Horse racing has long been regarded as exciting and glamorous – the ‘sport of kings’.
Beautiful outfits, champagne, the opportunity to win lots of money on a favorite, and, of course, the gorgeous, young, powerful horses racing their hearts out.
The truth is that horse racing is an ugly industry with very ugly animal welfare issues.
A one-way race to death
Firstly, many horses never make it off the track.
At least 139 horses were killed on Australian racetracks in the last racing year. They suffered broken legs, backs and necks.
Jumps racing is particularly dangerous for horses – and, thankfully, has finally been stopped in South Australia. However, it still goes on in Victoria.
Horses are now raced when they are two years old, even though their skeletons will not be mature for another three years. These horses are at risk of serious injuries on the track. Many of them are injured in their first year of racing and can’t race again … and the outlook is not good for failed or retired racehorses. Most of them are sent to the abattoirs – the ‘knackery’.
WARNING: This video contains scenes which some viewers might find upsetting.
Horses should not be ‘wastage’
The racing industry breeds thousands of horses every year in the hope of finding a handful of winners. Most of theses horses won’t measure up to what’s needed to be on the track, and will never even get started in racing – they’ll just end up being slaughtered as ‘wastage’.
Horses who make it onto the track but then don’t get placed consistently will suffer the same fate. They’ll be auctioned off for a pittance and taken to the knackery to become pet food.
The racing industry needs to address the issues of injury and wastage, and provide accurate information about every horse bred for racing, from birth to death.
In 2019, the ABC produced a horrific expose on the horse racing industry in Australia. It’s well worth watching.
To find out more, check these websites:
RSPCA: Animal welfare in horse racing
Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses