Race horse welfare takes a backwards step during 2020

Posted on the 18th January 2021

2020 was a tough year for race horses, and there is no sign of any changes to the situation this year.

A number of issues are affecting their welfare. The impact of Covid-19 has led owners to reduce the number of their horses in training or to leave racing completely with the fate of the horses unknown.

Additionally, horse deaths on racecourses remain high (130 in 2020, despite a reduction in the number of races held – see Infographic) and the flagrant abuse of horses with the whip (299 offences in 2020) are serious welfare issues that are far from being resolved. The industry’s self-appointed Horse Welfare Board has remained particularly quiet at a time when its efforts are urgently needed.

Says Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

‘The scale of welfare problems in racing is unprecedented. There is little action being taken by the industry’s regulator, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), or its Horse Welfare Board. A review into the use of the whip was promised, as was a reduction in deaths on racecourses (which was pledged to parliament), as well as a commitment to traceability of Thoroughbred horses from their birth to death – all of which have fallen flat. The industry cannot be trusted with the welfare of its horses. Independent welfare regulation is urgently needed.’

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