Melbourne loves the Spring Racing Carnival. I was 9 years old when I picked my first Melbourne Cup winner – Think Big – and I picked him in both 1974 and 1975 (but never picked a winner again).
Lots of people are once-a-year punters, and some even get so engrossed in the excitement and glamour that they buy a share in a racehorse, hoping to make a killing with the next Makybe Diva or Black Caviar – and I’m pretty sure they have no idea just how much killing is involved (good pun, eh?).
Gambling on a foal
Racehorse breeding is really a kind of gambling itself. Every little foal born has the chance of being a little pot of gold, so the industry breeds huge numbers of racehorses every year (around 18,000 each year*), just to increase the odds of finding the next racing star.
They’re not good odds for the foals – only about 300 out of every 1000 of these little horses will actually even be suited to racing.
There are around 12,600 horses leftover!
If they make it to racing
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) have also reported that of the horses that do race, “one Australian Study found that approximately 40% earned no money at all and only 13% earned enough money to cover costs”.
So where do they all go?
What do you do with all those horses? It would be great if all these horses could be re-homed with caring owners, but horses are a big commitment, and there just aren’t enough homes that can take them. In fact, only about 100 horses can be re-homed every year.
So where do they go?
- To stud. For every horse sent to stud, one leaves (most going to the knackery)
- Riding schools or private owners
- Horse rescue shelters (but at around $4000 a year, there are limits)
- Abattoirs to be killed for human consumption overseas (younger horses)
- Knackery to be killed for pet food (older horses)
After taking into account the horses who go to breeding, riding schools, private ownership and horse rescue shelters, the CPR have estimated that every year about 18,000 horses end up at the knackery or at the abattoir.
Remember, we’re not just talking about old horses who have reached the end of their life – we’re also talking about young, healthy horses who just aren’t much good at racing.
This hardly seems like a decent retirement plan for the animals that are the focus of a multi-million dollar industry!
What can we do?
Luckily, the CPR has come up with a plan: 1% to Stop the Slaughter.
They are proposing that just ONE PERCENT of racing turnover (that’s 1 cent for every dollar you bet) go towards rehabilitating, re-training and re-homing the leftover horses.
It really seems like the very least that should be done for these animals who earn so much money for the industry.
The website and the petition
If you agree, or it you want to know more, get onto their website at the links below. There’s lots of information and a petition you can sign to add your voice to the call for a decent retirement plan for unwanted racehorses.
- Read about the problem.
- This is what the retirement plan proposed by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.
Spread the word
Since we’re in the middle of Spring Racing Carnival, try to spread the word if you can. Most people seem to have no idea of the extent of the problem – I know I didn’t until a few weeks ago.
Wide public support for ‘1% to stop the slaughter’ might just persuade the Victorian Racing Club that they must take responsibility for the care of these horses.
*All facts and figures in this post are taken from the website of the Coaltion for the Protection of Racehorses website.
Watch a short video about one of the lucky minority.