Editor's note: Roly Owers is chief executive of World Horse Welfare and a qualified veterinarian with a lifetime of involvement with horses. He is active in working with governments, sport regulators, veterinary bodies and non-profit organizations to improve horse welfare worldwide.
A welcome spotlight is now being shone on the murky trade in European horsemeat, but the public are still being left in the dark about the brutal treatment and needless suffering of the horses destined for their plates.
Every year around 65,000 horses are crammed into trucks and transported across Europe to the slaughterhouse for what can be days on end in hellish conditions.
No type of horse is spared: including infirm working horses, foals (foal steak commands a premium among those who eat horse meat) and those bred and fattened to obesity to command the highest prices at slaughter.
Few, if any of them, are fit enough to travel on such long journeys - a feat which would challenge even the most athletic sport horses. Many thousands of America's horses are also transported vast distances on journeys to slaughter in Mexico and Canada, so this is not simply a European problem.
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