Horses: a dark reality behind their grace

What happens to racehorses (and not only) when they are no longer useful? A new report investigates the Irish and European equine industry. The images released and discoveries made are terrifying even for those who believe they have seen enough animal suffering

Beloved by the Irish for their elegance and strong social temperament, horses are often used in therapy sessions, events, and races. However, when their usefulness ends, a darker reality emerges, marked by abuse, irregularities in slaughterhouses, and shadowy dealings across Europe.

Unveiling the hidden ties between horse racing and slaughterhouses

A new investigation sheds light on the connection between horse racing and slaughterhouses in Ireland and Europe, revealing what the equine industry prefers to keep hidden. This investigation was carried out by RTÉ Investigates. The documentary aired on RTÉ One and was available for streaming on RTE Player on Thursday, June 14.

According to data examined by RTÉ Investigates in “Horses: Making a Killing”, the majority of the thousands of horses killed at Ireland’s only authorized horse slaughterhouse were retired thoroughbreds.

These horses, forced to compete over 3,000 times on tracks across Ireland, the UK, and Europe, belong to an industry that receives 76 million euros in state support in Ireland this year. Then, they meet a grim fate.

Professor Christopher Elliot, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, shared his shocking findings:

“I have probably visited stables and slaughterhouses for about 45 years. I have never seen anything like this. This is… something I have never seen before, it is simply and incredibly distressing.”

Food safety risks exposed

The documentary also highlights the food safety risks due to a flawed horse traceability system, with horses being exchanged within European borders and given new identities.

Following the premiere of Horses: Making a Killing, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued a press release stating that inspections had begun.

Government response

“I watched the RTÉ Investigates program this evening, which included some disturbing images. I am taking the issue extremely seriously. My department has already launched an investigation in recent weeks regarding the supply of horses for slaughter, with ongoing aspects of the investigation related to some broadcast activities. Any new allegations or evidence of negligence or illegal activity in the equine sector brought to light by this program will be thoroughly investigated by my department,” said Minister McConalogue.

The report is available for streaming at this link.

Source: RTE

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