Horse deaths

Every year when the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival rolls around the calls for jumps racing to be banned seem to get a little louder.
If there is a death on the track, it makes headlines around Australia and the debate rages over whether or not to ban the sport.
As anyone who witnessed the death of Virvacity in the Von Doussa Steeplechase on Saturday would attest, there is nothing nice about seeing an animal in agony that has critically injured itself for our pleasure.
Nobody likes killing horses, especially those involved in the racing industry.
People in the racing game genuinely love their horses.
But the fact is that horse racing is an industry. It is a money-making game that provides many in this State with their day-to-day living.
Yes it is ugly to see a horse floundering on the track with a broken neck or shoulder.
But the reality is thousands of racehorses are destroyed each year behind closed doors once their racing or breeding days are over.
That is the side that few people see.
The Oakbank Racing Club has recognised the groundswell of opposition to jumps racing and has taken a proactive step towards lessening the risk for the horses by removing the old wooden fences and replacing them with hedges.
It should be commended for that, even though its efforts do not seem to have helped reduce fatalities this year.
Horse racing is a dangerous sport and there will always be fatalities but the fact that there are almost 20 times more fatalities in jumps racing than flat racing is the point that upsets many in the community.
Humans and horses have been closely linked throughout history and our species have a special bond.
They are a highly respected animal and therefore anything that is seen to cause them suffering becomes an emotive issue.
It was evident from observing the new hedges in use at the trials last week, and again during the carnival, that the horses were approaching them far too quickly.
Many were not jumping them as they should a normal steeplechase fence and were simply crashing through. It was an exhibition of poor quality steeplechasing.
Such high speed jumping is a recipe for disaster and if Oakbank is to maintain its hurdle and steeplechase events, the club must ensure competing horses respect the obstacles and jump them with care.
It is odd that the horses did respect the old fences. The problem was that any mistake was fraught with danger.
The move to hedges may prove successful as they grow and thicken.
Let’s hope so. It would be a terrible shame for SA to lose a racing institution like the Oakbank Easter Carnival.

4 Comments on "Horse deaths"

  1. Lets have a look at the form for Art Success before he died at Oakbank.
    Wed 28 March 2012 at Sandown. – Failed to finish.
    This is the stewards report from that race – S Pateman, rider of Art Success (NZ), explained that the gelding had been jumping poorly and hung out at jumps three and four and whilst jumping poorly lost ground at every obstacle, and for this reason he eased the gelding out of the race after jumping the fifth obstacle near the 1500m. A subsequent veterinary examination of Art Success (NZ) revealed no abnormalities and C Maher trainer of the gelding will be contacted in the following days as to the racing future of Art Success (NZ).
    All horse that raced in this event will undergo a review by the Jumps Review Panel.
    He was then bought to SA to trial at Oakbank (therefore avoiding the trialling process in Victoria)
    Wed 04 April 12 Oakbank – Trialled finished 3 out of 7
    Sat 07 Apr 12 Oakbank – 12th out of 13 (only beat home Virvacity who fell and died)
    This is the stewards report from that race – Mr. C. Maher, the Trainer of ART SUCCESS (NZ), was advised that should the gelding perform in a similar manner in future, action would be taken against it.
    So – they then allowed him to run Monday
    Mon 09 Apr 12 Oakbank – Art Success (NZ) was retired from the event. Art Success (NZ) was examined by the Club’s Veterinary Surgeon who reported the gelding had suffered a fractured pelvis and was humanely euthanased.
    So despite winning $749,063 for his connections he still had not earnt his retirement.
    In South Australia last year – 1 in EVERY 22 horses that competed in a jumps race is DEAD, killed on the track. This is NOT accaptable

  2. Imagine your only two options in life are to either compete in a sport here it is highly likely you will be killed, or you are sent to slaughter because you are no longer profitable. That’s right, your only two options involve death at the hands of those you have a ‘special bond’ with. This is the case for jumps horses. If you are going to argue that jumps saves hem from slaughter then maybe you are just highlighting a much greater problem in the racing industry. The fact that the sport’s main athletes are dispensed with and owners need not take any responsibility for their animals once their racing days are over. How is any of this ethical. Surely, in this day and age we should have better standards than just offering these noble animals such devastating options.

  3. It seems to me that the article makes an excellent case for banning this cruel aspect of Oakbank altogether. After all Blind Freddy can plainly see that there is no way to make it safe, and jumps racing is such a minor part of Oakbank, for most people – in fact, there are many who would love to attend if there were NOT the horrible (and very real) prospect of seeing horses falling, writhing in pain, and being put down (albeit behind the dreaded green screens)

  4. The hideous jumps industry is often where high class flat racehorses end up,and they are often carrying pre-existing musculo-skeletal problems stemming from feet that have been badly damaged by constant shoeing.
    Then they are expected to compete in an event that creates higher ground reaction forces to the feet and limbs by jumping and racing over long distances.
    But this is just one aspect of the cruel and outdated patriarchal model of horse-racing that needs to be blown up and started again from scratch, if it is to survive.
    The true slaughter statistics of the industry must be exposed. The Keeper of the Studbook has just released the figure that 45% of foals bred never race. The wastage of two year olds has been suggested by racing authorities as being worse than jumps horses.
    Scientists investigating shin soreness and other common injuries have recommended that 2 year olds do not enter training until they are 30 months old and yet many racehorses are broken in as yearlings and are racing as very young 2 year olds. On any given day, one in five racehorses are suffering from musculo-skeletal injury and yet the industry refuses to ban the whip which has the potential to over-exert, overextend and overstress the horse.
    This is an industry that recently claimed that the horse is the hero of their industry and yet they continue to refuse to put the welfare of the animal that is their mainstay, first.
    State Governments let their racing industries get away with the cruelty, because they are dependent on them for revenue. These community representatives are condoning the cruelty and must be made accountable for their inaction and weak leadership which continues to support jumps racing.

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