The disturbing sidelines of the racecourse: horse slaughtering
In the spirit of this month’s Kenducky Derby, I would like to devote a post to the masses of racing horses who end up in slaughter houses. Even big winners, such as Ferdinand, are treated by slaughterhouses, simply like meat. Therefore, champions or not, all of them deserve this tribute.
Every morning, before the public arrives at the racecourse, hundreds of thoroughbreds are auctioned and sold to the meat industry for some hundreds of bucks. Horses that are either retired or or unlikely to be successful -thus profitable enough- at the racecourse. Let alone foals who are sold for less than $100 to face the same fate.
All those horses are slaughtered for human or pet consumption. It’s a matter of culture, price and gastronimic tastes for buyers, a solution for owners who “can’t find any other uses” for those animals and a much appreciated source of profit for the slaughterhouse owners.
Of course the problem is not exclusively American and does not include exclusively racing horses, but it is highlighed every year with the opportunity of the Kenducky Derby event, with a plethora of equestrian and other animal charities asking from people to boycott horse racing.
But is abolishing racing a solution? I don’t think so. Because large numbers of dressage, showjumping and other trained horses end up to abattoirs, those places being used as a cheap -or the only profitable- method of euthanasia. Let alone wild horses.
Therefore, banning racing is not a way to tackle horse slaughtering. Laws, maybe? But what kind of laws? Who will implement them and who will stop the transportation of those creatures to countries with more flexible legislation? Maybe some international agreement? Well, tell the governments of Japan, France, Russia, Germany, Belgium etc. -whose officials might be horsemeat fans themselves- to tell their peoples that there will be no more horsemeat for them, hence banishing a part of their national culture.
An here comes the keyword. Culture. Yes, culture. Horsemeat is considered a special delicacy, and recipes made of it national pride for some. If you banish pride, horsemeat will keep being consumed, as happens in the case of other animals in some countries. The bet is to make change their taste. Turn to other “delicacies”. And the slaughtering industry will have less demand to cover. And horse breeders won’t breed thousands of horses of “no use”. Because it will be costly.
The web is packed with disturbing images, videos and articles on this cheap or profitable (depending on who does it) “disposal”.
Here are some articles I have read, followed by a quite harsh video:
- From Kentucky Derby to dinner plate: how to end the horsemeat pipeline (2014) by Edward McClelland – The Guardian
- From Derby winner to a slaughterhouse? (2006)by Bill Finley – ESPN
HORSE RACING; 1986 Derby Winner Was Slaughtered, Magazine Reports (2003)
by Bill Finley – The New York Times
Argentina-Horse Meat world production figures (2009)
by unknown – Farming News
And the here’s the video. CAUTION: CRUEL CONTENT
Although there is no hiding that racehorses often are sold for meat after racing, I don’t think its as dark in the UK. With the launch of our ROR show series more and more people are willing to rehome ex racehorses as riding animals with many owners and trainers looking for good homes for these retired athletes. We also have strict passporting about being used for human consumption but not animals… so doesn’t completely solve the problem.
Sorry for the late reply, but your comments did not load on my browser, urgh! Anyways, first of all, why should a 5 year old horse be made redundant? Judging from the fact that horses enter the racecourse at the age of three, I cannot imagine myself becoming redundant after two years of work and then being slaughtered. I think that there must be a variety of categories in the racecourse, for older horses to be able to compete as well. Besides, I think that “redundant” horses could be wanted by equine therapy centres or equestrian clubs if offered. There should be a network or something through which people can find the horses they are searching for at lower prices, why not? But this does not have to do only with the racecourse, as I said. Foals born as waste in the production process of PREMARIN, a menopause medicament, face the same fate. Why don’t we slaughter cats, dogs, parrots, monkeys, hamsters and other pets? Why should they have more dignity than horses?
I think the biggest problem is that apart from national hunt racing, by the time a horse is 5, better horses have come through. Also, one of the main reasons racehorses start so long is so they can be at stud sooner where stallions in particular can make a lot more money for owners. In the UK the majority of mares retire to become broodmares. Also as I said, many racehorses in the UK are rehomed for riding careers in other disciplines such as Eventing and this is becoming more and more popular. So it isn’t the end of the road. Also National Hunt horses continue to have later careers with the youngest horse in the Grand National this year being 6 or 7. Have a look at ROR (retraining of racehorses) in the UK. It’s an organisation dedicated to retraining racehorses for new careers and they hold their own shows and championships in lots of disciplines.
Something your posting does not cover – what should happen to all the redundant horses after they are no longer required, let loose to fend for themselves and slowly starve? If you are going to close one avenue you must offer a viable alternative.