The horse racing industry in Australia is an extremely powerful and profitable business sector employing an estimated 132,000 people and making up 0.5 of our GDP. But is it ethical?

Each year the Australian horse racing industry produces approx 18,000 foals. However, only approx 30% will ever race. The majority are rendered worthless at a very young age. Well almost; they are after all “horse flesh” a term coined by the Racing Industry. And “horse flesh” is what these horses become. There is no sentiment for a racehorse that can’t run. Most are sold for a few hundred dollars; their final destiny, a European dinner plate or a can of dog food.

What about the racehorses that do race? In training, most racehorses spend up to 22 hours per day in a solitary stall. As a result of this confinement, most will develop neurotic behaviour.

As a result of not being able to continually graze which horses need to do to neutralise stomach acids, 90% will suffer from stomach ulcers. Nearly all horses will suffer from pulmonary bleeding (bleeding of the lungs) as a result of being forced to continually over exert themselves.

Contrary to what the industry will tell you, horses do not love to race. If they did, why are they whipped. Or do they love that too? Electric devices called “jiggers” are also sometimes used in training to force the horse to race on command.

The average racing career is less than 3 years. Why so short?

Owners want a return on their investment as soon as possible so most horses start racing as 2-year-olds despite the risk of injury. In human years, this is equates to a 15-year-old child. The musculo-skeletal structure of the thoroughbred horse does not fully develop until 4-5 years of age.

Eventually, virtually all horses succumb to injury and/or one or more of the many chronic conditions caused by their training regime and racing. When this occurs, ending their racing career, the high cost of keeping a horse means it makes commercial sense to “get rid of it”.

Only a few will go into breeding and even then, they are only replacing existing mares and stallions which have declined in number by 20% in the last 5 years.

To exploit animals for human entertainment and keep them in conditions which can only be compared to a gaol, is abhorrent and a blight on our society which not only condones it, but supports it.