Mamamia understands that Australians have diverse views when it comes to events like the Melbourne Cup. You can read more about the facts around horse racing in 2019 here, a defense of the industry here, and the perspective of some animal rights activists here.
I was practically born in the saddle, horses have always been a part of my life. But it has been many years since I celebrated a Melbourne Cup day.
Growing up on a farm surrounded by animals, owning and riding many horses, the Melbourne Cup was pretty popular. I enjoyed trying to predict who would win as most people did. I loved seeing the beautiful shiny horses and all the glitz and glamour.
Being a farm kid I was well aware of what happened to livestock and it was common knowledge that many retired racehorses ended up at abattoirs, but I didn’t really think much about it then. I just put it out of mind I guess, as most people do.
As I grew up I was determined to have a career in the horse industry. I became a barn manager for a riding school in Sydney. Over the years I worked at racing stables, pre trainer facilities and I worked for vets that handled mostly racehorses. I was even married to a jockey. But despite these strong connections to the racing and equine industry, in general, I could not continue to turn a blind eye to what was going on.
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What I began to see was that when horses are a business asset, they stop being pets and become just a number, they have to fulfil their purpose or they are sold on. Every horse person is aware that after they sell a horse it can end up at the abattoirs, but this knowledge does not stop the majority of people selling their horses and relinquishing the control of their horses’ welfare.
Recently I put down my beloved horse of 18 years, and there is no way I would have sent him to slaughter. His last memory was eating a bag of carrots as I cried into his mane. His death was swift and painless, thanks to a good vet, he died with dignity and is buried on my dad’s farm.
Honestly, I don’t know how anyone who proclaims to ‘love’ horses that could ever subject them to being sent to the slaughterhouse. Their last days spent in fear and in many cases treated horrifically.
The racing industry doesn’t deny that retired racehorses end up at the abattoirs, but they rather prefer to insist that it is only a small number of horses that are slaughtered for meat.
The reality is that over 10,000 retired racehorses are sent to slaughter every year, according to Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR).
That number may not seem significant to the racing industry but many people like myself, we find it completely unacceptable. Basically, racehorses are just livestock, a way to make people money, just like any other animal-based industry.
The racing industry claims to be different, they claim to love these horses, but if they loved them they would care where they ended up, they would care how they died. They would care enough to put the horses’ welfare above profits.
But it’s not just horses going to slaughter that is the issue, it’s so much more complex than that…
It’s the fact that these horses are being made to race before their bodies have matured; they are literally racing babies to their death.
Of the 122 horses killed on the track from August 2018 to July 2019, 54 of them were two-year-olds, according to the CPR.