Frequently Asked Questions
CPR is not a rescue organisation. Its goal is to educate the general public and lobby racing industry stakeholders and government to achieve better outcomes for racehorses.
CPR does however facilitate the re-homing of racehorses by collaborating with rescue groups when necessary.
All work to better the lives of humans, other animals and the environment we share is valid. The suffering and death experienced by so many horses due to the racing industry is not insignificant and must be addressed. Additionally, many of our volunteers and supporters also dedicate time and resources to other social justice causes.
CPR cares for all horses however its focus is to address animal welfare issues within the racing industry. We believe that racing affects the largest number of horses, who currently receive the least amount of protection. By focusing on racehorses, we believe that it will have a positive flow on effect for all horses such as the establishment of a National Horse Traceability Register.
CPR is a not for profit organisation, which relies solely on donations from the general public to fund its campaigns such as ‘Ban Jumps Racing’, ‘Wastage’ and ‘No More Whips’.
Your donation helps to fund: the printing of banners, posters, leaflets, our website, spray chalk/car stencil kits and communications costs.
Larger costs include: purchasing photography equipment, (vital for our fieldwork e.g. documenting jumps racing cruelty) and our undercover investigations (such as knackery exposés).
Our Spring Racing campaigns are also funded primarily by the generousity of our supporters, and may include high profile billboards or televison ads to help us get the message out to as many people as possible.
CPR as an entity is not philosophically opposed to horse racing, CPR is opposed to the widespread cruelty within the racing industry, such as:
The public executions of racehorses in jumps racing
The beating of horses with the whip
The throwaway culture which sees thousands of thoroughbreds sent to a premature death each year, usually at a knackery or abattoir.
The racing of underdeveloped horses in 2 year old racing which often predisposes them to further injury and death
However in recent years after more than 12 years of research and engaging with the industry, it has become apparent that the industry is unwilling to properly address animal welfare concerns unless forced to. This has led us to the conclusion that horse racing is inherently cruel, exploitative and beyond redemption.
Having said that, whilst horse racing does persist, we will continue to work with the industry on ways to improve the lives of the horses it would not exist without whilst we also continue to raise public awareness through our investigations and our advocacy, educational campaigns.
CPR does not have a policy against horse riding or equestrian sports. We believe however that the rehoming and retraining of the few horses into other equestrian fields provides a good opportunity to reduce their likelihood of ending up a sale yard or slaughterhouse.
While the results that we achieve may not be immediately visible (especially to our newest supporters), progress is being made in several fronts including our major campaign areas.
The landscape is noticeably different to what it was some years ago when CPR was formed. No longer does the industry enjoy the reputation of being the 'Sport of Kings' as the truth behind the reality of horse racing is exposed.
We are currently working on a breakdown of our recent and longer term successes over the course of our campaigning, which will be published to this website shortly.
Most of the wastage statistics mentioned on this website are derived from basic calculations from the figures provided in the industry produced annual publication, the Australian Racing Fact Book, which can be viewed here
According to the statistics in these publications, the racing industry breeds approximately 13,000 thoroughbred horses every single year - although there has been significant and steady decline from 18,758 in 2005/2006. View reference – table 21
Currently, approximately 28,000 horses are used in racing - also in a slow but steady decline e.g. the 2009/10 Racing Australia Fact Book recorded that 31,776 horses were used in racing that year. View reference - table 56
If approximately 13,000 new horses are being bred for the industry every year, and the total number of horses in racing remains roughly the same, then the same number must also be leaving each year. A common argument by the racing industry is that these horses go into breeding, however there are two important factors to note:
1. Most male racehorses are geldings (unable to breed), and therefore of no use to the breeding industry.
2. The number of horses involved in breeding (both mares and stallions) has also been in a slow but steady decline eg. the number of mares used for breeding in 2007/08 was 30,240 – by 2018/19 it had reduced to 19,286. Consequently, for every new horse that enters the breeding industry (approx. 3,000 according to Renee Geelan 2014), at least one horse must also leave. Like the many other horses who vanish from the racing industry each year, there are no records kept as to where these breeding horses go when no longer of use. They make up part of the estimated wastage figure in Table 1 below.
In addition to using industry figures to estimate annual wastage numbers, CPR has also carried out detailed investigations on the ground. Over a two year investigation, concluding in 2019, one slaughterhouse which kills horses for human consumption was found to be killing 4,940 racing horses each year ((4056 Thoroughbreds and 884 Standardbreds). However, the figure is much more likely to be well over 5,000 as many of the horses may not have been identified due to poor lighting, the fading of the brand, and/or the direction the horse may have fallen. Considering there is a second slaughterhouse in South Australia that also kills horses and approximately 30 knackeries, CPR estimates that approximately 10,000 racehorses are killed in Australia every year. These figures are back up by industry figures in Table 1 above. Read more about our detailed investigation and our subsequent report here.
