The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has called an ‘urgent’ meeting with the independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board and other industry officials in response to the findings of a BBC Panorama investigation.
After the Monday night Panorama programme, titled “The Dark Side of Horse Racing,” broadcast covert footage filmed inside one of the UK’s largest abattoirs – which it is claimed showed rules surrounding the slaughter of horses being broken – the BHA will also contact colleagues at Horse Racing Ireland.
According to the programme, horses were transferred from Ireland to the UK with an injury before being slaughtered, which is against approved protocols and something the BHA will investigate into as a “matter of urgency.”
Statement in response
The BHA published a statement that referred to welfare standards: “This includes transporting horses over long distances to an abattoir, especially if these have injuries, which is not acceptable under the British racing industry’s guidelines for euthanasia.
“The Food Standards Agency, which regulates abattoirs, is responsible for maintaining standards of animal welfare. We would support them if they decide there is evidence of mistreatment of animals which requires investigation, given the public concern that may arise from this programme.
“The British racing industry, and the 7,000 and more staff who look after our horses day-in, day-out, across Britain, are proud of the unparalleled standards of love, care, attention, and respect our horses receive.
“Where end-of life decisions are being considered, we want these to take place in accordance with the euthanasia guidelines developed by the industry’s Horse Welfare Board over the last 12 months. These aim to ensure that horses’ welfare is protected and that all available options for rehoming are examined.
“Our sport has set out its wider approach to equine welfare in a strategy published in 2020, which the programme chose not to highlight. One of the core aspects of this strategy is collective lifetime responsibility, and the report identified the need to further enhance our record in the fields of aftercare and traceability.”
The BHA also said that substantial actions had been done after the strategy’s publication, such as a review and suggestions for the aftercare sector’s funding.
The industry will meet today (Tuesday) to discuss the issues expressed, according to the statement.
It added: “The BHA and other leaders from the British racing industry, including the independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board, will be meeting tomorrow to consider further the issues raised by this programme.
“We will also be in contact with our colleagues in Ireland.”
Following the show, Horse Racing Ireland issued a brief statement that read: “The images from the Swindon abattoir, portrayed this evening in the BBC documentary Panorama, showed behaviour unacceptable in any context.
“This footage does not reflect, and is not representative, of the care that racehorses receive throughout their lives.”