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Here's something you probably didn't know about British Olympic eventer Pippa Funnell. Yes, she won the Grand Slam of Eventing--Badminton, Burghley and Rolex Kentucky in succession. But did you know that she is a trustee of World Horse Welfare?
And that one of the campaigns near and dear to her heart is to improve and even end the transport of horses to slaughter in Europe?
At last month's international conference of World Horse Welfare, Pippa was on stage when the audience took its turn asking questions of the speakers. One question was headed Pippa's way--how does one compare the circumstances of transporting elite sport horses to competitions with the plight of slaughter-bound horses?
Pippa's answer followed the party line of World Horse Welfare, but she brought up an excellent point. Our show, sport and race horses are completely accustomed to transport. They take it in stride. But farm-raised horses in Poland and Romania have never been on a truck in their lives. For almost all of them, their first trip is also their last. Not only is the trip endlessly long and uncomfortable, but there is the stress of loading and the prolonged stress of not being accustomed to the motion of the vehicle and the need to keep one's balance.
There are many different issues and regulations in Europe for horse transport to slaughter, and it is more regulated that it is here, but it doesn't seem that way to the people in Europe trying to improve or stop transport.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: We should be paying attention to horse transport to slaughter issues in Europe.
And someone should bring Pippa over to see how things are done here--a night at Camelot Weekly in New Jersey to see the up side of things, a day at New Holland, wherever--and ask her to talk about the differences and similarities she sees. And Princess Anne, as president of World Horse Welfare, is an ace in the hole for reformists here in the United States.
The last time I checked, the USA was still part of the world. While she might not be willing to comment on what goes on in the USA without first-hand knowledge, she does speak about horse transport to slaughter in general terms. And when she speaks, a lot of people are willing to listen.
Please notice that they very carefully do not call for an end to horse slaughter, but rather a switch to the transport of refrigerated horse carcasses to the processing plants instead of live horses. Pippa notes that the slaughter-bound trucks full of horses from eastern Europe drive right past local slaughterhouses that could process the horses. Italian butchers pay the best price, however, so over the roads they go.
The latest opportunity for transport-to-slaughter regulation changes in Europe was in October; recommendations from the World Horse Welfare dossier were not approved. Despite this setback, the WHW campaigns for public awareness of the welfare problems inherent to the trade continue.