2014-04-09   facebook twitter rss

Should we be Considering a Real Market for Horse Meat?

The Princess Royal speaks out on addressing the horse crisis at World Horse Welfare’s centre in Lancashire and rounds-up her views on Countryfile.

At an event that would highlight British horses’ current plight which sees at least 7,000 of them at risk of neglect or abandonment, HRH The Princess Royal spoke of the need to rehome rescue horses – just as she did last Autumn when she rehomed World Horse Welfare ‘Annie’.

HRH The Princess Royal visiting World Horse Welfare

HRH The Princess Royal visiting World Horse Welfare - credit World Horse Welfare

The many guests that attended the event at World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Blackpool listened to The Princess highlighting the need for organisations like World Horse Welfare, who make such a positive impact on local communities and care for the most needy horses in Britain and across the world. The charity took in 76% more horses in 2013 compared to the year before – and the demand shows no signs of letting up – so much so that one of the reasons The Princess decided to visit the centre was to see the new intake system recently installed there to help the charity cope with the rising number of horses that need to be rescued in groups of 20+ who are largely unhandled.

Horses are found every single day by the charity abandoned or suffering, and right now many major welfare charities are full to bursting making it a real struggle to take many more horses in.

At a time where horses can be bought for £5 at some markets, when it is difficult to even give a horse away, and years’ of economic crisis continue to cripple many families - The Princess Royal made some practical suggestions of her own on how the issue might be addressed.

Boldly, The Princess asked last November at World Horse Welfare’s conference - the theme focusing on the future of horse welfare:

“Should we be considering a real market for horse meat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value in the horse meat sector? I think it needs a debate.”

Said in the context of this discussion, The Princess was suggesting how some people, who pay scant regard to the welfare of their horses, or those who are struggling financially, might be encouraged to take better care of their horses if they considered their meat value. It’s a sad and desperate time when we need to be thinking of drastic measures to stop the great number of horses that are currently at risk of suffering or death.

On Sunday 6th April The Princess revisited her views on the horse crisis on BBC’s Countryfile, discussing what might be done to improve the way that horses are currently being cared for across the UK. She said that there are ‘probably’ too many horses in Britain because of ‘ignorance, through change of circumstance or because of the recession’ and that ‘indiscriminate breeding was fuelling the problem’. She moves on to speak of the fact that a radical solution is needed, and for the first time publicly explains her reasons for suggesting that a real market in horse meat here in the UK could reduce the number of welfare cases. She says: “I threw the question out there because of the number of abandonments and the fact that there is no real value to the animals. People ‘chuck em out’ and if their value was increased by having a real market in the meat trade, it might be worth looking at.”

The Princess’s practical suggestions to the horse crisis have helped ramp up the interest in horse welfare and raised real awareness, on a national level, of the issues that currently face the horse world. The more people who know, the more people who can help – it’s a constant battle for charities to be heard and right now it is more important than ever that the public step in to help.

To help ease the crisis, the public can avoid breeding, The Princess herself said during the episode of Countryfile: ‘Breeding is a mug’s game’, this may sound harsh to some but there are so many things that can go wrong and at present there are too many horses and not enough homes for them. The public can do their best to rehome instead of breed and support charities that need strong assistance in order to keep rescuing the numbers they do. Government help is needed too – they can bring in better legislation that can be enforced in order to protect our horses.

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers says: “We are immensely grateful to our President for caring enough about the horse crisis to visit our Lancashire rescue and rehoming centre, and highlight the benefits of rehoming. We continue to rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of horses all over Britain each year and we desperately need people to offer good homes to them.

"World Horse Welfare urges the public to look past the shock factor headlines sparked by our President’s comments on Countryfile and understand that she has the welfare of horses at heart. There will be no magic solution to the horse crisis but we can all play a part, and we welcome her efforts in offering our horse, Annie, a new home and promoting our Rehoming Scheme which we hope will encourage others to follow by example.”

Thanks to The Princess highlighting the plight of Britain’s horses, World Horse Welfare now has the opportunity in the very near future to appear on Countryfile to explore HRH’s suggestion and share what it knows about abuses in the horse meat trade and how much legislation and enforcement needs to be improved.


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