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 )


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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.

Read on »

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.

Read on »

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Horses abused with electric prods at 2019 Rowell Ranch Rodeo

Rowell Ranch Rodeo bronco busting event. The Rodeo has been consistently breaking the law concerning the use of the electric prod.

HAYWARD, Calif. (Dec 12, 2019) — The Mercury News reported:

Video footage apparently showing cowboys breaking the law by using electric prods twice on horses during last May’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo has prompted Hayward area park district officials to fine the company behind the event.

Paul McCreary, the district’s general manager, said in a Dec. 9 letter to the Flying U Rodeo Company that two public complaints were received, saying livestock handlers used an electric prod on two different horses during the annual rodeo.

The complaints included video footage posted on YouTube. McCreary included links to the videos in the letter.

“The video confirms the electric prod was used at least twice during the rodeo,” McCreary said. “In both instances, the horses were in the chute and the gate was open when the electric prod was used. The prod was used on the horses in the shoulder area. However, there is no evidence supporting the requirement that the participants or spectators needed protection from either horse.”

The district issued an infraction for two violations with a fine of $500 for the first one and $1,500 for the second.

A representative of the Flying U Rodeo Company was not available for comment. The company, based in Marysville, has until Dec. 31 to appeal.

Under state law, an electric prod or similar device cannot be used in the holding chute, unless it’s necessary to protect participants or rodeo spectators. Fines can be as high as $5,000 for a second or subsequent violation.

“The current fine of only $2,000 for continued violations seems awfully lenient to me,” Eric Mills, coordinator for Oakland’s Action for Animals, said in an email. “Dollars to doughnuts the violations have occurred every year, but (they) were not filmed.”

In Defense of Animals concur with the above report. Here is their description of what occurred:

A horse stood helplessly immobilized in a cage with a man on the horse’s back while cowboys punched their equine victim in the head and mouth at the May, 2019 Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Alameda County, California. They had already pummeled several other horses that day, but when this particular horse didn’t fight back against the vicious beating which failed to produce the desired effect of unnatural bucking, the cowboys moved on to their most reliable form of torture: pumping thousands of volts of electricity into the horse’s neck.

A video filmed by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) shows men on the attack: yanking on one of the ears and landing kicks in the belly with long spurs while the terrified horse stood frozen to the spot. After being repeatedly slapped in the face, the poor horse lunges forward in pain after a brutal burst of electricity is applied to the neck.

In California, shocking horses at rodeos in not just appallingly cruel, it’s also been made explicitly illegal. California Penal Code Sec. 596.7(e):

“The rodeo management shall ensure that no electric prod or similar device is used on any animal once the animal is in the holding chute, unless necessary to protect the participants and spectators of the rodeo.”

Additionally, electric prod manufacturers have spoken out against the practice, stating that “Any use [of the electric prod] for entertainment purposes is not something we support or condone.”

Rowell Ranch Rodeo had a chance to agree to comply with the law concerning electric prods last year. Instead they chose to ignore it.

The East Bay Times reporting on the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District board meeting held March 1, 2018, in Hayward, California, which was attended by animal rights activists and rodeo participants, wrote:

Despite animal rights activists’ latest efforts to rid wild cow milking and mutton busting from Hayward’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo, the events can continue.

The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District board voted 4-1 on March 1 to include the events, as well as the use of electric prods on horses at the rodeo, in its Animal Welfare Policy for rodeos. Mutton busting — which consists of children riding sheep — was not previously addressed in the policy.

“. . . as well as the use of electric prods on horses at the rodeo, . . .”  What? The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District board have absolutely no right or legal standing to ignore or override existing law.


Please call and email the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and request that law enforcement handle this incident with the seriousness it deserves by investigating and prosecuting individuals shocking horses in violation of California Penal Code Sec. 596.7(e).

Make the call at (510) 667-3620 or email using the contact form for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

You can simply say:

“Please investigate and prosecute those responsible for shocking a horse in the chute during the Rowell Ranch Rodeo on May 19, 2019. California Penal Code Section 596.7(e), specifically lists shocking horses in the chute as a violation. Rowell Ranch Rodeo management must be held accountable under this statute. Additionally, the individual who shocked the horses should be prosecuted for animal cruelty under California Penal Code Section 597.”

Thank you everyone.

That’s what freedom looks like

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


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.

Image Credit: Grey Mustang Stallion by Randy Harris. More at randyharrisphoto.com.


The true celebration will be when we end horse soring

The 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. HSUS.

Take action to eliminate horse soring and “big lick” animal cruelty. Elizabeth Fite, reporting for the Times Free Press writes:

The biggest competition for the Tennessee walking horse breed begins Wednesday in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

For some, the 11-day Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration — often called the Celebration — embodies the best of the breed and its traditions. For others, it’s tainted by the cruel practice of horse soring — when humans intentionally injure horses’ hooves or legs to make them step higher, creating an artificial gait known as the “big lick.”

Soring became illegal in 1970 and is not allowed at the Celebration. However, the current law doesn’t prohibit stacked shoes, chains or other “action devices,” and those will be used on horses at the Celebration in classes where the high-stepping “big lick” is still coveted.

Horse soring "stacks" on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.
Horse soring “stacks” on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.

Yes, horse soring and the “big lick” is still coveted by a minority of cruel people who continue to perpetuate horrific cruelties against the beautiful and gentle Tennessee Walking Horse. Together, let’s bring it to a final end.


There is a bill pending before Congress that will wipe out horse soring once and for all.

The House version of the bill recently passed by an overwhelming 333-96. The Senate version of the Bill — S.1007 — is pending right now awaiting further action.

Tennessee Walking horse watches worriedly during horse soring inspections, part of an undercover operation by HSUS. Photo: HSUS.
Tennessee Walking horse watches worriedly during horse soring inspections, part of an undercover operation by HSUS. Photo: HSUS.


Contact your two U.S. Senators in Washington D.C. and urge them to cosponsor and make an unwavering commitment to the passage of S.1007, the bill against the cruel practice of horse soring for Tennessee Walking Horse competitions.

Go to Senate.gov to contact your U.S. Senators online. Prefer to telephone? The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.  Go here for further information »

The Times Free Press article includes:

Clant Seay and the advocacy group Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty have peacefully protested outside the Celebration for the last four years.

Seay founded the group and regularly documents examples of “big lick” horse abuse on his blog, billygoboy.com, and Facebook page, which has more than 11,000 followers. One of his latest videos is of 2-year-old walking horses wearing weighted shoes and chains and displaying the “big lick” at a show on Aug. 3.

“Calling attention to illegal and abusive activity is every citizen’s responsibility. Animal cruelty is not a tradition just because it has been going on for more than 50 years,” Seay wrote in an email. “To say that this is a ‘tradition’ is just a propaganda technique. Nor is this an ‘industry’ any more than cockfighting or dog fighting is an industry.”



See The Horse Fund’s Stakeholders page at POPVOX.com for talking points regarding this legislation »

You can also create an account with an email and password at POPVOX.com to find and communicate directly with your lawmakers, follow bills that interest you and more. Highly recommended!POPVOX LOGL

The 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. By HSUS.