Animal Equality is committed to ending horse slaughter.

Will you make a donation today and help us show the truth about horse slaughter to the world?

Your support will help us achieve a ban on this cruel practice.

Horse Meat in The UK: Your Questions, Answered 

Horses are much-loved animals in the UK, so it is hard to imagine that these sensitive animals are also killed for human consumption. Most people don’t even know that the slaughter of horses is legal in the UK. 

Below, we are answering the most common questions about horse meat in the UK. 

Are Horses Slaughtered in The UK?


Yes, every year in the UK horses are slaughtered for human and animal consumption. The number of horses killed has decreased over the years and, as of January 2022, it is illegal to slaughter retired racing horses. 

99% of horses slaughtered in England and Wales are sent to other countries, as are the vast majority across the UK.

Is Horse Meat Illegal in The UK?


In the UK it is legal to sell and consume horse meat. However, almost all horse meat produced in the UK is exported abroad. 

In 2013, a horse meat scandal broke out in Europe, when it was discovered that many products advertised as containing beef actually contained – sometimes entirely – horse meat. For the British public, the idea of eating horse meat is revolting, and so the horse meat scandal has generated disgust and concern among the British population. So much so that it is still broadly discussed today.

Are There Any Horses Bred For Meat in The UK?


The vast majority of horses who end up in slaughterhouses in the UK have been bred and abandoned. These breeders are often not licensed and may sell their horses to slaughterhouses when they cannot or don’t want to take care of them anymore. 

Until January 2022, retired racehorses were also sent to slaughter for human consumption. This is no longer permitted. 

How Are Horses Killed?


The Government sets certain guidelines on how to kill horses, which are almost exactly the same as those that apply to other mammals, like cows. 

The only major difference for horses is that, as they are social and herd animals, they cannot be killed in front of others, because they become terrified.  

In the UK, horses are killed with a free bullet (instead of a captive bolt), fired from a shotgun at point-blank range into the brain. Their bodies are then shackled by the hind legs and their throats are cut to bleed them out.

Do Retired RaceHorses Go To Slaughter in the UK? 


As of January 2022, the slaughter of retired racing horses for human consumption is no longer permitted. 

Between 2019 and 2021, 4,000 retired racing horses were slaughtered in the UK for human consumption. 

Is The UK Importing or Exporting Horse Meat to Other Countries? 


The UK is the 8th largest exporter of horse meat in Europe, exporting mainly to the Netherlands and Belgium. The export value in 2020 was over £6 million. 

By exporting to other countries, the UK has been profiting from the suffering of animals that we don’t dare to eat in our country. 

It’s Time to Ban Horse Slaughter

The slaughter of horses for human and animal consumption is a cruel practice and one that the UK public and animal protection organisations have been denouncing for decades. 

These sensitive and intelligent animals, considered in many cultures as companion animals, continue to be treated as commodities in this global trade. The vast majority of the UK public is opposed to the consumption of horses, reflected in low sales of horse meat, yet these animals continue to suffer in slaughterhouses every year as their flesh is then packaged, shipped and sold abroad. 

Horses are being killed across the UK every year because too many are being bred into existence. Expensive to keep and care for, ‘surplus’ horses are often sent to slaughter to become cheap meat, cat or dog food, glue, leather, or fertiliser, allowing breeders to profit from the killing. This money-making scheme cannot continue operating under the radar.

The public considers horse meat too cruel to eat, yet the UK profits from the suffering of these animals by selling products originating from horses to other countries. This is an unacceptable contradiction.

It is time to put an end to this animal suffering. 

Join Animal Equality’s international campaign to end the sale, slaughter, import and export of horses. 


Do you know what’s worse than seeing a horse being killed inside a slaughterhouse?

It’s a horse who’s killed and is never seen at all. And you have the power to change it.

For every horse we’ve filmed, there’s another horse out there somewhere being led by a man across a room.

This horse has been led by people many times before so she goes with him. Something doesn’t feel right to her but she trusts she’s going somewhere safe.

But the truth is she only has minutes left to live.

The man stops and leaves her to one side of the room. He walks over to another part of the room and picks up his stun-gun.

It’s a gun with a metal bolt inside.

The horse has never seen a gun before. She wouldn’t know what it is in any case.

And he knows this. So he takes his time and holds the gun to her head. 

She senses there’s something wrong now. She begins to feel scared and she moves her head, sniffing at the air. Her eyes twitch and she looks down at the ground.

Somehow she understands that this is the end.

Most people simply don’t know that any of this is happening. They don’t see the horses in the slaughterhouses. They don’t know that there’s anyone to save.

You’re one of the special people who has now seen the truth. Not only that, you’ve decided you want to do something to help them. After all, isn’t that why you landed on this page?

Now you have a chance to do something to help them.

Animal Equality’s brave investigators go into places that no one else will go to uncover the truth. No one wants to go into a slaughterhouse to see a horse being killed. We can all imagine how hard that would be.

But our investigators are strong and determined. They allow themselves to be sad for a moment and then they turn to the job at hand.

They capture the images that you’ve seen. Those images have opened the eyes of so many people. And some of them, like you, have decided never to close them again.

But now it’s up to you.

Because if we’re going to stop horses from being slaughtered…

If we’re going to save them…

We have to show more people the truth and inspire them to stand with us by demanding that horse slaughter ends.

So today, now that you know the truth about what happens to horses, I ask you to please make a donation to help horses.

With your donation, we’ll be able to show the images you’ve seen to more people and make sure that horses won’t have to suffer in silence. 

For every £10 we raise, we are able to show the stories of these innocent animals to a hundred more people.

If we stand together, we can end horse slaughter for good.

Please donate today.

With gratitude,

Abigail Penny

Executive Director, Animal Equality UK


Animal Equality is an international animal protection organisation working in eight countries to end cruelty to farmed animals.

Our vision is a world in which all animals are respected and protected.

Our teams in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, USA and India consist of highly qualified professionals with years of experience in undercover investigations, corporate campaigns, political outreach and the development of large-scale education programmes.


Facilities investigated
investigations released in 2022
country offices


Animal Equality has investigated over 800 facilities worldwide, including nearly 50 in the UK, uncovering shocking abuse and cruelty to farmed animals.

Our images have been shown several times in the mainstream media.

In February 2022, our latest investigation inside a UK dairy farm was aired on BBC One’s Panorama in a 30-minute episode on the true cost of milk. And last year, our investigations into a salmon abattoir and a ‘quality assured’ pig farm in Scotland were also published in The Times.


Going into that foie gras farm gave me an insight, if only brief, into the lives of the brave investigators who see the kinds of things I saw and feel the kind of pain I felt, and yet make the difficult decision to go back again day after day to do more.

— Peter Egan, Activist and actor, speaking about his experience inside a foie gras farm

Nothing prepares you for looking into the eyes of a mother pig whose life is to be impregnated and left in a cage until she’s slaughtered. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to be literally trapped and crushing your own babies and not be able to do anything about it.

— Rooney Mara, Activist and actress, speaking about her experience inside a pig farm

When you witness the horror that really happens behind closed doors and slaughterhouses to farm animals all over the world, it’s impossible not to be affected by it and to realise that we have to do something drastic to stop it.

Joaquin Phoenix, Activist and actor, speaking at a protest with Animal Equality in London

You Can Help Them!

Millions of horses are slaughtered every year for human and animal consumption in the world.

Help us defend these intelligent and sensitive animals, make a donation today.