Record numbers of race horses killed in Britain in 2021

Posted on the 7th February 2022

If the failings of the racing industry were to be represented in a single issue, it is that of the deaths of hundreds of horses each year. 2021 proved no exception with a record number of victims paying the price of the thirst for entertainment and gambling which was further exploited by big business industry players.

Racecourses took the lives of 220 horses in 2021 – for which there is no defence.

Despite this shocking statistic there is a public silence from racing’s rulers, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and its Horse Welfare Board. Its flagship welfare strategy document titled, ‘A life well-lived’ is, after just two years, in a chaotic free-fall.

The Welfare Board’s incoherent policy has, in racing terms, ‘fallen at every hurdle’. Whether that is race horses being sent for slaughter because of unregulated breeding, mirrored by a lack of post-racing aftercare; violent behaviour towards horses with the use of the whip; or deaths on racecourses.

But the BHA’s Horse Welfare Board is not alone in its failure. The ongoing killing of horses requires associated support structures. Horse welfare organisations and vets are tight lipped too, from either ignorance or apathy.

With uncontrolled power, racing’s big players, comprising, racecourses, multi-national betting operators, and massive breeding and racing operations, all seem content with the current situation of equine exploitation and maltreatment. Whilst polarised political views from Westminster weakens positive horse welfare change.

‘A lack of responsibility is evident from those who have power and a vested interest in maintaining ‘a business as usual’ approach to racing. They are all shamefully failing race horses on a huge scale. These are the reasons that, in 2021, a record number of 220 horses lost their lives.’

Dene Stansall - Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant

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