The romantic notion that horse owning is elite, prestigious and all glory could not be further from the truth. It is hard work and takes dedication and is a seemingly bottomless pit for unforeseen expenses and long, gruelling hours of toil.
Horses get into your blood like no other animal. Their presence, posture, individual character and innate strength are just amazing. They are predictable in their unpredictability which keeps us on our toes. When you get it right it is simply the most wonderful relationship between a human and an animal. With a partnership based on trust, you can jump the moon together, figurately speaking. Sadly, a lot of things can go wrong and there are so many pitfalls. Running horses on a shoe string cannot work and yet so many people attempt to do exactly that. Inevitably it is the horse who suffers.
We have a crisis in the UK. It goes mostly unseen. It only appears to comes to the fore when images on social media show emaciated, discarded horses found roaming waste land. More and more we are seeing carcasses of emaciated horses and ponies dumped on farm land or in rivers, UK wide. One dreads to think of the months or years of suffering these animals have endured before death took their pain away. None are ever identifiable to a specific owner because they are not microchipped as the law dictates they should be.
The indiscriminate breeding of coloured cobs across England, is the biggest group of unfortunates to fall into this horrendous category, followed closely by the no-longer useful racehorse Thoroughbred. These two groups of breeds are feeding our enormous live horse meat trade to the continent. They fill our scummy sales rings and inevitably most end up wending their way abroad to an un-regulated death. Such a pity Salami is so popular- if only you knew the truth!
Sadly, there has also been a huge increase in unlicensed and unlawful back street slaughter houses across the UK, providing Halal killed horse, sheep and goat meat to an ever- increasing market. We, in the industry hear of all this through our industry publications, it never reaches the greater population in main stream news. Why is that?
Due to Governmental cutbacks, we no longer have a strong, proactive, fully functioning Trading Standards Agency, which should be overseeing obedience to the laws of Equine Identity and Pass porting. I have copied and pasted the following:- The owner of an equine (horse, pony or donkey) has specific legal responsibilities under the Horse Passport Regulations 2009. Failure to comply may mean that the local authority (usually Trading Standards) takes enforcement action. The maximum penalty for each offence is £5000, two year’s imprisonment or both. Remember it is the responsibility of the owner to apply for a passport and that it is an offence not to have a veterinarian microchip a foal prior to applying for a passport and it is an offence to apply for a passport from an authorised Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) after the equine is 6 months old or after the 31st of December of the year of birth whichever is the later. If a horse already has a passport it is illegal to apply for another passport.
The reality is that this whole law thing is a joke, flaunted by many and no one in the position to oversee or enforce. Horrendous cruelty and suffering goes on unchecked and our beleaguered RSPCA and other Equine Welfare organisations have absolutely no power in law. The local councils have no money to “squander” on Horse welfare or fly grazing. My local one has seemingly washed their hands of it completely.
Interestingly, the Government is in the process of reading a new bill of rights for “Animal Sentiency”. If passed it will give all animals recognition in law, to have the ability of feeling pain, stress, joy, grief, of making strong social bonds and that they are capable of suffering on an emotional level. It will increase the sentencing on cruelty convictions from 6 months to 5 years.
This would be an absolutely massive step forward in animal welfare in the UK.
I am not holding my breath though as it would shake up most animal farming practices, all live transport of animals to the EU for slaughter, lead to a ban on all non-stun slaughter practices and that would be so inconvenient to the powers that be.