Behind the Glamour lies a ruthless industry motivated by profit

In early June this year, at Melbourne’s Flemington Races, two horses were killed on the track. The first horse, Club Red, fell on the second last hurdle. He fractured his shoulder and was euthanased on the spot. Two races later, a horse named Tin Can, was pulled up in the main straight after sustaining a hind leg injury. He was also euthanased on the track after having suffered a fatal injury. This is not an anomaly. It is what many in the industry describe as just "a part of racing". And what is also a part of racing is the routine death sentence given to racehorses that simply become financially unviable; that is they don’t run fast enough to win prize money for their owners. Just like the death of these two horses was hidden from public view behind hastily erected canvas screens, so are the grim details of an industry ruthlessly driven by greed and profit.

Behind the veil of secrecy

Wastage is the term used to define the horses that leave the racing industry. For most of them, leaving the industry means entering the knackery, sooner or later. Many of these horses will not have run a single race. It is a well accepted fact in the industry that out of 1000 registered foals born each year, only 300 will ever run a single race. Only around 2% of the horses that do race will win enough money to cover their costs. The racing industry keeps and publishes statistics of every conceivable description yet keeps no records of horses after they finish racing. The reason is painfully obvious. It is estimated in Australia each year, anywhere between 15-20,000 horses bred for racing are killed for pet food sold by their owners, often for just a few hundred dollars.

Sadly, the view that racehorses are retired to live out the rest of their lives in a tranquil country pasture is a myth. The reality for nearly all ex-racehorses is that they will end up at the knackery where they will be slaughtered well before the end of their normal lifespan. The average lifespan for a horse is 25 years of age yet the average age of a thoroughbred is just over 5 years. For those few whose lives are spared, many face an even worse fate, being passed from owner to owner, often ending up in paddocks, neglected and left to starve.

Jumps Racing

Jumps racing is Russian Roulette for horses. They are raced in long, exhausting contests of 3000 metres or more, and have obstacles (jumps) placed in their way to create excitement for race patrons. Some horses fall at high speed, and sustain terrible injuries often causing the horse to lose their life. The jumps industry provides the worst injuries (broken necks, broken legs, etc) seen on the racetrack. Jumps Racing has been banned in NSW. A parliamentary enquiry in 1991 recommended it should be phased out all together. Yet jumps racing continues, and horses continue to die on and off the racetrack.


Mares and stallions may be spared whilst they are used for breeding. For the mares like Makaybe Diva, she will be served, some would say raped by a stallion until she falls pregnant, once every year. For the elite stallions, they are made to mate 3 times per day as owners can ask as much as $1,000,000 for each foal they sire.

Some more facts

  • Most horses in training are confined to a stall for as long as 22 hours per day.

  • 90% of horses suffer from ulcers as a result of stress and an unnatural feeding regime. Horses control their stomach acids by continuously grazing, which they are unable to do confined to a stall.
  • 90% suffer from bleeding in the lungs due to over exertion when racing.

ALV will be launching a campaign to expose the cruelty behind horse racing.
If you would like to be involved, please email, or contact the office - (03) 9639 3993