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Life After Racing

Posted: 19th Apr 2016

If you have a spare 5 minutes please read!

And please Share to get the word out. And a big Thank you to Jessica Moodie for taking the time to write the below and for her insight on these issues...

After another fabulous Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington I would love to share some information with you all about animal welfare in horse racing.

It’s very rare that I actually pipe up about anything on Facebook but having grown up in and around the racing industry there is nothing I am more passionate about. Sadly there seems to be a lot of false information spread in the media about how we treat our horses, which is very hurtful and upsetting. I won’t argue or attempt to change your mind about us but I think you’d be interested to learn how outrageous the information being spread truly is.

First and foremost, we take the welfare of our horses seriously. Racing Victoria employs 60 vets across the state to care for horses at every single race, every single day. Racing Victoria spends $2 million each year on equine welfare and veterinary services, resources and initiatives, plus an additional $1.7 million on medication control. This is exclusive of what owners and trainers would spend taking care of their horses. As you can imagine, it is typically these people who have personally cared for the horses that are most distraught about any death, accidental or not, whether this occurs on or off the racecourse.

Secondly, the horse safety rate in the past decade has averaged 99.95% with fatal accidents occurring in just 0.049% of starts. Last year approximately 8,800 horses raced on Victorian tracks, starting a total of 43,000 times (each horse had approximately 5 starts). There were 25 fatalities. Our safety standards are absolutely world class meaning our fatality rate is one of the lowest in the world. In contrast, the USA has recorded a 0.15-0.25% fatality rate on the flat track.

We have a compulsory retirement rule meaning owners must notify Racing Victoria when a horse is being retired. Data shows that over 90% of our horses have been retired to equestrian, pleasure and breeding industries. In fact, this year the Royal Melbourne Show saw 100 retired racehorses compete in equestrian events where the prestigious Garryowen was won by a thoroughbred for the fourth consecutive year.

However, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses claims that, “the racing industry does not have a retirement plan. This results in thousands of racehorses being sent to the knackeries and slaughterhouses where they’re killed for dog meat and human consumption,” and that, “nearly all the horses that leave the stud will be killed for meat.” They also suggest that 18,000 thoroughbreds exit the racing industry each year and that “the throwaway culture in the racing industry encourages people to send their horses to slaughter, as it is often an issue of convenience not compassion.” This 18,000 figure is supposedly obtained from a 2004 study completed by Hayek. However, if you actually read the report it estimates that 650 thoroughbred racing horses were sent to the knackery Australia-wide during the year of study (p.88).

Meanwhile, Animals Australia says that, “you can count on one or two hands the Melbourne Cup winners who now graze on beautiful paddocks in their retirement.” Now, I actually had to question whether this was a joke or not but you can find five of them here and you can even go say hello and get your photo taken with them.

There have been a total of four equine fatalities in the past 21 years immediately after the running of the Melbourne Cup. Admire Rakti suffered heart failure following the race, which is incredibly rare and only occurs in 0.007% of starters in Victoria. Last season only 2 horses suffered sudden death on raceday and sadly there is currently no way this can be predicted and therefore prevented. Racing Victoria acknowledges that more research is needed in this area.

Given the messages spread by both the CPR and Animals Australia garner a lot of public attention I thought it would be best to contact them to see what they do to better the lives of our beautiful horses. The CPR does not re-home retired racehorses, “because [they] are a lobby group.” But if you’d like to help you can print off a poster or donate to the organisation. Animals Australia does not rehome ex-racehorses either and redirected me to the CPR to find out more about the issue.

So, take a look at a short-listed top 10 ex-racehorse rehoming organisations in Victoria:

I would urge you to support these organisation rather than those who don’t actively participate in the re-homing of racehorses.

Anyone that wants the best for our horses has good intentions, but I would encourage you to dig a little deeper before jumping to conclusions.

*All figures that don’t belong to the CPR or Animals Australia have been obtained from a little bird at Racing Victoria.

PS. The horse in the below photo is called Denver Dan. Although he was destined to be a successful racehorse he suffered a career ending injury after only starting in one race. As a matter of compassion, Denver Dan is now living out a happy retirement in a paddock that is undoubtedly bigger than the block of land you live on.

By Jessica Moodie.