Australian racehorse awaits slaughter.

Queensland cruelty report on retired racehorses published

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MARCH AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER — The final report from the independent inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in Queensland was published last month, entitled:

The Queensland Government’s response to recommendations from the independent ‘Inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbred horses in Queensland’ (Martin Inquiry). February 2020.

In pdf format, it can be downloaded and printed here (22 pp). Or access the document’s source page at the Queensland Government Publications page here.


An urgent inquiry into the treatment of retired racehorses was ordered by the Queensland government, less than a week after an ABC report alleged widespread acts of animal cruelty against racehorses.

The 7.30 program showed graphic images of horses being beaten, kicked and shocked with electric prods while they lay dying in abattoirs, and raised questions about the racing industry’s claims about its rehoming program for racehorses.

“This was deeply disturbing, horrendous footage and I was just as appalled to witness it,” premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament.

The inquiry was headed by retired district court judge Terry Martin SC, with the support of Australian Veterinary Association representative Dr Peter Reid and oversight from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

“It is a necessary inquiry to provide Queenslanders with confidence that the racing industry is doing everything possible to ensure the welfare of horses,” Palaszczuk said.

“Animal welfare is everybody’s responsibility and my government will not stand for cruelty to animals.”

The inquiry examined regulatory and oversight arrangements for the management of retired racehorses and for the operation of facilities accepting horses for slaughter.

Source: The Guardian (UK)

Graphic footage shown from inside one of the abattoirs showed former racehorses being kicked, dragged and shocked on their way to their deaths, inciting top trainers, jockeys and others who work for the industry to make self-serving comments such as these:

Lee Freedman, a former top trainer, said he was “shocked at the revelations”, saying he was “broken-hearted” at the footage. “If we don’t make real changes, the court of public opinion will bury racing.”

Shocked, broken-hearted indeed . . .

Freedman’s reaction was echoed by jockey and trainer Michelle Payne (the first woman rider to win the Melbourne Cup) and leading jockey Jamie Kah:

“I’ll have nightmares forever after seeing these poor defenceless horses be tormented in these abattoirs,” Kah wrote. “How can these people working there sleep at night?”

Isn’t that rich? What do you mean, how can these people working there sleep at night? How can you sleep at night? You are the ones sending these horses to slaughter. They are your cast offs.

The harsh reality about horse racing is this. Horse racing doesn’t give a damn where their unwanted horses go so long as are just get rid of them. Those salty tears are for yourselves because you have been exposed and are terrified you may lose your livelihood.

It beggars belief.

“Let’s be absolutely clear. Slaughter is racing’s ‘retirement plan’ for thousands upon thousands of horses, not just in Oz, but around the world’, said Vivian Grant Farrell, founder of the Int’l Fund for Horses.

View “The Final Race: The Dark Side of the Horse Racing Industry” (Oct. 2019; 48 min.) at or below (YouTube, approx. 59 min.). It is gruesome viewing.

Warning: Graphic.

Related Reading

“Horse racing doesn’t have a ‘horse retirement’ problem — it has an overbreeding problem”, Animals Australia »

Here are some statistics from the above report. Sound familiar?

  • Up to fifteen thousand foals are bred every year in Australia.
  • Horses typically live for 25-30 years.
  • Horses spend an average of only three years racing before they are discarded.
  • And that’s if they make it to the racetrack — only 30% of horses born into racing each year actually start in a race.

Fund for Horses Logo

Updated Mar. 21, 2020, 9.20 pm EST

4 thoughts on “Queensland cruelty report on retired racehorses published”

  1. Peter V’landys, the CEO of Racing NSW has instituted legal proceedings in our Federal Court against the ABC, the hearing is due to commence in April 2020.
    He’s suing the ABC for defamation – he claims that he was ‘greatly injured’ for the way in which he was portrayed in the ABC expose of horses being shockingly slaughtered in the Queensland abattoir.
    It has been reported that his legal team have 65 pages of social media comments attacking him as a result of the expose.
    Legal constraints prevent me from giving my view, however, it will be interesting to see what happens with this case.


    1. Oh, poor old V’landys. Did all those nasty people hurt his feelings? Vivian would love to see the original Petition.

      Thank you for this additional and most relevant information. We will be keeping an eye out for the outcome of the April hearing. Please let us know if we miss anything in the interim!


  2. In my view, the Australian Veterinary Association has failed in its duty of care to the horses in the racing industry here. They know what the vets are doing to the horses in the industry – they license these vets so they can carry out their work. Not much of their work genuinely helps the horse. Much of it is not in the horse’s best interests. A while back a colleague wrote to the AVA with certain irrefutable evidence in relation to the welfare of the racehorse. The response from the AVA was most unsatisfactory. It appears that the AVA condones the veterinary treatments received by the racehorses and much of it makes a mockery of the main principle that vets must adhere to, and that is –
    ‘do no harm to the animal’


    1. Thank you Carolyn. We are not at all surprised about the AVA. We do not know of any racing jurisdiction that always puts the horse first.

      Is it true or not that veterinarians must take an “oath”? Just pretty words I suppose that at the end of the day are ignored. Some racing jurisdictions treat the horses better than others. Yet they all send them to slaughter. Racehorses are disposable objects to most.

      Our view is that it begins in the shed, and we are talking about numbers for a start. There should be breeding restrictions around the world.

      Additionally, there should be a worldwide ban on 2 yr old racing. Lasix should be banned across the racing world. These are just for starters.

      Perhaps banning horse racing outright is the only solution. Where there’s gambling there’s cheating. It is all incredibly ugly. And deadly to horses.

      Thank you again for keeping us up to date.


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