On Tuesday (18 April) a group of horses and riders rode through London to Parliament in a bid to raise awareness of equine welfare.

Riders included World Horse Welfare team members and familiar faces from the worlds of entertainment and equestrianism. They conducted the ride in a bid to press for the passage of the Kept Animals Bill and raise awareness of the live export to slaughter of horses.

The group included Radio 2 DJ and World Horse Welfare Patron Sara Cox, equestrian legend Jane Holderness-Roddam, and equestrian influencer and World Horse Welfare Rehomer This Esme. The ride took just over 45 minutes from South Carriage Drive in Knightsbridge, through Hyde Park to Constitution Hill and along The Mall before arriving at Parliament.

The ride marked the start of the charity’s #StopHorseSmuggling appeal to help finish what Ada Cole started and ensure that no horse from Britain is transported abroad live for slaughter.

“Almost 100 years ago World Horse Welfare was founded by the inimitable Ada Cole, and stopping the live export of horses to slaughter was her founding principle,” said Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare. “We have the chance to stop this practice once and for all, but time is running out. As the country prepares for a General Election, probably next year, the Bill will be put aside unless it is adopted soon.

“Without doubt, our aim here today is to raise awareness in the minds of the MPs in the building behind me and make sure that this opportunity is not lost. Donations to our appeal will help ensure we can continue to tirelessly chase an end to live export to slaughter.”

Sara Cox said: “My ride today, Onyx, was brilliant, taking all the people and traffic in the city in his stride. It was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to see the name World Horse Welfare and so many people saw us ride through. A great charity doing such an important job, it was wonderful to be a part of it.”

This Esme said: “Today was a great day, a great ride, with a great charity for a great cause. Nobody wants to see the live export of horses for slaughter, we all want to support these beautiful and sensitive animals. Anything we can do to increase awareness brings us a few steps closer to getting the Kept Animals Bill passed, and a stop to this barbaric end for our precious horse friends.”

The “superbly behaved” horses, supplied and led by Carol Andrews, owner of Wimbledon Village Stables, were flanked by Mounted Police for safety before coming to a halt in the very heart of the city, at Victoria Gardens South just outside the Houses of Parliament.

“It is fantastic to be involved in such an important thing for the future of welfare for our animals,” said Carol. “I am so proud to have been able to provide the horses for this wonderful event.”

Here the horses and riders took a rest. “Have you seen the Bill?” asked the banner in the park “Neither have we.” came the reply from the riders and colleagues from World Horse Welfare.

“It’s so important we all support this essential Bill to prevent more animal suffering, and I hope that by taking part in this incredible Ride to Parliament, it will bring it to people’s attention,” said Jane Holderness-Roddam.

Smuggled out of the country

The Kept Animals Bill, which will ban live exports of animals for slaughter and fattening, was first introduced to the UK Parliament in June 2021 and, despite cross-party support, it has still not become law.

“Any horse can end up being exported to slaughter, from outgrown children’s ponies through to ex-sports horses; horses sold with the best of intentions and in the belief that they could never end their lives in a slaughterhouse as they are signed out of the food chain on their official passports,” said a World Horse Welfare spokesman. “While no horse, pony or donkey has officially been declared as being exported for slaughter in recent years, it is known that there is a trade in equines being smuggled out of the country – often in poor welfare conditions and on fraudulent passports. Sadly, some of these vulnerable animals will end their lives in a slaughterhouse.”

The spokesman added that World Horse Welfare was “hugely grateful” to everyone involved with making the Ride to Parliament a safe and effective one.

To find out more and to donate to the cause, click here.

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