A year on: race horse deaths continue as commitment is broken
Posted on the 15th October 2019
In 2018, Animal Aid’s government e-petition signed by over 105,000 people, demanded the removal of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) from its role as race horse welfare regulator. This was due to the shocking record of horse deaths and whip abuse on British racecourses. The petitioners wanted to see the BHA replaced with a new independent body.
To this aim, the 15th October 2018 looked to be a landmark day for race horses, as the petitioners’ demands were discussed in Westminster. Cross-party political support was given for improving welfare and promises were made to see that action would be taken. At the end of the debate, the then Minister for Animal Welfare (David Rutley) promised: ‘I will also continue to monitor the reports of future fatalities and review associated action plans, to ensure that further progress is made in the months and years ahead.’
Following on from the debate, the BHA appeared to recognise that radical change from the racing industry was necessary. [i]
But, sadly, a year on to the day, little has been done. The abuse and toll on race horses continues, as ever before – the figures between 16 October 2018 and 15 October 2019, highlight failure and broken commitment:
198 race horses have been killed as a result of racing on British racecourses – this staggering figure is in line with past seasons
455 brutal whip offences against horses have been committed by jockeys with no strengthening of the rules to prevent this – the whip remains an object to beat horses with
Due to a lack of transparency, an unidentified number of horses, known as ‘wastage’ by the industry, have been disposed of by knackermen or through the slaughterhouse
A glimmer of hope was the BHA’s establishment of a new Horse Welfare Board; but, on closer analysis, the majority of its board members are interest groups from within racing. As a whole, the Board has yet to prove its worth.
Says, Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:
‘The euphoria of hope that we had a year ago for race horses needs a revitalised commitment from politicians and the racing industry. Animal Aid will continue a vigorous campaign to this aim, whilst actively seeking an end to an industry that uses animals for entertainment and gambling with no regard for their welfare.’
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