The recent expose presented by the 7:30 Report and the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) has many people understandably angry and upset about the obvious breaches of welfare standards and the resulting suffering of many horses.

While many of us within the equine world have been aware of these issues there are few who have known how to adequately address the situation to initiate effective change. We commend CPR and 7:30 Report for their courage in thoroughly investigating and presenting this story so that supporters of thoroughbred and standardbred racing are better informed of the dark side of this industry.

Since beginning in 2012, EAQ has taken on several TB’s & SB’s and these two breeds continue to dominate the surrender requests we receive. Sadly as a small, voluntary run organisation with limited carers and funds (no Govt assistance) we have to turn away many, many more horses than we have been able to take on for rehabilitation and rehoming. It’s fair to say that the situation for horses in Australia is quite dire considering we only accept horses that are being surrendered (i.e. we do not attend sales or buy any horses as other welfare groups do – we only take on horses that are being given away).

The EAQ team are absolutely devasted about the slaughterhouses brutal methods and while we’d prefer horses weren’t being killed for pet meat or human consumption at all, the sheer volume of horses that are making their way to these places is way beyond the capacity of all of the welfare organisations in Australia combined. Most rescue groups are full to capacity already and many have waiting lists.

Horse welfare is in crisis – the burnout rate in volunteers is high and the despair and overwhelm of the situation means many good people and groups and come and gone.

There are also plenty of horse people taking on horses and retraining & reselling them privately and there is no shortage of horses available to them either. If all of the ‘unwanted’ horses that are currently being sent through the sales or to slaughter are turned away there simply is nowhere else for them to go. The slaughterhouses are realistically capitalising on (and resolving) the mess created by eccessive and indiscriminate breeding.

The governing bodies of oue equine industries MUST take action and accept their share of responsibility.

The fact that precise data about horse slaughter in Australia is unavailable is in itself deeply concerning. It can therefore also be surmised that there is limited regulation over slaughter procedures leaving the innocent horses rife for exploitation and abuse. Until there is an accurate form of tracking for each and every horse (not just racehorses) and acceptable practices are developed and enforced horses will continue to suffer.

Another concern with the lack of regulation is the likelihood of medicines and chemicals being ingested by the humans and animals who are fed meat products. There are various products used for horses that could be quite detrimental to the consumers so record keeping and testing is vital to avoid illness and toxicity. Again, without adequate regulation there is no way of knowing what the outcomes are or might be in the future.

What we would like to see happen…

  • Registration / passport for each and every horse bred (all breeds),
  • Thorough record keeping / accountability,
  • Capped / realistic breeding limits,
  • Long term strategies & funding for horses after their racing career is over,
  • Enforcement of penalties for welfare breaches.

What you can do…

  • Understand what you are supporting and be sure you’re happy to do so,
  • Write to governing bodies, councilors etc to voice your concerns,
  • Sign petitions that express the same view as your own,
  • Donate or help a reputable organisation that is helping horses and horse people.