RACE HORSE ABUSE
Horse abuse is rife in the race horse industry. Many
thousands of horses are produced annually in order to generate a few
fast ones to compete in horse racing. Very few of these make the grade.
What happens to the rest? Many meet horrifying fates such as those mentioned on this page.
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The same thing happens to ex-race horses that have been retired from
competing because they no longer make money. They are retired young,
before even fully maturing.
This is the second of two pages about race horse abuse. To see the first page, click here.
If you choose, you can click on the titles below to go straight to that section of the page.
- Race Horse Abandonment & Abuse
- Just A Few Of Many Race Horse Abuse Cases
- Horse Racing Is Bad For Horses Health
- Race Horse Industry Animal Experimentation
- How To Spot Signs Of Neglect & Abuse To Horses
- How To Report Abuse & Neglect
To go to the sections in the list below, please click here.
- Horse Racing Facts
- Grand National Facts
- The Grand National Horse Race
- Reactions To Grand National Deaths
The horse racing industry promotes an untrue image of what happens to
retired race horses. They like people to think that horses live a happy
retirement as pets, stud horses or well looked after at riding schools.
reality, most retired racing horses, and racehorses that do not make
the grade, are put through the agony and terror of being slaughtered for
the foreign horse meat industry or for pet food, and never seen or
heard of again. During the slaughter process, these sensitive animals often thrash around trying to avoid
the bolt gun and blades, resulting in them regularly going through
horrific agony process alive and conscious.
Tens of thousands of ex race horses in the US alone are sent to slaughter houses every year.
retired, injured or ungraded race horses are often inhumanely killed in
other ways, abused, abandoned, or neglected until they die.
happens all over the world. In a study conducted found that in any
country that there is a thoroughbred horse industry, race horse abuse
Race horses which once blazed race courses earning
fortunes for their owners are discarded or disposed of when no longer of
use. Many are locked away where nobody knows about them, neglected,
forgotten by the world and slowly starving to death. Injured horses are
killed and their bodies dumped.
The lucky ones are rescued by animal sanctuaries who have room for them, but most are not that lucky.
Below: An example of race horse abuse. The ex-race horse, The Spear
Of Destiny, was starved to death by the owner. The owner then neglected
and starved three more former race horses. Wellington SPCA trie to save
them, but it was too late for one of them who suffered multiple organ
failure. The other two were suffering from severe malnutrition, but were
nursed back to health by Wellington SPCA.
a name=”Just A Few Of Many Race Horse Abuse Cases”>Just A Few Of Many Race Horse Abuse Cases
Money is the main incentive for thoroughbred race horse breeders and
owners. This means that horses who do not fit the bill of being a likely
champion, or that do not live up to expectations, are often be
subjected to unimaginable abuse, neglect or death, as their upkeep
drains profits. The upkeep of a racehorse that can not make money just
seems pointless to breeders and owners driven by money.
The following cases are just a small glimpse in to the thousands of horse abuse cases that happen each year:
Freedom’s Flight was rescued, he was to be killed as part of the
illegal horse meat trade. He was tied to a palm tree starving and his
hoofs were rotting.
Prominent thoroughbred race horse breeder
Ernie Paragallo was convicted of 33 misdemeanor counts of animal
cruelty, as 177 horses had to be rescued from his farm and many of them
were infected by parasites and were starving. Paragallo, who showed no
remorse, earned more than $20 million in twenty years of horse racing.
England, the 1984 UK Grand National WINNER “Hallo Dandy” was was found
in a field, starving, with scars on his back, and his ribs poking
Thoroughbred race horse, Accordian, was found lying in a
field in Florida, near to death and too weak to stand. South Florida
SPCA attempted to save the horse, but sadly the horse had suffered too
much inhumane treatment.
Cases of race horse abuse reported include:
- Maggot infestation
- Batteries implanted under the skin which give the horse electric shocks when it is faltering or slowing
harmful drugs such as cocaine and anabolic steroids to the horse to act
as a stimulant and cover pain cused by racing and training
- Slaughtering of horses to provide horse meat to countries for human consumption
- Dragging of horses along he ground behind speeding vehicles by ropes tied around their legs
The unnatural stresses caused by making horses compete so aggressively
and at such young ages causes, or makes worse, serious health problems.
