just like the foals.

For long haul trips (over eight hours) the welfare laws dictate that young /unhandled horses can be transported in same sex, same age groups of up to four. If they can wear a headcollar, they are classed as handled. Handled horses must be travelled partitioned separately. These were not.

We witnessed one commercial transporter load 12 heavy breed mixed sex foals and older handled horses loose onto the front half of an enormous articulated trailer, and cram them tightly in. The second half of the trailer had 10 older horses squashed in. All were handled, we’d watched them take the headcollars off as they left the weigh crush. At least two kicking matches occurred in both trailers, and at one point one of the horses in the first trailer went down.

Watching it happen, the stupidity of the process astounded us. If they had loaded these animals according to the regulations, the handlers’ task would have been so much easier and the horses would not have endured this unnecessary stress and panic that their rough handling caused.

This lorry was going to north east ITALY, a journey of at least 14 hours – changing the laws on TOTAL distance for live transport down to eight hours would stop this.

The most unspeakable sight of all was tiny little coloured ponies, about the size of large dogs. Over thirty of these little souls were crushed together in a couple of pens, and were dying on their feet. Most had eye infections, a couple were very lame, and all had given up. It looked as if they hadn’t been off the lorry for a long time. Once again, no respect was given to these animals as they were handled, to the dealer they were simply a few euros on legs.

From type and size and markings, we believe that these were Dartmoor hill ponies. The last UK sale from Dartmoor was on 14th of October, with ponies selling for around £2.50 each. The dealer at Maurs was asking for as much as 250€ each for them. That would very much make it a worthwhile trip for him.

We were surprised to see the Italian buyers in negotiation with the dealer. There is little or no meat value in these ponies, especially as they appeared to be starving, and are simply skin and bone on legs. We suspect their coat markings would hold value, with Italy being famous for skin and leather production.

These exhausted ponies face yet more misery and suffering before their final destination – changing the laws on TOTAL distance for live transport down to eight hours would stop this.

Please support us and allow us to continue to monitor these markets and press for changes to the law.



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  • louise whyte

    if you go to some of the worst uk sales you see much the same thing.

    it is just appalling but sadly the authorities who could enforce legislation don’t care, and until they do, no one does anything.

    • Louise Grierson

      Louise, I so agree with you, the handling at sales in the UK are also a disgrace with no apparent policing !! Louise Grierson

  • Cuffey

    Dr Madeleine Campbell for BEVA needs your evidence before this meeting of EU vets

    http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/303450.html

    The difference between a UK sale and this is the number of hours these ponies have already travelled from a UK sale to France where they do not appear to have been watered, hayed and rested ( lie down) and the number of hours they still have to travel to Italy

  • Karen

    This so has to stop, why cant they just sell the carcase, travel the horses to the nearest abatoir – a much shorter distance. End the long transport all together. I know many of the abatoirs are no better in their handling but anything to save the suffering. All the time horses are in the food chain you will not stop this, we can only try.

    • Cuffey

      There are only 2 horsemeat abattoirs in UK, unlike France where they are well spread across the country
      This is about money or the dealers/transporters would not bother and about too much pony breeding in the UK

  • Cat

    NO Just STOP people eating horses and ponies – don’t meat eaters have enough farmed meat for God’s sake and there is NO excuse for wearing/using skins when it can be sourced better from the side products of farmed animals killed locally – although personally can’t see why we can’t all live on tempeh..

  • Bellanulf

    In the last 45 years I have been protesting about these problems and it was always said to transport on the hook and not on the hoof. It has only got a lot worse than it ever was. When I was young we tirelessly campaigned for action to be taken but nothing has improved – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! WHY???? It is shocking and barbaric. I well remember some nightmares of seeing the crowded foreign horseboxes picking up all the horses and ponies from the sales and squashing them in to go abroad from the UK. At that time the authorities said they have no jurisdiction over what happens over the water !!! We know very well that France has no authority to even check or even be bothered with them as they are just horses for eating – so what !!!
    The poor things go in and come out ready done in a packet and you would never know it is horse.
    What about all the poor things that travel to Sardinia or Sicily? Many, many more hours. I believe nearly every butchers in these places sell horse meat. Please someone tell the pope that horses have souls..

  • Jadeykiss16

    This is discusting it needs to stop! horses are like people so why shouldnt they have respect like us?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Lee/1254926452 Thomas Lee

    The world is an evil place.. I’m so ashamed of it the way people continue to reward irresponsible people as they continue to abuse and neglect animals the only winners are the meat producers.

    Here in America we have stop the slaughter of horses, but we have not yet stopped the exports to Canada and Mexico , but we do plan on either haulting all slaughter in Canada or haulting the exports or both..

    Ive got to say you people overseas MUST continue to fight harder.. IF the market crashes there it crashes here too. While Canada and Mexico ships there its far better to stop the market there..

    Together we can stop this brutal business and make these criminals pay for there crimes.. The POPE needs to stand up and speak up for GODS wonderful creatures. The horse is a bibicial animal and must NOT be treated in this manner. Our website is http://www.SaveDaHorses.org Please keep us informed either by email or our facebook page which can be obtained from our website above.

    Please email us at phazzII@yahoo.com so we can fight this stronger and harder for the horses..

    Sincerely Tommy Lee