Life after racing

“Wastage” is a racing term that refers to horses prematurely withdrawn from racing. What happens to them?

photo: ABC 7.30

The fate of racehorses after racing is one of the industry’s dirtiest and best kept secrets. Their lives are cut short by greed as their owners seek to make a profit at all costs.

For the 70% of failed racehorses who do not even run a single race, their lives are immediately expendable. Keeping them is not an option and they’re discarded like defective goods.

These out-of-date or “defective” horses are usually sent to saleyards. They’re mostly bought by knackeries for as little at $150, the owners extracting a final payment from their lives cut short. In some cases, studs have arrangements with knackeries selling them directly on request.

The few horses who escape the trip to the knackery are destined for an even bleaker fate, a life of cruelty through neglect and abandonment. Looking after a horse is an expensive hobby due to the costs of agistment, feed, water, riding and grooming equipment.

Horses sold to riding schools or trail-riding clubs can lead a miserable life of hard work, improper care and insufficient feed.

Previous RSPCA president Hugh Wirth commented on the RSPCA’s contact with ex-racehorses:

“We tend to see the worst abuse [of ex-racehorses], which is the end result of a disastrous trail through multiple owners, from racecourse down to standing neglected in one of these paddocks… owned but not cared for and starving”