Ex-racehorses to be rehomed rather than slaughtered under new Queensland plan

An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )

ABATTOIR TO BE LAST RESORT

Australian flag icon.

Queensland racehorse owners will have to prove they have tried to rehome their animals multiple times before they can apply to send them to slaughter, under recommendations set to be implemented by the State Government.

Key points:

  • An independent inquiry made 37 recommendations to reduce horse slaughter
  • A racehorse rehoming scheme will be funded by a levy on prize money
  • The State Government wants the Commonwealth to create a national horse register

The overhaul in the treatment of retired racehorses is a key recommendation of an inquiry into the sector, after the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed hundreds of the animals were being sent to slaughterhouses, in contravention of racing rules.

The 7.30 story also exposed multiple allegations of mistreatment of racehorses at a Queensland abattoir, including being lashed, kicked and stomped on.

The independent inquiry, conducted by retired District Court judge Terry Martin, recommended boosting Queensland’s Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) to reduce the numbers of horses being sent to slaughter.

Abattoir to be Last Resort

QRIC, along with Racing Queensland, will also establish and run a rehoming scheme to ensure horses find a new life after racing retirement.

“It will require owners to make two genuine attempts to rehome the animal, before they can consider euthanasia,” QRIC boss Ross Barnett said on Monday.

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Um, just to be clear, slaughter is no way, shape or form a type of euthanasia. It is a brutal and terrifying death. Additionally, who is going to be the arbiter of the two strikes and you go to slaughter proviso? — Editor, Tuesday’s Horse

CCTV to be mandatory in all Queensland slaughterhouses

Lydia Lynch, reporting for the The Brisbane Times writes:

Queensland’s Agriculture Minister is confident CCTV cameras will be installed in slaughterhouses across the state by the next election in response to an inquiry into the treatment of retired racehorses.

Minister Mark Furner hoped he could come to agreements with abattoirs around the state “within a matter of months” to install CCTV cameras at “critical animal welfare points”.

“No doubt the next step would be looking at legislation to make sure that is fully enforceable as well,” he said.

The inquiry’s report, announced in October, was made public on Monday and made 55 recommendations that the state government supports in full, or in principle.

Opposition racing spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said he did not trust the government would act on the inquiry’s report and said the government was yet to implement all 15 recommendations from a 2015 inquiry into greyhound racing.

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Why we call for an end to U.S. horse racing

Racehorse in red hood. The Horse magazine online.

We call for an end to U.S. horse racing because it is past reforming. The horse has bolted.

Additionally, there appears to be no one in American horse racing genuinely interested in, or knowledgeable and capable of, reforming it. If we are wrong then show us who they are, what they purport to do and when they are going to start doing it.

In the meantime horse racing apologists, please do not trot out that piece of feeble legislation, The Horse Racing Integrity Act, as an example. It will not remedy the problems it is chiefly designed for in the long term. Once the drug authority comes in and sets it all up, it puts U.S. horse racing back in charge. The Horse Racing Integrity Act is a fox guarding the henhouse piece of legislation. It is a smoke and mirrors tactic designed to give the appearance of reform.

Then there is the breeding aspect of horse racing where all of this really begins.

Modern American racehorses are bred to breakdown, and as a result are constantly breaking down. They will continue to do so until the American racehorse has been bred to restore balance and durability. Trying to get and keep racehorses on the racecourse the way they are bred now is the major contributing factor for the drugging, doping and debilitating “therapies” practiced on them.

How about the tens of thousands of racehorses who are sent to a grisly and terrifying death by slaughter. What about them? And what about the persistent rumors of horse racing employed lobbyists buying off politicians in Washington DC to keep the SAFE Act banning horse slaughter from passing.

How does American horse racing stay in business? Gambling, baby, gambling. Oh, and let’s not forget those tasty millions of State governmental subsidies. Your tax dollars at work.

We conclude with this. The only way to protect racehorses from the cruel and fatal practices of American horse racing is to end horse racing. What else is there?

