The Suffering Caused By Using Horses As Racing Objects Is Global.

A message from our friends at American based Horse Racing Wrongs.

Horseracing Wrongs is a non-profit dedicated to eradicating horseracing in the United States. Indeed, we are the only organization in the country that is clearly and consistently working toward that end.

For far too long, horseracing has been given cover under the banner of sport – “The Sport of Kings” – when, in fact, stripped to its core, horseracing is nothing but an archaic, largely nonviable gambling business that exploits, abuses, and kills sentient beings, inherently. In other words, it cannot be fixed or reformed; in other words, it is wrong from the start. To be more specific:

Horseracing is unremitting confinement and isolation: The typical racehorse is kept locked – alone – in a tiny 12×12 stall for over 23 hours a day, making a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run, and a cruelty all the worse for being inflicted upon naturally social, herd-oriented animals like horses.

Horseracing is absolute control and utter subjugation – lip tattoos, nose chains, tongue ties, eye blinkers, mouth bits, and, of course, whips.

Horseracing is commodification: In the eyes of the law, racehorses are literal chattel, things to be bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their people decide. To make matters worse, they are not even afforded the protections, woefully inadequate as most are, of animal-cruelty statutes, meaning a trainer or owner can grind his horse into the ground – yes, even to death – with virtual impunity. What’s more, the average racehorse will change hands several times over the course of his “career,” adding anxiety and stress to an already anxious and stressful existence.

Horseracing is negation: Most all the horse’s natural instincts and desires are thwarted, creating an emotional and mental suffering brought home with crystal clarity in the stereotypies or vices commonly seen in confined racehorses – cribbing, weaving, bobbing, pacing, kicking – even self-mutilation. Says world-renowned equine behaviorist Nick Dodman: “Racehorses, with long periods of confinement and isolation, exhibit an unusually high prevalence of stereotypies. The suffering can be described by referencing the suffering of people in solitary confinement. A recently released man who had spent years in solitary said he sometimes felt anxiety, paranoia, panic, hallucinations etc. The only way he could help suppress the dysphoria was to walk back and forth in his cell until the line he walked was soaked in his sweat.”

And, of course, horseracing is killing: Horseracing Wrongs, primarily through our unprecedented FOIA reporting, has documented over 5,000 confirmed kills on U.S. tracks since 2014 – names, dates, locations. We estimate that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training across America every year. Over 2,000. Imagine that.

And just to be clear, death on the track is neither clean nor placid: It’s cardiovascular collapse, pulmonary hemorrhage, blunt-force head trauma; it’s broken necks, crushed spines, ruptured ligaments, and shattered legs, occasionally shattered so severely that the limb remains attached to the rest of the body by skin or tendons only.

But that number – 2,000 – staggering though it is, tells but a part of the story. Each year, hundreds more active, mostly-still-in-puberty racehorses die back in their stalls from things like colic, laminitis, infection, or are simply “found dead” in the morning.

Then, too, slaughter. While the industry desperately tries to downplay the extent of the problem, cunningly flashing its zero-tolerance policies and aftercare initiatives in defense, the prevailing wisdom – backed by two scientific studies – is that the vast majority of spent or simply no-longer-wanted racehorses are brutally and violently bled-out and butchered in Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses – over 15,000 Thoroughbreds alone each year. In short, the American horseracing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. Not hyperbole – carnage.

Truth is, Horseracing is already in decline, and has been for some time: Since 2000, the U.S. industry has suffered a net loss of 35 tracks; all other metrics – racedays, races, field sizes, “foal crop,” and, yes, attendance and handle – are also down. Moreover, a majority of tracks are being wholly propped up by subsidies – corporate welfare. It is unfair and horses continue to suffer (and die) for it.

But beyond the economic realities, sensibilities toward animal exploitation, most especially regarding entertainment, are rapidly changing. In just the past few years:

– SeaWorld, in the wake of outrage over the film Blackfish, has ended the captive-breeding of orcas and remains in a precipitous decline.

– Ringling Bros., after 146 years of animal abuse, has closed its doors for good.

– Both New York and Illinois have outlawed the use of elephants for entertainment.

– The National Aquarium will release all of its remaining captive-dolphins to a seaside sanctuary by 2020.

– Multiple cities, including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Pasadena, Fort Wayne, and St. Petersburg, have banned the rodeo.

– And just this past November, Floridians voted overwhelmingly – by over 2:1 – to outlaw greyhound racing in that state by the end of next year, a monumental win for animals that will in one fell swoop shutter 11 of the nation’s final 17 tracks – leaving dogracing in America all but dead.

