Posts Tagged ‘horse markets’

A poor looking horse awaiting his fate whilst a truck full of horses in the background wait to move off

Over the last few months we have been investigating some of the larger horse markets in France. We have invested heavily in surveillance equipment to record the evidence we need to effect the necessary changes. If we do not film or photograph unseen, then we run the risk of losing information. We were noticed photographing the huge sore on the female donkey’s hindquarters (see below), and when we returned to look at her, she had disappeared.

As ERF, our presence at the markets is to assess and report upon:

  • The well-being of the equines offered for sale
  • The conditions for the equines whilst at the markets
  • The handling of equines at the markets
  • The transportation to and from the markets
  • The compliance with EU welfare regulations, in particular Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005

Armed with this information, we then take the appropriate steps to report offences witnessed to the relevent EU bodies.

Our findings to date have been shocking. With a little more common sense applied to the needs of equines, many of the issues we encounter could be avoided. Some would be simple to implement – less overcrowding in the pens could prevent many of the injuries we witness.
There is a clear disregard for many of the EU transport laws – highly unsuitable vehicles used for transportation (two ponies even came out of the boot of a car!), inhumane loading practices, mixing horses and donkeys, entires and mares with all ages and all sizes being crammed so tightly into vans that the doors needed a lot of force just to shut against them.
Several injuries we saw were obviously from the horses being crushed against the ramp, or each other. Eye and lower limb lacerations were commonplace. There was no partitioning in many of the smaller dealers’ vans.
It seems likely that the permitted journey times for the young heavy horses travelling to Italy are being exceeded. The market is at least 8 hours (maximum journey time for unhandled horses) from the Italian border, and many of the trucks originated from regions in the NE of Italy.

Exhausted foals at the markets have only concrete to lie on all day

This coloured mare desperately attempts to escape from the stallion she is sharing a pen with. As she tries to launch over the pen she is halted by the rope she is tied to the railing with

Bad handling and unsuitable transport are to blame for many of the injuries we witnessed

For many this is the beginning of the journey to Italy for slaughter……

We will continue to monitor, report and campaign for equines to be treated humanely within the current EU animal welfare laws. We cannot continue to do this without your help. We need you as our eyes on the ground to report cases to us, and as our financial support. Every little helps, so please consider making a donation to enable to carry on with our welfare work in France.


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Yesterday was a long and difficult day for us at ERF. We travelled down into Cantal, to Maurs, to monitor their autumn horse fair. It is one of the biggest horse markets in France, with the majority of the equines sold going into the meat chain.

The conditions and treatment of some of the horses was very shocking and disturbing to witness, with no apparent welfare regulations in place for the horses. We will publish our report on the blog once we have collated all our photographic and video evidence. We are more determined than ever to push for improvements to be made at the Horse Fairs such as these. For this, we will need to call on public support, so please watch this space, the misery these animals endure is unacceptable.

Awaiting her fate...

A horse yesterday awaiting it's fate...

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Cast your minds back to last April when ERF attended a local horse market at St Yrieix. That day two very scared and thin ponies, a mare with her yearling filly still suckling, pulled on our heartstrings. The nearest place for them to recuperate was Jenny’s yard in the Dordogne, as travelling equines any distance in poor condition is risky at best.  As with any new equines that come into our care, Ruby and Ebony were put into a quarantine area. A careful programme of worming and feeding was followed to allow their starved systems time to adjust to the change in diet.

Ruby was fearful and protective of her baby, and Ebony was totally unhandled and difficult to get near. Ruby’s trust grew quite quickly, but her dislike of men generated a couple of attacks on unsuspecting males with her teeth!  As Ebony grew in confidence, she thought it might be fun to play. The boxing on the hind legs game was very quickly nipped in the bud!

With time and specialist care Ruby & Ebony turned into two very lovely ponies which we were able to rehome together, under our adoption scheme, seven months later.

Our policy is to regularly go and visit the ERF adopted equines to see how they are doing, and we were delighted to see how Ruby and Ebony had changed from this (back in April)……

Ruby on arrival, with some very welcomed hay

Ruby on arrival, with some very welcomed hay

Ebony sticks close to mum, Ruby

Ebony sticks close to mum, Ruby

And last week….looking great!



It’s lovely to see them safe, happy and secure in their new lives.

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