Each year, around 100,000 horses are exported from Central and Eastern Europe for slaughter in Italy, France and Belgium in what can fairly be described as one of the cruelest and least regulated aspects of Europe's live animal trade.
Poland is the biggest exporter of live horses for slaughter in Europe. Ten years ago there were one million horses in Poland but that number has now been reduced to 500,000. Nevertheless, each year, 87,000 leave Poland to be slaughtered for meat. 90 per cent go to Italy and 10 per cent to France and Belgium. Horses endure horrendously long journeys. One of the furthest destinations is Sardinia, a journey of 2500km (1500 miles) which may take as long as 95 hours.