The Shocking Number Of Racehorses Killed This Year

The racing year ends on July 31 every year, and starts again on August 1, also known as the ‘Horses’ Birthday’. The racing industry deems it a time of celebration – but is it?

4 years ago, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses began researching the number of racehorses that died on Australian racetracks every year. We knew there was a lot, we would read about them in the media, receive messages to our Facebook page from the public and concerned participants – and we even saw horses continue to die in the Melbourne Cup. But we never expected so many.

Since the commencement of our annual ‘Deathwatch Report’ – horses have continued to die at alarming rates. And this year, it’s no different.

In fact, it’s the worst year on record.

From the racing year of 1 August 2016 until 31 July 2017, a shocking 137 racehorses died on Australian racetracks. That’s one racehorse every 2.6 days.

75 of these racehorses died of catastrophic limb injuries – breaks, tears and fractures of their forelegs. But horses also died of hind leg injuries, cardiac arrests, massive bleeds — even head trauma.

Almost half of them had raced as 2-year-olds; pre-disposing them to long term cumulative injury further on down the track if they didn’t die young.

The shocking full report is available to download and read here.

But these deaths are just the tip of the iceberg – many thousands more are killed when they finish their racing ‘careers’ and no longer profitable. These horses are known as wastage.

As more and more information about the ugly side of the racing industry coming to light, it’s no wonder that there’s a growing number of people choosing not to support horse racing cruelty. So with the Spring Racing Carnival fast approaching, remember that making kind choices can change the world for racehorses.

5 reasons Racing Australia must now ban the whip too

In a world first, Harness Racing Australia has announced they will ban the whip in racing and even training from September 2017 onwards. It’s incredible news – and now it’s time for Racing Australia to follow and ban the whip in thoroughbred racing. Here’s why.

1. Whips hurt (duh)

Horses can feel a fly when it lands on their sensitive skin, so of course they can also feel the repetitive pelting of a whip. And in 2016, science proved that when a Catalyst program found that whips hurt racehorses.

2. The rules don’t work

The. Rules. Don’t. Do. Anything. Racing proponents will be quick to interject “but we have RULES to prevent over-whipping in horse racing”. But the penalty is far too small for jockeys to be truly deterred from belting their horses across the finish line, with many owners publicly stating that they will pay their jockeys whipping fines because they want their horse ridden out.

In fact, on Melbourne Cup Day in 2016, there was over 7 whipping fines and reprimands at the one race meet alone.

And two weeks before that, one jockey pled guilty to intentionally striking his horse over the head in a race. Not once – but twice.

3. Because if you did it to any other animal – you would be fined (or even jailed)

Under animal welfare legislation, it is an offence to whip an animal.

But the racing industry is exempt from these rules. And its time that changed.

4. 79% of Australians agree

A Herald Sun poll conducted on the December 11 following the harness racing whip ban found that 79% of voters want to see a ban on the whip in all horse racing.

5. Because, putting it simply, it’s the right thing to do

Horse racing operates on a social license, and recent years have shown that more and more people will no longer tolerate animal cruelty. The racing industry is their own worst enemy if they don’t ban this most public display of animal cruelty.

VICTORY: Whips to be banned in harness racing!

Whips hurt racehorses. There’s no doubt about it. And science even proves it.

Now, in a world-first, Harness Racing Australia has voluntarily decided to phase out and ban the whip. Not just in races – but on training tracks and stables, too.

In even more good news, the decision was made purely on animal welfare decisions, with industry representatives saying “There is compelling evidence these days that society will not tolerate continued cruelty towards animals.”

Too right! And that’s what happens when we stand up & speak out about cruelty to animals.

Now it’s time for the thoroughbred racing industry to do the right thing by its horses and follow. You can read our proposal for the phase out of the whip here.


3 ways you can help racehorses on Melbourne Cup Day

If you think the race that stops the nation is no cause for celebration, here are 3 really awesome ways you can help racehorses on Melbourne Cup Day.

1. Volunteer
There are sanctuaries across the country who are constantly cleaning up the mess of the racing industry by rescuing failed & former racehorses.

But maintaining and looking after them isn’t an easy task, and those caring for them can always use a helping hand.

Make a commitment to volunteer with your local horse rescue or animal sanctuary instead of watching the racing on Melbourne Cup Day!

2. Donate / hold a fundraiser
This one is a sure bet.

Instead of putting money on the big race, why not commit to donate what you’d spend to an animal welfare group or sanctuary? Your money could go towards anything you choose – from long term campaigns for a racehorse retirement plan, to feed and vet care for an ex-racehorse at a sanctuary.

You can’t lose out when you’re putting your money on a kinder world for racehorses!

3. Attend a protest
The only way that we will change the way horses are being treated in the racing industry is by raising awareness and keeping up the pressure!

If there’s a protest in your area, head on down to show your support.

If you’d like to hold a protest, contact us, and we’d be more than happy to support. You can also download banners and posters on our resources page.

