The Princess Royal has spoken out on the inhumane conditions suffered by horses bound for slaughter outside the UK.
Writing in the foreword to Horse Welfare: Use not Abuse, a new book on the topic, Princess Anne criticised hauliers and the meat industry saying that horse welfare has deteriorated due to “over-breeding, doping and indiscriminate horse trading.”
The Princess writes: “The sadness is that a book should like ‘Horse Welfare Use not Abuse’ still need to be written after so many years of campaigning by charities such as World Horse Welfare.
“Matters seem to be getting worse as a result of over-breeding, doping and indiscriminate horse trading at markets where welfare is of little interest to those involved.”
Princess Anne, like her mother The Queen, has always shown a keen interest in horses and their welfare. A former European Eventing Champion, she has previously urged people to consider rehoming abandoned horses.
In 2013, the Princess rehomed a horse called Annie from the World Horse Welfare charity, saying:
“With rehoming, you know much more about the animal – that must be the biggest advantage because you have got people who have worked with them and had them for long enough.
“You can do a lot of awful lot good by taking a horse from rehoming, and I hope more people will at least find out what is involved because sometimes it may not be as difficult as they think.”
In the new title, written by Christopher Hall, Princess Anne also talks about the horrors of transporting horses to countries where they are slaughtered for their meat:
“The greatest suffering continues to be in the inhumane transportation of horses across country borders to slaughterhouses, matched only by the thousands of horses, donkeys and mules working long hours in the developing world.
“In these countries, the well-being of the horse may be just as significant as that of a child because, without a horse to fetch and carry, the very viability of family life can suffer.
“And yet it is still difficult for some to recognise the value of working animals in these situations.
“While those struggling for survival may be forgiven for their failure to care adequately for their animals through ignorance or poverty, in equestrian ownership in more developed countries there is surely no excuse for inadequate care,” she added.
Her Royal Highness is the former chairman of World Horse Welfare and the London International Horse Show. She caused controversy in a speech to the charity in 2013 when she claimed that horse welfare might improve if owners were selling them for meat.
At the time, she asked: “Should we be considering a real market for horsemeat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases, if there was a real value in the horse meat sector?”
Image Credits: North Highland College