Because of the appalling conditions exposed by campaigners many years ago, Britain introduced measures to end the export of live horses to Europe for meat.
These protections are now under threat, largely because our own Government refuses to act to keep Britain out of the meat horse export trade.
By the end of this month, new EU regulations will come into effect that will end Britain's exemption from this awful trade and sanction journey times lasting several days and so-called rest periods that don't require the horses to be off loaded.
Proper watering and feeding under these conditions is impossible and the overall impact will be a disaster for the animals.
The European Commission has indicated that it is quite willing to consider any provision from our Government to keep UK horses and ponies safe from the meat trade. The Department of Food and Rural Affairs claims a ban or attempt to restrict live trade from the UK would be illegal. In other words it can't be bothered to do anything.All animals forced to undergo long-distance transportation suffer from acute stress and many also endure physical and mental deprivation and injury. Horses suffer particularly badly as they do not travel well and become highly stressed inside the lorries.
Italy is the main importer of horses for meat, which means that British animals will be forced to undertake extremely long journeys to the south of Europe.
The group Viva! successfully campaigned to curb the export of Polish horses to Italy, showing overcrowding, dreadful injuries, inadequate watering, feeding and rest are all commonplace.
I would urge everyone to contact their MP and the Minister for Agriculture, Margaret Beckett, to demand that British horses be protected. For more information, contact Viva!, 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2, or email email@example.com.
ASHLEY BROWN Maghera