BY RHIANN MOORE
Animal Aid, with the assistance of cosmetic superheroes Lush, have set out to end horse racing in Britain. Through their campaign they are hoping to expose the salacious details of Thoroughbred deaths, approximately 200 horses a year, end the Grand National, provide proper provision for horses when they can no longer race and to ban the whip. If all that seems like it should be a given, it never has been before. Stories by PETA, The Atlantic and others have consistently attempted to expose the abusive nature of the industry, but there is a distinct lack of change due to the lack of widespread conversation of the public. The perception of horse racing is often that of a romantic, old world sport – one people assume is properly run and monitored.
The sad fact is that the horses who are found fit enough to race are typically forced to do so until death or injury. Even more so thousands more are killed off because they are unwanted, seen as unfit to race. And while the industry hopes for the public to view horse betting as something fun and frivolous, it’s a cruel business that uses animals exclusively for profit. While the 50% of horses found fit to race may seem like the lucky ones, they are only subjected to more cruelty once the competition begins. They are forced to endure unrelenting whippings to keep them racing when they are far past too exhausted and they are not allowed to stop until death or injury forces them.
When racehorses inevitably suffer a broken leg, back, neck or pelvis, or have a heart attack, they are killed for it. Which is especially ridiculous when considering the fact that the breeding done in the industry is done to create the fastest possible horses at the complete expense of their general health and bone strength. Even if a horse makes it to the racecourse and manages not to get injured, if they fail to win and are seen as non-profitable they are typically killed anyways – whether for their meat or not.
Despite all this any exposure the industry receives is solved through quick fixes such as firing the single trainer accused rather than reassessing the nature of the industry as a whole. Horse racing is rarely thought of as such a ruthless ground for animal abuse outside of activist circles. Animal Aid has been working for years to change the public perception, and has had some success, but the issue is one that needs far more attention than it receives. The problem mainly being that people who are not involved in the industry itself don’t think about it unless in the context of gambling – but that’s easy to change. As with all issues deemed too sensitive to discuss in these unstable times, animal abuse needs to be brought to the forefront of conversation. Read up on the subject, engage in conversations with the people around you and donate (time or money).