Queens Horse. Royal Mews image.

All the Queen’s horses. Where do they go?

Michael Clayton, reporting for the Horse and Hound writes:

Some 250 horses used by the Army in ceremonial duties in London have been enjoying an unscheduled holiday at grass in Leicestershire owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

They have been given their new home by Geoff Brooks and his son, Richard, who farm some 1,600 acres north of Melton Mowbray. They keep most of their the land down to grass to make Eurobale haylage. The horses normally work all summer from the Household Cavalry stables at Knightsbridge or the King’s Troop base at Woolwich.

Image by Geoff Brooks.

“We have been regularly taking some Army horses as guests from London in the winter,”said Geoff. “But this year, very soon after they had been returned to London, we received an urgent request to take them back for the summer as well. It is due to the cancellation of the horses’ ceremonial duties at the Trooping the Colour and other events, due to the virus. A few have been retained in London in case they are needed suddenly.

This is so lovely isn’t it?

But before we start feeling all warm and fuzzy, there is another story about the Queen’s horses. It dates back to 1969 when Army horses were routinely sent to slaughter, of the self same Household Cavalry.

Over-age horses from the Household Cavalry were sold to slaughterhouses. Credit: International Herald Tribune

The New York Times reported on it last November:

1969: Queen’s Horses Sold for Slaughter

Britain’s most famous ceremonial horses — those majestic steeds that carry the queen’s splendidly uniformed bodyguards — may be winding up as steaks in Continental restaurants.

A disclosure today that the Household Cavalry is selling its old horses to slaughterhouses aroused the fury of British animal lovers. The horses, ridden by troops and gold-trimmed trumpeters in plumed helmets, are feature attractions in the Changing of the Guard, coronations and all state processions.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman confirmed reports that some over-age Household Cavalry horses were being sold for slaughter. Few Britons would ever knowingly eat horsemeat, but it is a common dish on the Continent and that is where the carcasses are believed to go.

Top officials at the Ministry of Defense called an emergency meeting this morning to deal with the report, which began with a front-page headline in the Daily Mirror saying, “Queen’s Horses to Be Sold for Meat.”

Buckingham Palace kept aloof from the fray. A spokesman for Queen Elizabeth II said only: “It has nothing to do with us — it is an army matter.”

The Mirror said about 60 horses a year were retired from the Household Cavalry and from the Royal Horse Artillery.

Bloodthirsty crowd

That was then, this is now . . . . right? We are not convinced. Those who follow the Royal Family know they are a bloodthirsty crowd. They hold Shooting Parties in Scotland every year at which time they stalk and murder untold numbers of animals which are by all reports a full scale massacre.

These are the same hunts that revolted the late Princess of Wales who finally quit going, much to the consternation and disapproval of the Royal Family, and it said a contributing factor to her already crumbling marriage to Prince Charles. The Queen is quoted as saying, “Why can’t she just “buck up”?

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and heir to the British throne after Charles, stalks and shoots along with his father. His wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, also went hunting with her husband early in their relationship, but found it so revolting she followed in the footsteps of Princess Diana and bolted.

Prince Harry also made an attempt to join in. However, when he took up with Meghan Markle he was highly criticized by the Daily Beast in December 2017 calling him a “hunting hypocrite” and challenging him with, “The prince is engaged to a woman who has spoken out about animal cruelty and owns two rescue dogs. So why is he killing animals for fun?” This gave him the excuse he needed to exit the killing.

Speaking of Princes William and Harry reminds us of when the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, took the “boys” stalking to get their mind off things after they were told of their mother Princess Diana’s tragic death. Stalking? Really? That’s how you chose to console those grief stricken boys? With more killing and blood? We digress.

We must not neglect Camilla who loves horses and is an exceptional horse woman. It is said she does not take part in the annual mass massacre called the Royal Shooting Party. However, the Duchess of Cornwall is hardly averse to blood sport as she rides to hound (fox hunts) and reportedly revels in the kill at the end which she makes certain is reserved for her.

From the above, I don’t think we can make a case that any of the high ranking Royals would be against horse slaughter and could care less about how horses no longer required or no longer perform their duties are, shall we say, “dispatched”.

Are royal horses still being sent to slaughter?

So, are the Queen’s minions still sending royal horses to slaughter? Yes, we are told that they are. After telephone calls to several Army barracks most admitted that “some of these horses” are sent to a local abattoir. However, they would not disclose where, the name or how many. Later we received a call back where one tried to backtrack saying they, “had made a mistake” and “misunderstood the question.”

By the way, wasn’t it the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne who not so many years ago said that the country needed more horse slaughterhouses, not fewer?

The Princess Royal is also infamously quoted as saying that horse owners might take better care of horses if they believed they could sell them for meat, for which she was publicly savaged by animal lovers. How about this? Princess Anne even suggested that Britons should add horse meat to their diets.

She has calmed down on the subject quite a bit since then. Later, speaking at a yet another conference of the World Horse Welfare charity, the princess, who is president of the organisation, said: “Our attitudes to the horsemeat trade and the value of horsemeat may have to change.”

Just a little warning. Beware of “welfarist” organizations when it comes to animal protection. The only way to get rid of animal cruelty is to abolish the practices that lead to it, not try to make it so animals don’t “suffer as much”, as if that somehow mitigates the abuse.

Where and how many are slaughtered?

It is difficult to track how many horses are exported from the UK for the purposes of slaughter or killed in abattoirs on home soil. All anyone seems to have is an estimated figure but the horse’s destination or breed type is not recorded. Huh? The UK has a passport system for this very purpose — to track horses in and out of the country — so what happened?

World Horse Welfare, a UK charity, stated in 2017:

“There have been no declarations of horses being exported for slaughter for many years; however, we question the reality of this as horses and ponies are exported for a variety of reasons and there is no way to guarantee that a horse declared as being exported for riding will not be sold at a market for meat. Until there is full traceability within and without the UK it is a challenge to truly know where exported horses end up and it would be difficult to enforce a ban on export to slaughter.”

“Our priority is to ensure that equines are slaughtered as close to origin as possible, so it may be that a maximum journey limit of 9-12 hours better protects the welfare of horses going to slaughter, as opposed to a ban on export at this current time.”

Perfect example of welfarism.

A racehorse owned by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that won the prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year (center) has tested positive for the banned painkiller, morphine.

This is not just about ceremonial horses of course.

HM The Queen is a major breeder and player worldwide in the Thoroughbred racing industry. It seems HM’s own trainers are not above doping now which they wouldn’t dare do without her knowing. Shameful.

In the meantime, we have petitioned the UK Government directly for horse slaughter statistics. They politely responded, “we will try but we are not sure we how much we can help you.” A slammed door is a slammed door no matter who does it and how nice they are about it when doing it. We will have to wait and see. Hope springs eternal . . . right? Sigh.

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Horse Slaughter UK »


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Images updated 27 May 20, 5:27pm

4 thoughts on “All the Queen’s horses. Where do they go?”

    1. Throwaways by the rich and not so rich. In most heartbreaking and appalling way. Doesn’t seem to matter. These horses didn’t just show up. For the most part they are purpose bred. Shame on the human race. We would have nothing without the horse. Still be in caves.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It doesn’t seem like we have come very far, does it? One of the earliest examples of cave man “art” features a man, a woman and a horse. Scientists say horses were about the size of a large modern age dog. I suppose they ate him.

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