Thousands of ex-racehorses being sent to abattoirs, BBC investigation claims

Panorama programme to be broadcast on Monday night
Animal rights group planted cameras in slaughterhouse

THE GUARDIAN / 19th July 2021

An investigation for BBC1’s Panorama, to be broadcast on Monday evening, will claim that “thousands” of ex-racehorses – “most, but not all” of which were previously in training in Ireland – are being sent for slaughter in British abattoirs every year.

The programme, titled The Dark Side Of Horse Racing, is based on footage supplied by the animal rights group Animal Aid, which campaigns for an outright ban on horse racing and an end to the slaughter of animals for food. The group planted cameras in an abattoir run by F Drury & Sons, which is licensed to slaughter horses, and claims to have captured “dozens of former racehorses being slaughtered, the majority from Ireland”.

These included three horses that were previously in the care of leading trainer Gordon Elliott, who is currently banned from racing after being pictured sitting on a dead horse on his gallops.

Elliott tells the programme that “none of those animals were sent by me to the abattoir”, while also saying that two — High Expectations and Kiss Me Kayf — were sent to a horse dealer “to be rehomed if possible, and if not, to be humanely euthanised in line with the regulations”. Elliott also says that a third horse had been “given to another rider as requested by its owner” and that he had only learned that it had gone for slaughter in England when contacted by the programme-makers.

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Horse racing is an extremely profitable sport, a £5 billion industry in the UK and Ireland followed by millions. —BBC

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The programme also claims to reveal serious breaches of regulations for humane slaughter at the abattoir, including “91 occasions when the cameras recorded a slaughter-man shooting horses, not close up, but from yards away”.

Professor Daniel Mills, a specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln, tells the programme that “it doesn’t look like the horse is even stunned. You can see it him turning its his head. It He seems to have got some control actually over its his head and neck. “Taking a shot from a distance at a horse, to me, that’s completely out of order. If you’re going to euthanise a horse, you’ve got to get a bullet in the right place. If that’s representative of how they’re being killed, then we’ve got a really serious problem,” he added.

The investigation also suggests that “many of the racehorses killed while Animal Aid cameras filmed had been transported from Ireland, travelling more than 350 miles by road and sea”, including some which were “carrying career-ending injuries”. It further claims that on at least 26 occasions, horses at the abattoir were killed within sight of each other, another breach of the regulations concerning slaughter.

In all, the investigation claims to have obtained figures showing that “at least 4,000 racehorses have been slaughtered in abattoirs” in the a two-year period since the start of 2019. These included horses which “had previous illustrious racing careers, winning thousands of pounds, and were associated with some of the biggest names in Irish racing.” 

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Horses are not “its”

Horses are not “its”. Inanimate objects are “its”. Horses, like all animals, are living, breathing, feeling, sentient beings and should be respectfully addressed as such. We should use the words he, she, his, her and so on. Thank you.

UK viewers only

It is now posted for internet viewers on »

Not available outside the UK. We will let you know when they post it on YouTube for everyone.

In the meantime you can view the one below from Australia. It seems slaughter is the preferred means of getting rid of unwanted racehorses around the world. It is horrific; unconscionable. And it is not going anywhere.

As long as there is horse racing there will be racehorse slaughter. What about the drugs racehorses are routinely given? Many are potentially carcinogenic and banned from entering the human food chain. Horse racing could care less. It has no more concern for you than they do its horses.

Horse racing Australia

Warning: Graphic.

A 2019 Special Report. Slaughtering racehorses is not illegal in Australia. But it is against the rules of Racing NSW, which stipulate that retired racehorses must be rehomed, not sent for slaughter.

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Horse racing USA

Warning: Graphic.

In Oct 2013, it was estimated that around 7,500 thoroughbreds a year were slaughtered for human consumption, stated Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Nothing has changed. If anything it is much, much worse.

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Featured Image: Irish Horse Welfare Trust. Updated 23 July 2021.


2 thoughts on “Thousands of ex-racehorses being sent to abattoirs, BBC investigation claims”

  1. Great comment Gina. Thank you. We are all still very distressed and bleary eyed around here. It is one thing to read about the slaughter of horses. It is quite another to see it. It is as gruesome and brutal as it is heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This dirty secret has been kept from the public for years.
    The never ending public relations message was that the racehorses go to grassy paddock is an outright lie.
    It’s such a relief that animal rights groups, animal advocates, and animal lovers are finally able to get the truth out to the public, but it was essential to provide the video coverage.
    For years, the horse racing industry has been denying this truth categorizing anybody who spoke the truth as an “extreme animal rights activist” who is just lying so that they can shut down the business.
    They can no longer point the finger at everybody else because now the finger is pointed squarely where it belongs: the multibillion dollar horse racing industry.
    The video, although difficult to watch, is the truth about the horrific horror show that racehorses endure.
    Racehorses are mere disposable gambling chips and this video clearly confirms that the slaughterhouse is their “forever grassy paddock,” that horse racing has claimed for years.
    Thanks to all the brave people who planted the undercover videos to dispel this myth.

    Liked by 2 people

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