The chair of racing’s Horse Welfare Board has reacted with astonishment to Panorama’s evidence, broadcast on Monday night, that many ex-racehorses have been transported from Ireland to be killed in an abattoir near Swindon.
Barry Johnson, a former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, also deplored the evidence shown of poor practices at the abattoir that would lead to unnecessary suffering of the horses involved.
“Some of it is pretty damning of the slaughter industry,” Johnson said last night. “The main thing is with these horses from Ireland. We have a policy for the correct euthanasia of horses when it’s in their interests to be euthanised and it clearly states, done as near to where they are, their home, as possible.”
“This transporting from Ireland to England for slaughter, I can think of no reason why you would do it.” Referring to another allegation made by Panorama, he continued: “And travelling injured horses 350 miles is appalling. I just don’t understand that.”
“We need to have better traceability and we’re striving very hard to get that. We need to tighten up on our aftercare funding and we’ve done a report on that. Now we need to bring forward the changes necessary, to apply to the lifetime of the horse.”
“Beneath the glamour of horseracing, there lies a dark side,” said presenter Darragh MacIntyre, who called for the sport to ensure its participants were treated with ‘dignity and care’ after their racing days were over. The programme included distressing images of horses about to be killed at the abattoir of Drury & Sons as well as allegations they had come from the yards of high-profile trainers, including Gordon Elliott and Gavin Cromwell, who were named.”
Mary Frances of the Moorcroft Rehabilitation Centre was shown, speaking of the funding difficulties faced by her business. “Sadly, so many of them come to us with injuries and ailments that need time and without a doubt a large amount of funding,” she told Panorama. “There is money available but there doesn’t seem to be the understanding or the desire to put the money where it is needed.”
How is it that anyone who works in or around horse racing can possibly be “astonished” that racehorses are sent to slaughter, particularly the chair of racing’s Horse Welfare Board? Come on.
Little doubt there will be much public hand wringing over the next few weeks, perhaps even months, but what, if anything, will change? Racehorses are being slaughtered at this very moment, and likely they will continue to be.
Have you noticed this? Yes, we know the Panorama programme only just aired last night, but people knew what was coming. Example. How is it that there has not been a single call from anyone within the racing fraternity to suspend owners or trainers caught sending their horses to slaughter, no matter who delivers them there? It would not eradicate it all, but it would be a major step.
Here is another idea. Horse racing is an extremely profitable sport, a £5 billion industry in the UK and Ireland followed by millions. Say 10p from every pound bet could be taken and put toward racehorse aftercare. This is hardly a revolutionary idea probably presented already, but got nowhere. As Mary Frances states, “There is money available but there doesn’t seem to be the understanding or the desire to put the money where it is needed.”
To many of us here, we say ban horse racing. It has gone on for hundreds of years. We feel its day is done in a modern society which has higher sensibilities and an increasingly raised awareness concerning cruelty to animals. Racing is not only cruel — it is deadly to horses.
Tuesday’s Horse © Fund for Horses
Featured Image: Barry Barry Johnson, Chair of the Horse Welfare Board , Britian