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20 Genge St, Civic


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Horse racing

Despite the glamour surrounding it, the horse racing industry is cruel. The cruelty ranges from the barbaric whipping of horses during the races, to the vast numbers of ‘excess’ racehorses that are killed annually in Australia. Almost 40% of racehorses are discarded by the industry each year due to poor performance, illness or injury, or behavioural or other problems. Most of this ‘wastage’ (to use the industry’s term for poor performing horses), is sent to horse abattoirs around Australia and slaughtered for human consumption or pet food.

Serious animal welfare issues associated with the industry include using drugs to modify horse behaviour, walking horses continuously for 10-12 hours to prevent them ‘misbehaving’, and using severe aggression and even flogging to assert the riders’ dominance over horses. The industry still accepts whipping horses as ‘normal’ behaviour; whereas openly and repeatedly thrashing other companion animals such as dogs would be in breach of animal protection laws around Australia. The British Horseracing Authority has recently introduced new measures to reduce excessive whipping by jockeys. While Australia had the chance to lead the world on horse-welfare issues when similar rules were introduced in 2009, the rules barely lasted a month before being dumped.

The use of whips in horse racing is again under scrutiny following a 2011 University of Sydney study. The study showed how easily whips can be misused by riders.  By slowing down high-quality, high-speed video footage of races, the study revealed that horses were regularly hit with unpadded parts of the whip, and frequently struck in the abdomen which is regarded as unacceptable around the world.

The horse racing industry therefore appears to be motivated by profit rather than concern for the horses it depends on. For further information on animal welfare issues in the horse racing industry, see

Horse racing in the ACT

On an international scale Australia has more racecourses than any other nation. Regular horse racing occurs in the ACT at Thoroughbred Park in North Canberra. The main racing events are the Opal Stakes Day race day in early March, and of course Melbourne Cup Day. Outside of those events, smaller race events occur approximately twice a month throughout the year.

In 2011 Animal Liberation ACT held a demonstration at Thoroughbred Park in Canberra in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup race day, to highlight the animal cruelty involved in the horse racing industry.  Click here for ALACT's media release 'Unaware punters have blood on their hands'.


Horse Racing in Canberra



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