These include stomach ulcers, heart murmurs, and bleeding in the lungs.
These are not found in horses worked at reasonable levels. These health
and injury problems result in the need for drugs to maintain the horse’s
racing value. It does not, however, help the horses health. Only
stopping what causes the problems in the first place could do that.
study reported in the Equine Veterinary Journal noted a doubling of one
type of heart murmur and a tripling of another in 2-year-old horses
after 9 months of training. Horses’ heartbeats can increase tenfold
during a race, from a relaxed 25 beats per minute to an excessive 250
beats, leading to exhaustion, collapse, and sometimes, to a fatal heart
Researchers found gastric ulcers in 93% of horses in race
training. In horses that had actually raced, the incidence was a
A study in the Equine Veterinary Journal found
hemorrhaging in the lungs in 95% of horses checked during two post-race
examinations. There is no effective treatment. Another study in the
Equine Veterinary Journal found that as long as a horse continues to
undergo training and racing, the lungs do not have a chance to heal.
are continually pumped full of drugs to either mask the harm and pain
that horse racing and the training causes their bodies, or to illegally
enhance their performance without detection.
Retired horses face
horrific fates after enduring months of this. Young race horses meet the
same ends simply because they do not possess all the characteristics of
a champion horse.
Rather than face that it is the stresses horse racing and training puts
on these horses that causes their health problems, the horse racing
industry instead carries out animal experiments on horses, claiming it
is to find out what causes the illness and injury!
purposely infect horses with devastating viruses, subject pregnant
animals to abdominal surgery so they subsequently abort their young,
deliberately starve them, and subject newborn foals to stress
experiments. Most of these invasive experiments end with the horses
being killed after terrible suffering.
You can see what kind of trauma animals are put through in experiments here.
Look out for these signs of horse abuse / neglect:
- Open sores
- Mouth wounds. Ill fitting bits can cause wounds to the inside and outside of the horse’s mouth.
- Scars and welts. Excessive whipping can produce welts and broken skin.
- Burn marks. These could have been caused by the use of electric prods.
- Changes in the horse’s physical appearance or demeanor.
spine or hipbones are visible. Excessive weight loss can also be
detected by the appearance of the head as being too large for the body.
- A low hanging head or dull eyes.
- Dull shaggy hair, or hair loss.
- Lack of interaction with other horses or total disinterest in its surroundings.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
actions or cribbing, also known as windsucking. Cribbing / wind-sucking
is where a horse bites into an object like a fence rail, arches his
neck, and gulps air.
Find more information here
Below is a video showing horse abuse, including Rodeo cruelty:
If you suspect horse abuse or neglect, inform the police. Make an
official report, but try not to over-exaggerate the problem or be too
emotional about it. Be matter of fact about it. It is helpful if you can
get photos or a video showing the condition of the horse /its
surroundings and show those to the police when you make your report.
a few days, enquire with law enforcement about whether they have acted
on your report. If they have not, keep contacting them at regular
intervals, stressing the urgency of the situation. It is important to be
persistent and firm, but polite and non-offensive.
contact an animal rescue charities, preferably one that has the power
to prosecute, such as the RSPCA in the UK and equivalent in other
countries. Other organisations that can help horses could be contacted
For rescue organisations, click here.
aware that because of economic conditions, such organisations have
experienced a massive fall in donations which has lead to huge cut
backs. The same economic conditions are causing more animals than ever
to be abandoned, neglected and need he help of these over-loaded
organisations. This may affect the amount of help the organisations can
offer, and how quickly they can supply it. If the situation is critical,
you must keep pressing for help.
If the abuse involves a horse that is used in horse racing, make sure you alert racing officials at the race courses immediately.
A visitor to this website sent in the video below of television horse racing coverage, where a staff member can clearly be seen beating a horse with a whip in full view of TV cameras. He was apparently unaware he was doing anything wrong. The disgusted viewer called the race track to complain and the man was fired from his job. Taking action gets results!