Horses may end their days at a UK abattoir for a number of reasons - sickness, old age, they prove too costly, or (for race horses) they are deemed inadequate to enter or to carry on racing.
Horses may change hands many times at markets as people outgrow them, get bored with them, or (as in the case of race horses) they are not performing satisfactorily on the racecourse. Many horses will be subject to a downward spiral of neglect, before arriving at the slaughterhouse.
Dealers may visit markets on the lookout for cheap horses - there being a good financial return for the meat of slaughtered horses.
Private owners may choose to sell their horse to the slaughterman for around £300 rather than paying a vet £200 to euthanase their animal.
Horse meat is sold abroad for human consumption. It is ...reportedly... not used in pet food in the UK,
19 January 2013 Sky News has uncovered shocking animal welfare conditions at a UK horse abattoir.
They include animals being beaten, neglected and illegal procedures in the process of slaughtering British horses destined for European food markets.
It comes amid public anger that some of our biggest supermarkets have been selling beef burgers and other products that contained horse meat.
Sky News visited the Red Lion Abattoir near Nantwich in Cheshire after concerns were raised by Animal Welfare Group Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
Investigators at Hillside fitted secret cameras which filmed horses being beaten with an iron rod to encourage them into the pens.
Some were then crammed into the slaughter pens in pairs and, on one occasion, a group of three, before being stunned together.