Animals in Need

Jumps Racing

“There is a common misconception that the horse is a natural jumper. The reality is very different.”

Horse Structure and Movement, R Smythe and P Gray.

Horse racing may be presented as a good day out but behind the glamorous image, horses suffer. All types of racing are dangerous for horses with the potential to cause painful injuries or death, however jumps racing is especially bad for putting horses at risk. There is an urgent need to ban this entertainment to protect horses from harm.

The horse racing industry is no different to any other animal entertainment business in that it values animals only on the basis of their profitability.

Jumps racing is a ‘sport’ that is cruel and dangerous. People gamble on these horses’ lives, and the horses are discarded by trainers when they are no longer making money.

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Horses and Jumps

Despite trainers saying horses love to jump, many experts disagree. Horses also have poor forward vision making it a particular problem for jumping at great speed.

“There is a common misconception that the horse is a natural jumper, possessed of a flexible and supple body capable of maintaining balance at all gaits and speeds. The reality is very different. In fact, of all athletic animals, the horse has been provided with a very inflexible carcass of great bulk and weight … apart from the trunk providing anchorage for muscles responsible for limb movement, its weight is a serious handicap to rapid and flexible progression, like a motor car with a very heavy chassis”. Scientists have confirmed that horses did not evolve to become jumping animals.”

Horse Structure and Movement, R Smythe and P Gray.

Injury and Death

Every year horses die routinely on New Zealand tracks.

Jumps racing has a high rate of death and injury because horses are pushed to jump high fences at speed, surrounded by many other horses. Additionally, jumps races are usually much longer than flat races. Tired horses have a greater risk of falling and risking injury to themselves.  Jumps racing is impossible to make safe, as by its very nature, there is a constant risk to the horse.

The injuries that occur when horses fall or hurtle into the jumps or barriers can be horrific. Horses’ bodies are powerful but also delicate. Bones can shatter into tiny pieces meaning recovery is impossible. Even when horses could potentially recover often trainers are reluctant to spend money on treatment when the horse’s future earning potential is in question.

Horse injuries leading to euthanasia vary from burst arteries to fractured legs and spines. Thirty-seven horses have been euthanised on NZ tracks between 2012 and 2018 according to Stewards’ Reports. There could be many more who have died off track as a result of injuries sustained in races or in training.

View Jumps Racing ‘Death Watch’ for more.


When horses don’t prove to be profitable, their days are numbered. Many failed or older racehorses spend their last days being transported to a slaughter house where they are killed for pet food.


Our horses are dying in Australia too – two of the three horses that died in the opening weeks of the 2016 jumps season in Australia were from New Zealand horses: Cliff’s Dream and Fieldmaster. SAFE is liaising with Australian campaigners to work towards an end to jumps racing in both countries. Overseas jumps racing is already banned in New South Wales and has become increasingly unpopular, despite industry efforts to make it more attractive to a modern public.

The reality is horses are dying on tracks every year and the casualties will continue to mount unless action is taken.

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