A shocking new account of long distance live transportation from World Horse Welfare shows horses forced to spend 24 hours on the road at a time.
The horses had travelled 1,400 miles by road from Poland to Italy with only one rest stop.
This meant they had been on the road for a total of 60 hours.
The charity’s field officer Tony Evans was in northern Italy at a control post for horses as part of a WHW team monitoring the condition of the horses.
“The lorry and its load of exhausted, stressed and frightened horses had just arrived after a 24-hour journey from Poland, through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and on into Italy,” he said.
The horses were being unloaded for a ‘rest’ of 24 hours before being transported for another 12 hours to their final destination, a slaughterhouse in Puglia in Southern Italy.
“Many of the animals were walking unsteadily after the exhausting journey and some had feet so badly deformed that standing on them would have been painful for a few minutes, let alone a whole day,” said Mr Evans.
The stallions had been tethered at the rest stop next to mares, with young foals mixed in.
There was no water available during their journey and the dehydrated horses were eager to drink as soon as they could.
“The horses were quiet, withdrawn and tense. It was a heartbreaking sight to see,” said Mr Evans.
The latest account was revealed at the end of May.
WHW’s field team is gathering evidence to show the European Commission that the current laws allowing these journeys are causing horses to suffer.
The charity has been campaigning since it began in 1927 to put an end to the needless long-distance journeys.
As a result, according to official figures, the number of horses transported over long distances has dropped from 165,000 in 2001 to 54,000 in 2012.
Horses are now also being transported in lorries with suitable partitions that reduce injuries and deaths.