Deathwatch Report: 2022–2023 Was the Deadliest Season on Record for Horses

Posted on by Dan H

Between 1 August 2022 and 31 July 2023, 168 horses died on racetracks in Australia. The season had the highest number of deaths since the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses began maintaining records.

With no official data published by racing officials, the coalition began thoroughly researching and recording deaths on Australian racetracks 10 years ago and has been publishing the annual Deathwatch report ever since. The 2022–2023 season saw 168 horses die from injuries sustained on racetracks, and the most prevalent cause of death was catastrophic damage to the foreleg, such as a broken bone leading to euthanasia. Catastrophic injury to the hind leg was the second leading cause of death, with other fatalities being caused by cardiac events, massive bleeds, severe laceration, aneurysm, skull fractures, severe neurological injuries from head trauma, and shoulder, pelvis, or spinal injuries.

Horses who survive the races also typically face a gruesome fate. The racing industry talks about “retirement”, but few horses are retired to pastures. Most owners don’t want to pay for an animal who doesn’t bring in money, so many horses end up at abattoirs that supply the pet food industry or in countries such as France, Japan, and South Korea, where horse meat is sold for human consumption.

A PETA US investigation into South Korean horse knackeries exposed the tragic fate of horses who are used for racing then sold and exported. “Retired” horses who were once prize winners are shot, bled, and butchered for meat and oil.

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Parade Is Cancelled

Every time you support horse racing – whether you’re placing a bet or admiring the fashions on the field – you’re gambling with horses’ lives. As people realise that a “day at the races” is anything but fun for the “stars” of the show, there’s growing opposition to the cruel spectacle.

This year’s annual Melbourne Cup Parade has been cancelled, reportedly due to the growing concern among the public over the welfare of horses. Horses were traditionally paraded through the city streets ahead of the annual racing carnival at Flemington, but organisers have not applied for permits this year.

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses

‘Nup to the Cup’ 2023

The Melbourne Cup Carnival has been a public holiday for Victorians since 1865 , but in recent years, new traditions have formed for people who want to have a good time that day without supporting cruelty to animals.

Protesters outside of Flemington.

Find an Event Near You

NkT Photography

Rally Against Horseracing

As the spring racing season kicks off, show your support for compassionate activists at demonstrations outside major racecourses. Join PETA, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, Animal Justice Party, Animal Liberation, Animal Rights Activism Sydney, Animal Save groups , World Animal Protection, and others in speaking out for horses. We hope to see you there.