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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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.
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.
Many horses have been killed at New Zealand racetracks in recent years. Jump racing is particularly dangerous for horses. The following is an incomplete list of horses killed at NZ jump races. It does not include horses euthanased on subsequent days following injuries sustained during racing.
8-year-old bay gelding was euthanised after he fell during a jump and fractured his shoulder.
Taumarunui Racing Club
(Arawa Park Hurdle 3000 metres)
9-year-old chestnut gelding was euthanised after suffering an injury to his right foreleg.
Otago Racing Club (Wairepo Hereford Stud Steeple 4000m)
8-year-old chestnut gelding fell on a landing at the first fence. He collapsed and died from suspected heart failure on his way back to the unsaddling area.
Te Aroha Racecourse (Piako Mitsubishi Maiden Hurdle)
6-year-old male grey gelding misjudged the final fence and fractured his left foreleg. He was euthanised after going on to finish and win the race.
Taumarunui Racing Club (Weona Family Trust hurdle)
9-year-old male bay gelding misjudged the fence near the 1000 metres and fell. He was euthanised after it was found that he had fractured his right leg.
Racing Te Aroha (3100m open hurdle)
9-year-old brown mare. She was killed after falling at a fence and fracturing a bone in her left hind leg.
Jolt Coffee House Open Steeplechase (4100m)
9-year-old chestnut gelding. He was killed after breaking his left front leg.
Irvines Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m)
12-year-old brown gelding. He was brought down, fractured his right elbow and was killed.
Total Storage Maiden Steeplechase (3500m)
8-year-old brown gelding. He fell at the last fence and broke his right hind leg. He was attended to by a vet and killed.
Equine Veterinary Services Ltd Steeplechase (4280m)
|WHEELER FORTUNE (exported from NZ)|
5-year-old brown gelding, who fell at the final hurdle and suffered a broken foreleg. He was killed by a vet.
6-year-old brown gelding. He was euthanised after he fractured a hind leg.
Kaiser NZ Open Steeplechase
8-year-old brown mare. She fell at the second last fence and died from a fatal cardio-vascular ‘event’.
Infusion Catering Maiden Hurdle
7-year-old brown mare. After having trouble jumping the double fence on the second unit near 1300 meters, she was pulled up. She was found to have fractured her off hind stifle (equivalent to human knee), and was euthanised.
Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge
142nd Grand National Steeplechase
4-year-old brown gelding. Fractured his front leg, after falling at a fence and was killed.
Cheltenham 2017 with Wheels Hurdle
|TU META PETA|
5-year-old chestnut gelding was euthanised after falling and fracturing his right shoulder.
The Rising Foundations Hurdles
6-year-old black gelding. He fell at the final jump and lay on the track for some time before being killed, after he was found to have fractured his left fore leg.
Faceup – Low Fees in Real Estate Steeplechase
7-year-old chestnut gelding. He was euthanised after falling and fracturing right shoulder.
K S Browne Hurdle
7-year-old gelding, who broke his pelvis after falling at a fence. He was later euthanised.
Landmark Vets Ltd
8-year-old grey mare. She fell. After being attended to by the veterinarian, she was euthanised.
Sweeny Townsend Insurance Brokers Rotorua and Bay of Plenty Hunt Cup
(3500m Open Hurdles)
10-year-old brown gelding. He landed awkwardly and after a post race inspection revealed a hindleg fracture, he was killed.
(3000m Open Hurdles)
10-year-old gelding, euthanised after a fall.
|2 August, |
Riccarton Park NZI
(4250m Steeplechase) Canterbury
10-year-old gelding who was found to have fractured his left elbow and was euthanised.
Porrit Sand (Steeplechase)
7-year-old gelding fell heavily at the third to last fence and euthanised after suffering a fractured left shoulder.
|THE MISSING LINK |
Landed awkwardly after jumping the fence near the 700 metres. Was found to have fractured the right shoulder and euthanised.
Karaka Demons (Hurdles)
Faltered on landing when jumping the fence approaching the 1000 metres. His near hind leg was fractured and he was euthanised.
Phil’s Motorcycles (Hurdle)
|ST PICASSO |
He fell at the fourth fence. Was euthanised after bursting an artery.
Phil’s Motorcycles (Hurdles)
After hitting the fence near the 1400 metres the gelding fractured the off-front elbow and he was afterwards euthanised.
Martin Bosley Restaurant
|POST ONLINE |
5-year-old gelding, fell after jumping the second to last fence and suffered a suspected spinal injury. He was euthanised.
Business Houses (Hurdles)
Failed to rise at the fence near the 1400m. He sustained a severe injury to his near-side shoulder, so was killed.
|15 June |
LJ Hooker Steeplechase
|MIKIYAMA (exported from NZ)|
Jumped awkwardly and fell. Vet exam revealed muscle tear and the horse was euthanised the following day.
Blame Me, a 10-year-old gelding, fell badly and suffered injuries to the right fore shoulder. He was killed.
Grant Plumbing (Hurdles)
| SON OF ZOFF|
He fell at the fence near the 900 metres. Euthanised due to having fractured right shoulder.
The Masters (Hurdles)
|SILENCE PLEASE |
Stumbled on landing after jumping the last fence. Was found to have fractured both sesamoids and was euthanised.
Team Wealleans (Hurdles)
Jumped several fences awkwardly. Killed after she was found to have fractured a shoulder.
|3 September |
Super Liquor (Hurdles)
Broke down in the home straight on the first occasion sustaining an injury to the off hind leg and was subsequently euthanised.
Garden Edge (Hurdles)
Sustained a fractured distal radius of the left foreleg on the second to last hurdle, and was euthanised.
Lion Beverage (Hurdles)
Was pulled up by rider and afterwards euthanised, having suffered a fracture to the right foreleg.
Barry Burge (Steeplechase)
Broke a leg in final training and was euthanised.
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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