Let’s talk: Is horse racing cruel?

It’s one of the biggest days for celebration in Australia’s calendar, but not everyone is happy about the Melbourne Cup.

It’s one of the biggest days for celebration in Australia’s calendar, but not everyone is happy about the Melbourne Cup.

While thousands of people get ready have a punt and pop bottles of champagne, protestors have already gathered outside the gates of Flemington Racecourse and erected signs supporting the Horse Racing Kills campaign.

It’s a debate that seems to rear its head every year around this time: is horse racing cruel or not?

While many think of it has a bit of fun and a chance to get dressed up and drink before noon, others argue it is a cruel practice that is unfair on the animals and can sometimes push them to their death.

For those who are professionally invested in the sport comes the argument that the horses actually love to race as it is what they are bred for and it runs in their blood.

Thoroughbred horses are naturals when it comes to racing. Just like certain dog breeds love to round up cattle and hunt foxes, while others prefer to lounge at your feet and eat treats, different breeds of horses love different things.

Thoroughbreds are big, lean and the fastest in the business. It is in the DNA to gallop and many say they love the thrill of the race. But what happens when this thrill turns deadly.

The risk of injury when it comes to high-stakes races like the Melbourne Cup can be high and unfortunately, when a horse is injured it can quickly lead to death.

The huge financial cost involved in racing means that owners and trainers often don’t have the time or money to commit themselves to a horse after it is injured. If the horse can’t be re-homed or used for something else, they are sometimes put down.

Animals rights groups have been calling for an end to horse racing for years. Animals Australia notes the mental and physical stress that are put on race horses and says many injured race horses are regarded as “wastage” and are sent to slaughterhouses.

It seems most race-goers don’t think about the other side of racing though and every year the Melbourne Cup draws a huge crowd of punters and viewers around the country as people bet on who the winner will be and celebrate the jockey’s who ride them rather than thinking about the horses themselves.

What are your thoughts?

Do you think horse racing is cruel? Or is it ok when done properly?

  1. N.Hodgson  

    If greyhound racing can be reined in so can horse racing, it seems man exploits many animals for mimimal beneficial gain. We need to move on.

  2. rikda  

    I have concerns about the left/right factions of the Labor party.
    It takes a cannibalistic approach to ideology, keeping the best of either side in check as a compromise.
    Albanese is a stand out as a survivor of that rot. Tanya has too soft a presence for mine.
    The biggest problem the LNP has, is whose running it.
    I am sure it’s best people there are the soft line ideologues that actually do have a vision, where ambition & effort can work comfortably in an egalatarian partnership of the humanities.
    That person won’t come from the, blindly obedient to the oligarchs, that make up the currant cabinet.
    We are in trouble.

  3. Marshall  

    Of course it’s cruel!

    Thoroughbreds are ‘designer’ horses.
    They’re bred for speed.

    Unfortunately, in the breeding process, they’re SO finely ‘tuned’ that problems’ exist.
    For one, their shin-bones’ can ‘snap’ very easily.
    No cure.
    Bullet through the brain, or euthanasia is the outcome.

    Being belted with whips, hurts them.

    Horse racing can’t be stopped.
    It’s the source of millions $ income directly to several 1000’s persons’ in this Country.

  4. Qorx  

    No. Horse racing is not cruel. Anyone who handles, rides, or knows Thoroughbreds will attest that TB’s are a competitive breed. They like to run. They will race each other in a paddock without someone ””’whipping them with belts””. I know a TB who will race his shadow. Their cannon bones (not “”””Shin””” bones) are, as the above writer mentions, are light, as is everything else about the TB. Their skin is half the thickness of other breeds. They’re bred for speed. But I can tell you, the horse that does not want to run, won’t. Just flat out WON’T. there are plenty of TBs in barns that were retired when the gate opened and they trotted out. Being “Whipped with belts” didn’t make them go faster, nor does it make them want to race. Those whips, by the way, might sting, but it’s more the threat of the whip, and the pop of it on a flank, that redirects the horse. A horse that costs millions of dollars that comes back with welts on his flanks is going to be given a new jockey. Jockeys with reputations for beating a horse are usually not jockeys for very long. Here in the US jockeys that leave welts on their horses are fined and often, banned from riding.
    Where the cruelty enters is the HUMANS doing the handling of the horses. They’ve spent a lot of money on a horse and when it doesn’t race the way they want, THEN the shenanigans begin. I’m not saying that’s not a lot of manipulation and crooked techniques that go on in the shed row, but that’s the HUMANS, not the horses. TB’s love to run. It’s when the humans who are willing to abuse the animal is when it becomes cruel. So don’t blame the racing industry. Blame the greed of the individual owner/trainer. Blame the bettor who doesn’t want to hear his horse is lame, or sick, or just isn’t up to the challenge. Follow the money, and you will see where the cruelty comes into play.

  5. Knut  

    Thoroughbreds were bred to run. That didnt happen overnight. Breeders saw what horse wanted to run and bred to other horses that wanted to run, and did so. I have not seen a TB suffer stress from racing, if anything the stress they feel is when they can’t race or run on occasions when they aren’t being raced. Yes it is true, many broken down Thoroughbreds are put down and sent to slaughter, but there is just as many who are rescued from the track and turned into decent, well trained riding horses.
    People want to go to the track to get drunk, that’s not the horses fault or even the owners. It betting what does it. Racing at first wasn’t a betting game, it was a contest between owners. Its when betting came into the race where things got bad. People stopped seeing the horse as an living thing and more as a way to make money.
    You could say that purposefully breeding dogs that are malformed: basset hounds, pekingnese, dachshunds is cruel. Ah, now I see you bristling, because YOUR dog is one of the hideously transformed breeds that once were used for specific purposes: for instance, bassets were used to drag rabbits out of their holes. Foxhounds, while not malformed, were bred to tear a fox to pieces after running it to exhaustion. Some breeds were bred with deformities for fashion. Others to kill other animals because a human thought it sporting. Is that cruel? I think so. But I bet I will draw plenty of flames for my comments, because you won’t like it when I call you out. Don’t throw stones.

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