racing horse scandal

Australian racing cruelty scandal

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Horse racing fans exposed to some inconvenient truths

The recent Australian racing cruelty scandal has exposed horse racing fans and the general public at large to some inconvenient truths about the dark side of horse racing. Thanks to a two year long investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC News). Shocking footage aired on the ABC’s news channel and shared across social media. The footage left people horrified at the treatment of former racehorse.

Their undercover investigation showed footage e of healthy racehorses being beaten and kicked. Horses were stabbed with electric prods and kicked whilst they lay dying after being shot in the head with bolts. Trapped in what the slaughter industry calls kill boxes the horse which can barely move are grimly killed in front of other defenceless animals that can only wait for their turn. Some of the horse being slaughtered where younger than two years old.   

The Meat from the slaughtered horses is sold mostly as pet food, even ending up to feed their fellow racers the greyhounds. Some of the meat is sold overseas for human consumption.  

This exposé along with other recent scandals such as several race day deaths has led to escalated scrutiny of the horse racing industry.

The industries reaction

Racing Australia released an Equine welfare statement on the 17th of October 2019 in response to ABC’s TV 7:30 segment.

‘’Racing Australia shares the outrage at the appalling images of the gross mistreatment of horses revealed in the program,’’ the statement said

The statement also said ‘’Each year State and Territory racing authorities invest tens of millions of dollars in integrity, veterinary services and equine welfare programs to try and achieve the best possible outcomes for horses.’’

chief executive of Racing NSW (New South Wales) Peter V’landy responded by saying if NSW racehorse were being sent to slaughter the state body would “put the full force of the law” against offenders.

Racing Australia, the governing body introduced a traceability rule in 2016 that required the registration and tracking of all horse from birth to retirement. But once they have retired the tracking stops.

The future of racing

Animal rights campaigners state that one of the main problems of the horse racing industry is over breeding. A virtual conveyor belt producing thousands of foals every year not all of which make it as racehorses. Therefore, a common inevitability for those young horse is the slaughter house.

Dr Jones of RSPCA Australia says that training and racing practises need to be revised to minimize the risk of injury. Injury is the leading cause of premature retirement among race horses. He also wants to phase out the routine use of the whip during races.

Staged protests outside the racing venues of Australia are becoming more common. Celebrities such as Taylor swift are cancelling scheduled appearances or refusing to go in the first place.

These boycotts will no doubt continue to grow as the rise of veganism continues. Change will happen as the general public are made more aware of the truth behind the racing industry. The industry will also continue to fund and think of new ways to better protect the horse welfare. If only to avoid more scandals in the future.

But unfortunately such is the popularity of horse racing, the industry as a whole is in no danger of ending anytime soon. With the amount of money involved in the sport the breeders will continue to breed and the horses will continue to be slaughtered. One can only hope that standards improve dramatically for the horses.

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