We didn’t invite ourselves to this day. Horse racing has brought us here.
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“The horse has bolted” is an English expression which means someone trying to prevent something from happening, but have done so too late to prevent damage from being done.

That’s what freedom looks like

Grey Mustang Stallion by Randy Harris. See randyharrisphoto.com.

by VIVIAN FARRELL

My Dad was a single parent. He took me with him everywhere. One of those places was Las Vegas.

There wasn’t a lot for a 15 year old to do in Las Vegas. So when I asked him what I was going to do while we were there, he said something like, “You’re a smart kid. Find something. Just stay out of trouble.” So I went for a walk, looking for something that didn’t look like trouble.

I came across a sort of caravan, flea bitten looking mini bus sort of thing, with a handwritten cardboard sign that said “Wild Horse Tours”. There was an older gentleman standing nearby. I asked him about it and he told me for $5 he takes people out to see the wild horses. Having grown up with horses literally from birth, I was immediately fascinated by the idea, and knew I just had to go. So I eagerly gave him the $5 and climbed aboard.

As soon as he had enough people, we took off. We drove for some time. I started getting a bit nervous. We were in the middle of what seemed like nowhere.

Then our guide pulled over, parked and told us to get out and make ourselves comfortable. On some boulders. We sat there for a good long while. I am not sure how long now, but to a teen it seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, getting up he gruffly said, “I don’t think we’re going to see anything today”. As we got up and started dusting ourselves off, he whirled around and started shouting excitedly, “Wait. Do you feel that? Do you feel that?”

I didn’t discern anything at first, but then I began feeling what the old gentleman did. The ground had begun to move, to shake, ever so subtly. I asked myself, am I imagining this because of what he just said, or . . . ? Then it became stronger and more perceptible. “There”, he shouted, excitedly pointing to what look like dust clouds on the ground way off in the distance. I was transfixed. My breathing became shallow, my spine started tingling and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

Next we heard the unmistakable sound of hooves, distant but there, as the dust clouds got nearer. It seemed to go on forever. Then suddenly out of those clouds we saw emerging a band of Mustangs.

I took in a sharp intake of breath as I caught sight of them. It was electrifying. Remarkably, as far off as they were, we could not only see them but also hear them, their leader calling and his band responding.

Then for a moment they slowed down, then stopped for the briefest of moments, the lead horse angling his head around, listening intently and sniffing the air. My heart seemed to stop with them. Next the stallion pounded the earth with his front hooves, his magnificent neck arched toward it, and reared up and pawed the air. It was as majestic a sight as you could ever hope to see.

Before I could really take it all in, the stallion and his band took off again quickly beginning to disappear into the vastness and out of sight. Breathlessly watching them I remember saying to myself, “That’s what freedom looks like”. I looked around at our group to see their reaction and many were in tears, including our guide. He wiped his face and eyes with the back of his hand and said, “Dang. They never fail to get to me every time.”

It was an indelible experience. In that splendid capsule of time I witnessed and felt with all my being how it truly must feel to be free, truly free.

I learned something else that day in Nevada. The desire to live freely and unmolested is universal. All creatures share it. And that freedom is yearned for and longed for by every horse, whether domestic or in the wild. This has strongly impacted my beliefs about all horses.

When I started my horse protection organization decades later — to combat horse slaughter to begin with — I became acquainted with the many cruelties carried out against horses. Learning about the plight of America’s wild horses and burros left me stunned and heartbroken, witnessing humans robbing our Mustangs of what is rightfully theirs.

Preakness stakes entry Bodexpress unseats his jockey in the starting stall and comes home free.
Preakness stakes entry Bodexpress unseats his jockey in the starting stall and comes home free.

When racehorse Bodexpress dumped his jockey in this year’s Preakness, leaving him on the ground in the starting gate and galloping riderless down the track, I knew exactly what the horse was feeling. Freedom. You could see his elation. The commentators of course didn’t see it that way at all. Predictably, they said the horse was simply completing the race because that’s what racehorses do. They have no clue because racehorses are a means to an end. Their end.