As the racing industry breeds without consequence, many horses are simply treated as economic commodities, and like any bad investment, are discarded of when no longer profitable.
There currently is no retirement plan for all racehorses, but CPR hopes to change this through our 1 % To Stop The Slaughter (Retirement Plan) campaign.
CPR is concerned about all horses that end up at knackeries but must direct its attention to the largest cause of wastage – the racing industry. Through exposing knackeries, most people are horrified and will reject the idea of sending their horses there. CPR’s focus on racehorses ultimately benefits more horses by bringing attention to the serious welfare concerns of sending any horse to the knackery.
In the case of a horse requiring euthanasia, CPR would urge horse owners to put the interests of the horse first and foremost and opt to have their horse euthanised by a vet (where sedation can be administered and make your horse’s passing as comfortable as possible) instead of sending them to a knackery where their suffering will be prolonged.
For an inside look at knackeries, please view our undercover investigation
CPR believes that the racing industry who is responsible for bringing these horses into the world owes then a lifelong duty of care. However, so long as they refuse, the very least they can do is to provide an alternative for these horses when they can no longer race. In August 2013, CPR submitted a Proposal for the Rehabilitation and Rehoming of Racehorses in Australia which uses 1% of betting turnover to help provide these alternatives, while also suggesting other initiatives to reduce breeding. In 2019, 1% would equate to $210 million annually to rehabilitate, retrain and rehome ex-racehorses.
Given that the racing industry would not exist without the racehorse, we believe that contributing just 1% back to the horse is the very least the industry can do.
Jump Racing Questions
Jumping sports like showjumping and cross country are competed in individually, where horse and rider are given appropriate space and time to negotiate a jump. Conversely, jumps racing sees a group of horses who are collectively racing at high speed trying to negotiate as many as 33 obstacles, over very long distances – a recipe for disaster. Combining jumping and racing simply cannot be made safe.
The number of people involved in jumps racing is so minimal that the economic impacts will be negligible. In Victoria in 2012, only 67 trainers participated in jumps racing and all of them also trained flat horses. In the same year, Victoria had only 27 jumps jockeys, again with most of them making their money through other forms of income such as track work.
Notwithstanding, high-weight flat racing is a suitable alternative for all of the jumps jockeys so their employment opportunities will not be compromised.
There is already a huge wastage problem within the racing industry as there is no retirement plan for all racehorses. Horses are already being sent to saleyards and knackeries out of convenience, however they argue that jumps racing saves horses.
It does not save horses when they will either be killed on the track or discarded when they can race no more. Jumps racing is nothing but a cruel detour before being sent to the knackery.
Furthermore, CPR has stated on numerous occasions that it will facilitate the rehoming of every jumps horse when it is banned.
No horse has to be sent to the knackery. However, most of them are, as it’s a convenient way to dispose of a horse that becomes a financial burden.
Jumps horses are profoundly hard to rehome, as they will often sustain injuries in the sport. Therefore, they are a lot less appealing in comparison to flat racers, and often difficult and very costly to rehabilitate.
This could be over-come if the racing industry adopted a national rehabilitation and re-homing program. Read more about our retirement plan for racehorses
This is a common argument used to support the continuation of jumps racing, however it is more an indictment on an industry that uses horses as disposable objects.
If the racehorse was destined for the knackery before they started their jumps career, they will almost certainly end up there after its over – if they survive.
Jumps racing is nothing more than a cruel detour on the way to slaughter in an attempt to make some extra money out of the horse before they are considered financially unviable.
In Australia, there are no horses that are specifically bred for jumps racing. Jumps horses are horses who have failed on the flat and are then retrained to run over obstacles.
There have been five reviews since 2001 to try to make jumps racing safe however horses still continue to fall and sometimes die on the racetrack at 20 times the rate of flat racing. More importantly they continue to sustain injuries at a very high rate which results in more than 50% of all jumps horses being replaced from one year to the next.
Jumps racing cannot be made safe. The only solution is to ban or phase out the sport as it has been in other states.
Horses are creatures of flight. In the wild, it is their instinct to follow a pack rather than stand alone as it makes them a target for nearby threat. Domesticated horses have not lost this innate survival habit, which is why when a horse loses their rider over a jump, the horse will seek to stay with the herd.