Sweden’s 9,000 missing horses baffle experts

Officials plan to investigate why and how 9,000 horses disappear from Sweden each year, with experts suspecting they may be illegally sold to continental food factories.

Sweden's 9,000 missing horses baffle experts

Research carried out by county officials in the south of Sweden and the Hästnäringens nationella stiftelse, HNS (“The Equine Industry Association”) showed an inexplicable gap in the number of horse deaths reported in Sweden.

With a total population of 360,000 horses in Sweden, and a horse living on average 15 years, statistics indicate that around 20,000 horses should die each year, wrote the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

Yet the numbers simply do not add up.

“We can only find 14,000 in the statistics and we’ve left no stone unturned in our search. There’s a gap of between 4,000 and 9,000 horses each year,” Karolina Thorell at the HNS told the paper.

The missing-horses statistic turned out to be the same each year, with the researchers believing that as many as 100,000 horses have vanished since the year 2000.

Thorell offered several explanations. She claimed that the horses may simply be living longer than statistics suggest; that their owners were burying them without official permits; or that the animals were ending up in slaughterhouses outside Sweden.

Mattias Gårdlund of the animal inspection authority in Skåne explained that there was hardly any oversigt of animals being shifted out of Sweden.

He claimed the value of a horse at a Swedish slaughterhouse to be about 2,000 kronor ($315), a price that could be twice as high in Denmark, three times as high in Belgium, and four times as high in Italy.

“There is no financial incentive to do this legally,” he told the paper.

This week, Swedish food company Findus came under fire when their ready-made lasagne meals were found to contain traces of horsemeat – in some instances as much as 90 percent per meal, even though the meat was labelled as beef.

Findus blamed their supplier, Belgium-based Comigel. Since the findings, 20,000 packages of the food have been destroyed.

“As the product was not in line with the information on the package, we can’t do anything else besides throw them away. You can’t give them away,” Henrik Nyberg, Nordic Production Director at Findus, told SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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Neiiiighbours offer help to Swedish riding adventurer

Suzanna Holmqvist, 28, is taking her horse and her dog on a massive adventure across Sweden and is being offered plenty of help along the way.

Neiiiighbours offer help to Swedish riding adventurer
Suzanna Holmqvist taking her horse and dog for a shorter walk. Photo: private

The Swede, from Limedforsen, Dalarna, has decided to make her long life dream come true and is going to ride across Sweden, all the way from Skåne in the south to Lapland in the north.

“It’s just something I have always wanted to do,” Holmqvist told The Local on Tuesday.

Her voyage will start on April 28th, when she'll take her horse Krumelur and her dog Jasmine on a four-month journey through Sweden.

Since she announced the trip on her Facebook page she's already had plenty of offers of help.

“What an adventure you have in front of you! Would love to join for a couple of miles around Sundsvall, and if you are passing Sundsvall we can offer you stable and a bed,” one woman wrote.

“So exciting! I also want to do something like this sometime!! At our place in Borås you get food and sleep if you are riding through!” another woman posted on the site.

Suzanna and her horse Krumelur. Photo: private.

Holmqvist claims the attention she's since grabbed in the Swedish media was unexpected, but she has decided to make the most of it and will fundraise for an animal organisation during the trip.

“All the positive response made me want to make something good of it too.”

The main preparation for the trip so far has been to train the horse and herself to travel long-distances. However the Swede claims the bigger challenge will probably be the mental aspect. Holmqvist believes the trip will be boring from time to time, but said that she was not running to a tight schedule and had allowed herself plenty of leeway in case her and her animals came across unplanned obstacles.

“We will have plenty of time if something goes wrong.”

For others inspired enough to make similar tough solo journeys, Holmqvist offered this advice: “To be really purposeful and not let yourself give up because of little things — keep up the good mood.”

Article by Emma Lidman