The Princess Royal has praised World Horse Welfare for its work in highlighting the suffering of horses in the UK and abroad.
But she has added that responsible owners must not stand by and ignore the issue.
The Princess was attending the charity’s annual conference in London today (12 November). One of the subjects was World Horse Welfare’s Make a Noise campaign to stop the long-distance transport of horses to slaughter.
In her president’s address she said: “Looking at the footage of the horses which are travelled long distances across Europe, I think many responsible owners cannot quite believe that such abuse takes place every day.
“I am struck by the number of abattoirs these horses must pass on their journeys [from Romania to Italy] and the number of opportunities which could have been taken to end their suffering.
“But we are not squeaky clean in this country and I was also struck by the low number of abattoirs in the UK.”
She also touched on the problem of equine obesity, highlighted this week by a survey conducted by World Horse Welfare that showed an alarmingly small number of people recognise an overweight horse and the health implications it can have for its wellbeing.
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said: “Most of the cases our 16 field officers see are not caused by cruel intentions, rather ignorance.
“But owners and keeper have to act to avert horrific suffering [from obesity] in the future.”
He said the charity was changing its emphasis from being reactive to become more proactive.
“We must remember that our research into vaccinations and cures for illnesses does not negate the need for basic knowledge,” added the Princess.
Visit the Make a Noise and Right Weight campaigns on the World Horse Welfare website, www.worldhorsewelfare.org.