Our Mustangs are also in terrible trouble, perhaps more than ever, and that’s saying something given their tragic history at the hands of man. My hope is that you will take an even stronger stand on their behalf and defend their right to roam, untouched and free.
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Image Credit: Grey Mustang Stallion by Randy Harris. More at randyharrisphoto.com.

 

Horse Race Insider’s Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages

We note a few quotes and write in response to a Horse Race Insider’s article, “Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages.”

Quote: “Aside from seeing an occasional news broadcast, the public has little to no interest in the game.”

We Say: Because horse racing has little to no interest in the public. This is an insider’s game. Plus — and this may ultimately be the defining factor particularly in the current climate — the public do not want to watch racehorses being killed.

Quote: “None of the people that have signed on to support the HIA [Horseracing Integrity Act] race their stock without drugs, even though they openly oppose it. They do not want to lose the edge from supposedly non performance-enhancing medications. That in itself negates the claim that drugs regularly administered to racehorses are benign.”

We Say: Yes. Correct.

Quote: “It is easy to look good backing a bill with no chance of becoming law.”

We Say: Spot on.

QUOTE: “TJC’s [The Jockey Club] support of DOA [dead on arrival] HIA bill, and not the Racehorse Doping Ban Act of 2019, aka Udall-Wyden, or the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act 2019, makes it seem as if the stewards of racing are moving forward to improve the reputation and integrity of the sport, but not supporting Udall-Wyden and SAFE clearly shows it is a publicity ploy.

“HIA not only lacks the necessary support, it faces the opposition of the National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Kentucky’s Senator Mitch McConnell, who acts on the wishes of Churchill Downs, and has no mechanism to fund itself.

“Supporting a bill that has no chance to become law is the perfect ploy to placate the public and the perceived enemy, animal rights groups.

“HIA not only places the same ineffectual industry leaders in a majority position on a board with government backing, it sets up the United States Anti-Doping Authority for a fall.

“Udall-Wyden and SAFE, which would both be beneficial to the sport are absent of TJC support. SAFE in particular because it outlaws horse slaughter in the US and prohibits the export of horses for slaughter in other countries.”

We Say: Exactly.

Here is where we part company with the Horse Race Insider article.

QUOTE: “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) causes death by blows to the head, yet the National Football League and the National Hockey league are not even remotely worried that society or politicians will banish Football or Ice Hockey.

“Thoroughbred horse racing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.

“In one year, the narrative has changed from how to grow the sport to how to save it. The issues of growth have not changed, nor has the chance horse racing will be banished.

“The time has come to take the reins and drive the sport into the future, not shrink from the actions of animal rights activists.”

We Say: The quote in the article that breaks the bank is this, “Thoroughbred horseracing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.” More than horse deaths? How do you think horse racing got into its current jam then?

As regards the horses, racehorses aren’t recruited. They don’t sign multi million contracts to train and compete. Neither do they volunteer their services. They are purposely bred, created, not for themselves — but to be hideously used and disposed of by a cruel industry whose concern for their welfare has become virtually non existent. 

Please folks whatever you do, do not try to respond with comments about how much owners and trainers “love” their horses. If so, then their love is the kiss of death. Added to that, they wouldn’t be in this business at all if they gave a flying you know what about the racehorse.

As a sidenote, we are not picking on Horse Race Insider here. We are simply using its article as an example of how a majority, if not all, of horse racing thinks.

As you can see, many in horse racing are still making piously bankrupt remarks about reform, and turning around and contradicting themselves just a few days later. It’s bedlam trying to follow it all. Horse Race Insider just happened to gift us with what we needed all in one place, that’s all.

What it appears in actuality is all that American horse racing truly wants is for the bad publicity, outside interference, proposed federal oversight, anti-doping legislation, suggestions of an independent Commissioner — and oh, yes, those annoying day-to-day racetrack death watches and protests — to go far, far away so they can go back to what they do undisturbed and unperturbed. Who can blame them — if you are of that ilk.

However, that means the continued drugging, abuse and killing of racehorses. Why would anyone who enjoys a flutter want to gamble on such a thing? How can the rest of us turn a blind eye?
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