And they’re racing!

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).

Man in suit holding two glasses of wine.

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.

One dollar in change.

Only $1 out of every $100 bet would be needed to care for the ‘waste’ horses and prevent them going to slaughter.

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.

Spread the word

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses pamphlet

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is raising awareness about horse racing’s ‘wastage’.

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.

Read a recent article from the Age Good Weekend.

Watch a short video about one of the lucky minority.

Track Wiz from Horse Racing Kills on Vimeo.

I Love Racing from Horse Racing Kills on Vimeo.

8 thoughts on “And they’re racing!

  1. What a thoughtful, informative post. I had no idea about the breeding practices behind the racing industry. It’s disgusting, wasteful and cruel. Thanks for raising awareness here, I need to do a bit more reading and spread the word…. puts a bit of a dampener on Melbourne Cup day, I’ll never think the same way about the spring carnival again! xx

    • Yeah, it was quite a shock to me, but when I thought about it, I realised I probably should have figured it out already. You’re right, the Melbourne Cup will never be the same for me again.

    • If they can get enough support for it, it will be a great step in the right direction. It’s been getting a fair bit of publicity here, but I’m not sure how likely it is to be accepted. Fingers crossed!

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