Too weak to stand, our unnamed Invisible Horse inspires Gillian Higgins


The suffering of a horse photographed between legs of travel will highlight the plight of horses transported long-distances for slaughter.

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We are thrilled to be charity of the year at 2016’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016. The international four-star event is the perfect place to showcase our brand new initiative, ‘The Invisible Horse’ and, as part of this, our stunning Invisible Horse Trail. The trail will showcase 14 beautiful, hand-designed horses with world-renowned artists taking inspiration from the stories of some of the horses and ponies who have come to our Rescue and Rehoming Centres. All of the beautiful pieces are cast from the original clay brought to life by sculptor and artist Judy Boyt, designer of the Badminton trophy.

Over the coming weeks, we will be proudly announcing the artists who are selflessly donating their time and the generous sponsors who are enabling the trail to shine a spotlight on the world’s unseen horses.

Gillian Higgins is a human and equine sports and remedial therapist as well as a BHS Senior Coach, anatomist, biochemist, anatomical artist and author. She is the founder of ‘Horses Inside Out’ an organisation which gives a fascinating insight into equine locomotion, training and management from an anatomical perspective. The organisation offers lecture demonstrations, practical courses, clinics and much more to a wide range of equine clubs, professionals and colleges. This allows riders and handlers to ride, train and manage their horses efficiently and effectively in order to promote better understanding of the horse and, therefore, improve its welfare.

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Gillian has created our unnamed Invisible Horse who represents all of those sent on unnecessary, long-distance journeys across Europe for slaughter. This bay mare was photographed during her journey having been sold for meat in Poland. Tragically, she had 1400 miles between her and the slaughterhouse she was travelling to in Italy. She was being transported in cramped conditions in with no food or water.

When she was photographed, her journey was far from over. The mare still had over 13 hours of travelling to go – and she was completely unable to stand.

Gillian’s amazing work, showing the anatomy and physiology of the horse, was the perfect fit for depicting the sad tale of this mare. The strain and exhaustion placed on her body left her weak, injured and frightened – her suffering completely invisible within inadequate legislation that allows such horrific practises.

gillian higgins invisible horse transport horse slaughter world horse welfare

World Horse Welfare’s campaign to end the long distance transportation of horses across Europe for slaughter aims to help around 54,000 that suffer unnoticed at the hands of this brutal and unnecessary trade.

Our founder, Ada Cole, fought to stop the export of British horses to slaughter in Europe. She started the charity (formerly known as the ILPH), upon seeing work worn horses being led to slaughter after travelling miles in unsuitable condition. Ada once said:

"If all these animals could cry aloud with one voice, it would stir the world to do something about it all. One of the most dreadful things about this traffic is that thousands of horses go to doom and agony, trudging along willingly and trustfully and in mute silence. We must be their voice".

The success of the founding campaign has led to on-going work to end the long-distance transportation of horses across Europe for slaughter – efforts that have led thus far to a reduction of over 100,000 horses over 10 years.

gillian higgins invisible horse transport horse slaughter world horse welfare

The unnamed horse is an example of the many horses which World Horse Welfare campaign aims to be a voice for, giving them the visibility they deserve through presenting evidence to the European Commission and keeping horse welfare on the agenda of MEP’s. We urge the Commission to act on the scientific evidence presented to them to amend the legislation surrounding long-distance transportation of animals.

We hope that you will all get the opportunity to explore our Invisible Horse Trail at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016. You can find out more about it here.

If you can’t come along and see the trail, there are many more ways you can get involved with our initiative, The Invisible Horse. Discover how we are shining a spotlight on horses everywhere here.

If you would like to sponsor one of the Invisible Horse Sculptures, please contact Lucie Stangl on