Only weeks into 2014, 17 horses have died on Australian racetracks.
The latest victims, Bit of a Bash and Little Pablo, both of whom died in Victoria, and 6-year-old gelding Jhelum, who was euthanised after colliding with another horse in Queensland, all died the same day.
Unwilling to “waste” time waiting until horses’ bodies are fully mature and stand a somewhat better chance of avoiding shattered bones and snapped tendons, most horses – including Bit of a Bash and Jhelum – are thrust into the training/racing circuit when they are just 2 years old.
Horses routinely sustain catastrophic injuries while racing and either drop dead on the track or are euthanised after their broken bodies have been dragged out of sight. Such incidents are not rare. They are business as usual. Horses are whipped and forced to run on tracks that are often made of hard-packed dirt at speeds of more than 50 kilometres per hour. Injuries are often masked with drugs, and horses who should be resting and recuperating are forced to go right back on the track.
Horses who manage to survive are retired to grassy pastures. The vast majority of owners are unwilling to bear the costs of horses who aren’t making them money. Dismissed as “wastage”, unwanted horses often end up at abattoirs to be turned into pet food or are shipped to countries such as Japan and France, which sell horse meat for human consumption.
People who care about horses must steer clear of the track if they don’t want to contribute to the continuing death toll.
Posted by Claire Fryer