BBC Panorama Leads to "Urgent" Meetings from BHA

The BBC Panorama documentary on horse welfare led to British Equestrian Authority (BHA) called for 'urgent' meetings with Independent Chair Equine Welfare Council and with other industry leaders.

The program said that horses were transported from Ireland to the UK with injuries prior to arriving at the slaughterhouse, which is contrary to approved practices and is an issue that the BHA will consider as a 'matter of urgency'.

After the BHA program will also contact colleagues from Horse Racing Ireland following the Monday night episode of Panorama entitled "The Dark Side of Racing".

A statement released by the BHA mentions welfare standards: "This includes transporting horses long distances to the slaughterhouse, especially if they have injuries, which is not acceptable under UK racing industry guidelines for euthanasia."

"Agency for food standards, which regulates the operation of slaughterhouses, is responsible for maintaining animal welfare standards. We will support them if they decide that there is evidence of animal cruelty that needs to be investigated, given the public concern that may arise from this program.

“The British racing industry and the 7,000+ employees who care for our horses every day across Britain are proud of the unprecedented standard of love, care, attention and respect our horses receive. We want animal end-of-life decisions to be made in accordance with the euthanasia guidelines developed by the industry's Equine Welfare Council over the past 12 months. They aim to protect the welfare of horses and explore all available relocation options.

“Our sport has laid out its broader approach to horse welfare in a strategy published in 2020 that the program chose not to highlight. One of the main aspects of this strategy is collective lifetime responsibility, and the report points to the need to further improve our after-sales and traceability performance.”

The BHA also said that significant steps have been taken since the publication of the strategy, including a review and recommendations on funding for the aftercare sector.

The statement clarified that industry discussions of the issues raised will take place on Tuesday.

It added: “The BHA and other leaders in the UK horse racing industry, including the Independently Chaired Horse Welfare Board, will meet tomorrow to further review the issues raised by this programme.

"We will also keep in touch with our counterparts in Ireland."

Horse Racing Ireland also reacted after the broadcast with a short statement which read: “The footage from the Swindon massacre shown this evening in the BBC Panorama documentary shows behavior that is unacceptable in any context.

"These shots do not capture or represent the care that racehorses receive throughout their lives."

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