Written evidence submitted by World Horse Welfare (MAAB0070)


Following on from our discussion, where you asked for further background on why equines are being moved (exported and imported) non-compliantly (or ‘smuggled’) and what evidence we have, hopefully the following helps:

-          Why does this happen:


If it is easier to understand with an example:

Horse X and Y were bought as part of a large group of horses at a total cost for all of them in the low hundreds. All of the horses have received medication that means they are not eligible for the food chain and the passports are, therefore, worthless to the individual who has bought them (who we’ll refer to as the trader). The trader has a bundle of passports that belong to dead horses that were eligible for the food chain, and he/she decides to use these for the horses they have just bought (amending the chip numbers in the passports so they match the chips in the horses). The horses are moved for minimal cost to an EU country on the fraudulent passports to a market for sale. Horse X is successfully sold as a ridden pony to a trekking centre (who only intend to use the animal for a year, so want to have the option to send it to slaughter after it is no longer of value to them) but there is no interested buyer for Y, so the trader decides to sell this horse for meat. While some horses have been sold at a loss others make a profit, meaning overall it is profitable for the trader.  In addition, that trader has moved equines as part of a legitimate trade – taking money from owners who have paid for their horse to be moved – and has also used the move to hide a trade in drugs. Therefore, the trade in the low value horses is only one part of a much larger and more complex business.  


-          We have good reason to believe that horses are being exported and imported on fraudulent passports based on the following:


Also, just to reiterate that while this does have implications for human health (as many of these equines should not be entering the food chain), there are serious equine welfare and biosecurity implications. These equines are being transported ‘under the radar’, often long distances in sub-standard conditions and many will not be fit for the intended journey (for example, due to injury or underlying health conditions). They could also be carrying notifiable diseases as evidenced with the EIA (equine infectious anaemia) outbreaks in 2010 onwards.


September 2021