7 facts about horse racing that will change how you feel about the Melbourne Cup forever

Horse racing struggles to maintain relevance throughout the year. Some people don’t even realise it runs outside of Spring. If you enjoy a flutter and a drink or two at the races, these hidden facts will make you reconsider.

1. Thousands of failed racehorses are slaughtered each year
Nothing says “we love our horses” like sending thousands of them to slaughter every year, right? While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Melbourne Cup winner at your local knackery or slaughterhouse, there are 13,000 racehorses exiting the racing industry every year… And the majority of them aren’t the winners you see on the TV or in the newspaper during Spring Carnival.

In Australia there are multiple knackeries in every state that process failed and former racehorses for pet food, as well as two abattoirs that kill horses for human consumption in South Australia and Queensland. Some of their ‘horse steaks’ are served in a select few Melbourne restaurants, but the majority are exported to European countries like Belgium and France.

2. Racehorses die on the track … regularly
Unless you live ~under a rock~ you will have heard about the four Melbourne Cup deaths over the past three years. The industry would have you believe these are ‘freak accidents’ and ‘rarely occur’, right? Wrong.

One racehorse dies less than every 3 days in Australia. 116 racehorses have died since last year’s Melbourne Cup on 3 November 2015. They most commonly suffer catastrophic limb injuries, cardiac arrests and massive bleeds causing them to collapse and die. We compile them all in our deathwatch report, which you can read here.

3. Studies have shown whips hurt
One of the most public displays of animal cruelty.

While the RSPCA would be quick to charge you for whipping your dog, cat or rabbit – whipping in horse racing is exempt from this rule, even normalised and celebrated, despite the fact studies have shown whips hurt racehorses.

4. Jumps racing is 20 times more dangerous than flat racing
Jumping. While. Racing. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

While there are no jumps races at official Spring Carnival events anymore, they do run throughout the season. Jumps racing is 20 times more dangerous than flat racing and kills multiple horses every single year when they fall on their heads and necks, or break their limbs.

Paying for a ticket to the races supports this.

5. Less ‘valuable’ foals are discarded
‘Nanny’ mares are kept in foal in order to have a milk supply, and when a prized broodmare dies giving birth to a thoroughbred foal, the nanny mare will step in to raise the thoroughbred ‘foster’ foal, and their own biological foal is discarded.

They are the bobby calves of the racing industry. And it’s a practice barely spoken about, but you can read the story of one lucky survivor here.

6. Some participants use drugs
With so much money at stake in horse racing, it’s no wonder that some owners and trainers resort to using drugs on their racehorses.

The recent cobalt saga with numerous high profile trainers is just one example of using stimulants to push horses beyond their physical capabilities.

7. Horses are raced before their bodies are mature enough
A famous trainer once said “Two year olds, as we know, can be here today and gone tomorrow.”

It’s the perfect way to sum up 2-year-old racing. What good can come of racing young horses well before they are skeletally mature? And who would want to support that?

Instead of going to the races, on Melbourne Cup Day take part in something to help racehorses. Find out how here.

5 reasons to never place a bet again

Going to the races might seem like harmless fun. But hidden behind the glitz of racing are hundreds of dead racehorses. This is the story of just 5 of them.

1. Hazy Blur
Hazy Blur died only days ago. You won’t have heard about her death because it wasn’t in a big race like the Melbourne Cup. She broke her fetlock 500 metres from the finish line. She is just one of the racehorses that dies less than every 3 days on Australian racetracks.

2. Secret Stealth
Secret Stealth was 10. Years. Old. He won over $179,000 for his owners. But while racing in Cairns just a few months ago, he fractured his shoulder and was killed.

3. Da Vine Warrior
Da Vine Warrior was only 3 years old when his life ended. In his short career he had already been brought over from New Zealand to race in Australia, commenced on the track at just 2 years old in NSW when he was not skeletally mature. He collapsed and died of a cardiac arrest on a South Australian racetrack in September this year.

4. Caprivi Strip
While crowds were cheering on a winner at this year’s Cox Plate, on the same day at a different racetrack, Caprivi Strip suffered a massive internal bleed and died. Right then and there on the course.

5. Arwoc
Arwoc died in a jumps race at the start of Spring Carnival. He fell and broke his leg at a country racetrack far from the gates of Flemington. He was the 40th horse to die in jumps racing since Racing Victoria backflipped on their decision to end the sport in 2010.

While no official Spring Carnival events hold jumps races anymore, you can bet your ticket to the Melbourne Cup is paying for the continuation of this cruel ‘sport’ that’s banned on animal cruelty grounds in other states.

Glamorous, right?

These horses are just 5 of 116 racehorses who have died on Australian racetracks since the 2015 Melbourne Cup. And they are five good reasons to never place a bet again.

Wondering what you can do on Melbourne Cup Day without funding this cruelty? We’ve got you covered.