A few months rarely pass without there being another uproar regarding horses once used and abused by the racing industry being dumped at the sales. Kind hearts, charities and rescues come together from all over to do what they can with extremely limited resources to try to save them and other breeds from the dreaded ‘doggers’.
When a private buyer outbids them, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, including the struggling sanctuaries who then don’t have to take on yet another discarded horse from this multi-billion dollar industry, or feel the guilt that they were unable. Many of the public then believing the horse to now be safe and loved, forever.
But is that always the case? No one is vetted at the sales. It is literally an auction and the highest bidder takes them home as easily as they could a car, with whom they can essentially treat as they please.
This was highlighted just last weekend at the notorious Laidley Sales in Queensland. We now know there to have been at least seven thoroughbreds, (along with several standardbreds and many other equine types) at this sale. However, the only thoroughbred to have been identified as the sale commenced was five year old Brave Nick – still listed as ‘active’ by the authority and last raced less than one month ago. Our original post about him https://bit.ly/3GimMiq He was purchased by a private buyer who rides horses in bronc rodeos, chases down and terrifies brumby foals – taking them from their herds, and does ‘cattle’ droving.
Another potential outcome from private buyers we so often see is they are back at the sales at risk again within a few months for various reasons but often due to the buyer having no reliable history as to the condition/behaviour of the horse. Or, they are left to languish at the back of a property somewhere – suffer neglect, malnutrition and often a slow, excruciating death.
It’s unclear how Brave Nick will be used and one could of course argue that this is a better outcome than death, but the point must be made that even if the ‘doggers’ were eradicated from these sales, a huge industry still operates – from the breeders, to the owners, the trainers, and the authority itself, on the premise that the majority of horses will be discarding once they’re done with them (on average under three years), without a care as to where they will end up. They negate themselves of the lifelong responsibility they should take for forcing a life into the world.
Racing Victoria’s answer to this is to kill them on farm under their new ‘On-site Euthanasia Program’. It helps to avoid PR nightmares, as they know there simply are not enough good private homes and sanctuaries with the capacity to take on the approximately 10,000 thoroughbreds (nation-wide) exiting the industry each year – very often injured, and mentally and emotionally damaged. That is without accounting for the foals bred who never make it to the track at all.
Racing NSW answer to this is a ban on horse slaughter by the industry participants themselves, but once they’re moved on to a new home it’s a free for all.
Racing QLD’s answer (and the other states) is essentially nothing at all aside from offering support to those who want to find ‘second careers’ for their horses and some promotion on life after racing.
All programs offer zero transparency.
The industry is not willing to foot the bill, or even put measures in place to keep it at a sustainable size that would be capable of ensuring lifelong good homes. That’s not part of the business model.
Three actions you can take right now to help are:
1. Demand an effective lifelong national horse traceability registerhttps://horseracingkills.com/nhtr/
2. Take the pledge to never bet on or attend a horse race again https://bit.ly/3g70lCc
3. Share this article
We are now aware of three other identities of the seven thoroughbreds known to have been at this sale.
Nineteen year old mare, Diamond Supre, purchased from a meat buyer post sale by a reputable sanctuary. She is listed as retired and has not been raced since 2009 after receiving a 3 month ban for suffering exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage in trackwork. We do not know where she has been these past thirteen years or how she has been treated.
Another is seventeen year old mare One More Shot – listed as retired and not raced since 2010. She was then registered for breeding before dropping from the record in 2014. We’re not sure of her sale outcome.