So the question becomes, why should horseracing be exempt? In a landscape that abounds with other gambling (and entertainment) options – casinos, lotteries, real sports involving autonomous human beings – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to stop wagering on the backs of suffering – and dying – animals?

End the cruelty. End the killing. End horseracing.

– Patrick Battuello

Cover Image Source: Sports Illustrated

The Carnage Continues For The Horseracing Industry

There has been carnage on racetracks in Victoria and NSW during April 2019, that has resulted in immense suffering of both jockeys and horses. At least ten horses have been killed on the racetrack in these two states alone and many more have been injured.

Injuries in horse racing are extremely common. It is not unusual to witness a horse suffer a catastrophic musculo-skeletal injury or collapse and die due to cardio-vascular/respiratory failure (sudden death).

Tarka died of acute cardiopulmonary failure
Source: Breednet

At Randwick fillies, Bye Bye Belle (aged 3 – 13 April) and Ocean’s Faith (aged 2 – 25 April) collapsed and died in the home straight.  We know that horses who are assessed after racing with evidence of cardiac arrhythmia, are ordered by stewards to undergo an ECG (electrocardiogram) and pass a veterinary check before being allowed to return to the races.  Considering the frequency of this condition, it should be mandatory for all horses to undergo an ECG to at least attempt to identify cardiovascular/respiratory problems before they result in catastrophic deaths. Furthermore,  trainers should undergo further education and be provided with heart-rate meters for the horses they train.

Also at Randwick in NSW on 13 April 2019, Persan and War Baron crashed to the turf in the concluding stages of the race.  While we understand that the jockeys involved were not seriously injured, we have no information on what injuries the horses may have suffered.  Stewards report here.

At Tomingley in NSW on 27 April 2019, three jockeys and three horses, Sikum, Another Plan and Run the Red, crashed to the ground, suffering serious injuries. Jockey M. Hackett (Another Plan) sustained severe head injuries and was airlifted to Liverpool in Sydney in a critical but stable condition. Another Plan was found to have sustained a small abrasion to the nasal area. R. Blewitt (Run the Red) was airlifted to Westmead Hospital in Sydney where he was found to have sustained a fracture to the scapula, a fractured rib and stable in-displaced thoracic spinal fractures. Run the Red was found to have a deep abrasion to the off-fore fetlock as well as a small abrasion to the off-hind. M. Gray (Sikum) was transported to Dubbo hospital where he was found to have sustained a fractured clavicle, a fractured wrist as well as a thoracic spinal fracture. Sikum was found to have a palpable fracture to the nasal bones.  Stewards report here.

Carnage at Tomingley
Source: Central Western Daily

We believe the deaths of all active racehorses should be recorded and made public. This includes all horses that die in training, trials, jump-outs, and races. The community is entitled to know.

Summary of the race day deaths in April in NSW and Victoria recorded

VIC 5.4.19Cranbourne/TrialsMonarch Chimes7yo gelding/no details
NSW 11.4.19
Categoric3yo gelding/collapsed and died
VIC 11.4.19Kyneton RacesSaracentinal8yo gelding/serious racing injury/euthanised
NSW 12.4.19Randwick/JumpoutMississippi Miss3yo  filly/collapsed and died
NSW 13.4.19Randwick RacesTarka3yo colt/acute cardiopulmonary failure/euthanised
NSW 13.4.19Randwick RacesBye Bye Belle3yo filly/collapsed and died
VIC 16.4.19Bendigo RacesEgotist4yo gelding/serious racing injury/euthanised
VIC 20.4.19Caulfield RacesMagnapal 4yo gelding/serious racing injury/euthanised
NSW 25.4.19Randwick RacesOcean’s Faith3yo filly/collapsed and died
VIC 27.4.19Caulfield RacesColumbus Circle 3yo gelding/serious racing injury/euthanised

There is no doubt there are many more deaths that are not recorded as horses who are euthanised off the racetrack do not need to be reported to stewards

Nearly 30 years ago, a Senate Select Committee of Inquiry handed down its recommendations to improve the welfare of racehorses in the racing industries. According to our investigations, none of these recommendations were enforced by State Governments who are responsible for regulating their racing industries and safeguarding the welfare of racehorses on behalf of the public.  With animal welfare now a serious political issue, all animal industries are under intense scrutiny and pressure to improve the welfare of animals they use. 

It is clear from the ongoing carnage on racetracks around the country, that the Federal Government needs to conduct another Inquiry into the horseracing industry in Australia.  

Cover Image Source: ABC News