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NSW Leads The Way On Racehorse Welfare

Since our inception in 2008, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses has continued to campaign for a better life for all racehorses. Always at the forefront of our concerns has been the slaughter of thousands of failed and former racehorses when no longer profitable.

Before animal welfare campaigners like us began exploring the issues within horse racing – the industry was accountable to nobody. Welfare initiatives – if any – were few and far between, and their dark secrets were hidden under a veil of secrecy to the public.

Until they weren’t.

In 2012, we exposed the routine slaughter of ex-racehorses at a Melbourne knackery. And since then, we’ve continued to release investigations at saleyards, knackery holding yards and slaughterhouses – where the glitz and the glamour has been left far behind them. It’s a side of horse racing that the public had never seen before.

Since then, programs like “Off The Track” that promote the thoroughbred after racing have continued to pop up, and while an important and worthwhile initiative, they fail to address the problem at large.

However, in the past 12 months, Racing NSW has taken on the problem head on. And frankly, the other state racing bodies could learn a thing or two from them. This is what they’ve done:

  1. Announced 1% of prize money would go towards a racehorse retirement plan
    Sound familiar? This is something we’ve been pushing for nationally through our 1% to stop the slaughter proposal.
  1. Purchased a 2600-acre property to house ex-racehorses
    A huge issue facing ex-racehorses is the lack of homes or properties for them to be ‘let down’ before being rehomed. And even if this helps just a few of them, it’s a great start.
  1. Put forward a ban on racehorses going slaughter
    It’s yet to be ratified by the board, and we’re still waiting on details about whether they will ensure horses aren’t just simply sent interstate for slaughter, or temporarily rehomed before going to an abattoir. But it’s a promising concept.

And just in case you’ve ever felt like speaking out for racehorses  (whether it be online or at a protest) was ineffective, this is what an industry representative said when announcing the changes:

“Racing NSW has committed to a multi-million-dollar expansion of its racehorse welfare program as it moves to stave off pressure from an increasingly influential animal rights lobby.”

Pretty. Damn. Cool. Now for the rest of the country!

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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.

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Our newest campaign

You might have seen our newest campaign – street art across Melbourne. Our design is stenciled on with spray chalk, so it’s a totally legal way of sending a strong message. Get in touch with us via Facebook or email if you’d like to get involved.

While crowds were cheering on a winner at the Caulfield Cup on Saturday, a lesser-known horse at a lesser-known track in South Australia collapsed and died after rupturing a major blood vessel.

RIP Caprivi Strip. Is the party really worth it?