Animal welfare is a subject the NZTBA cares a great deal about
The furore created by a recent Australian ABC documentary highlighted some abominable practices in a Queensland abattoir and has prompted ramifications from the Queensland government and throughout the thoroughbred industry in Australia.
Racing Victoria have reaffirmed their commitment to the welfare of retired racehorses and announced a A$25 million boost to fund the first three years of an expanded welfare program. The VRC have pledged 10% of their public ticket sales and 5% of their annual membership fees to the fund as well.
New South Wales takes 1% of stake money for animal welfare and rehoming, along with 1% for Jockey welfare.
Since the documentary was screened it has come to light that it was recorded over a year ago, bringing into question the ethics of a reporter who sits on that kind of evidence waiting for the “appropriate” time to release it. Why not expose it as soon as it was discovered? How many horses were made to suffer in the interim?
Unfortunately, around this time of the with the Melbourne Cup carnival in action, our industry comes under fire from various bodies such as CPR (The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses) and SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation), and some mainstream media buy into it.
Social media, and the wonderful world wide web become our enemy as misinformation, inaccurate statistics and just plain lies are published as fact and sensationalised beyond belief.
That’s not to say that our industry isn’t guilty of dropping the ball on welfare, but our association is working on improving this and worked closely with NZTR on the production of their new welfare guidelines released on the October 25th. A comprehensive 30-page document, its key objective is to ensure “A Thoroughbred should be provided a good life, with the care and conditions that allow it to thrive and perform to its natural abilities.”
You can read the document here https://loveracing.nz/News/28898/ThoroughbredWelfareguidelinesreleased.aspx;.
The NZTBA supports the Beyond the Barriers scheme, along with the Dunstan Ex-Factor competition, and this year we held the inaugural Ready Teddy Trophy event for retired thoroughbreds at the Matamata Equestrian Two Day Event.
In light of the dreadful practices in the Queensland abattoirs we have written to the Minister in charge of MPI who oversees abattoirs in New Zealand. We have asked them to ensure they have humane practices in place for horse euthanasia and also to supply us with actual numbers that are slaughtered to counteract those bandied about by the activists.
But we could do more. Maybe it is time to consider making it compulsory for everyone who wants to breed a racehorse to be a member of the NZTBA so they must abide by the guidelines outlined by NZTR and agreed by us? This would certainly assist with traceability.
It has also been suggested that it’s time to cap the number of mares a stallion can serve.
Here are two thought provoking articles TDN’s The Stallion cap debate divides: https://www.tdnausnz.com.au/edition/2019-09-09/stallion-cap-debate-divides
ITBF Restricting book size is not the right route: https://www.international-tbf.com/2019/10/29/restricting-book-sizes-is-not-the-right-route/
Despite these efforts the welfare of racehorses is a huge target and was the topic of a presentation at the recent International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, in Paris in early October. It’s a worldwide issue and some interesting points were raised there.
Activists want to promote a world where animals enjoy the same rights as humans, and even if we were to address the issues like use of the whip, the training and racing of two-year-olds, accidents and slaughterhouses, they would still want more as their primary complaint is that we simply use animals.
Even if our horses are treated much better than most domestic animals, their every need well and truly catered for, the very fact that we ride and work with horses is objectionable to them.
Death due to accident or injury and slaughterhouses are used by activists to try and convince the public that we are essentially cruel to our horses.
We must be proactive in promoting all the good things about our industry. Show them how much we love our horses, and our pain when we lose a horse to injury or illness to counteract their negativity wherever we can. -NZTBA