Why you’ll never see me at the races…

The Hunger Games (both books and movies) have always been met with a flurry of controversy. In what seems to be a tragic case of oversimplification, people continue to protest about the violent premise of the story and the disgusting notion that cruelty and death could be considered entertainment.  (The plot centres on The Hunger Games – a tournament where poor children compete in a televised fight-to-the-death: a demented mix of Gladiator and Big Brother). To get all Year 12 English on you, I personally thought it was a very clever parable which delivered complex adult themes (like inequality, war and oppression) to a younger audience… but whatever… I digress from my point.

Today I find myself confused that there is ongoing debate about the appropriateness of this particular story while we simultaneously celebrate our very own version of the Hunger Games every spring… in fact, we brag about its ability to stop the nation. Yes, I am referring to the Australian Spring Carnival and the Racing Industry that it sustains. If people are so appalled by the fact that entertainment could be derived from another’s suffering then where are the protests about horse-racing? Why are more parents not concerned of the effect that this brutal spectacle could have on our children?

Last night ABC730 bravely (though sadly post-Melbourne Cup) aired the ghastly reality of what happens to those poor horses deemed “financially unviable” by the racing industry– the slow, the injured, the ailing. Every year approximately 18,000 racehorses are considered to be unprofitable and are slaughtered to be turned into meat. I had always heard rumours of the proverbial glue factory and (until a few years ago) thought it was surely an urban myth, but as the footage last night horrifyingly illustrated it is still very much a reality.

“Something like 8,500 horses at an early age are excluded from the racing industry. Usually due to injury – mostly due to injury. Mostly due to the fact that they were prepared for racing when they were juveniles and not mature in bone and limb. That’s the big problem for the racing industry.”

– Hugh Wirth

The poor injured souls that don’t make the cut are categorised by a word all too familiar to anyone with any knowledge about the issues animals face when used for capital gain – wastage. Once their financial worth has been decided these horses… sorry, the wastage… is transported to a Saddleyard where horses are sold predominantly to Knackeries (slaughterhouses for meat not for human consumption i.e. dog food). At the knackeries horses are led into small fenced areas and are one-by-one shot in front of the other horses. The waiting horses are clearly shaking with fear.

As distressing as it is, I am a massive fan of confronting yourself with hard truths. It provides an awareness that forces change. One of the most dangerous weapons in society is ignorance. So please try and watch the below video if you still are in any doubt about the reality of getting gussied up and punting on these animals.

Back in 2010 a Western Australian restaurant made national headlines for proposing to add horse meat to his French-inspired menu. As you can see from this article which interviews the infamous Restaurateur (Vince Garreffa) people threatened to never eat at his restaurant again. While I obviously don’t agree with eating horses I also fail to see the difference between supporting old Vince’s restaurant and heading out to punt on this year’s favourite?

So I propose that if you honestly have a problem with the racing industries treatment of these beautiful animals – the animals the racing industry claims to love and care for – that you stop supporting it. I am sure that I could be labelled as a spoilsport or even unpatriotic for having this opinion but I don’t care especially when it means I am taking a stand against celebrating cruelty. There are plenty of other opportunities to wear pretty dresses if that is what floats your boat. Why not hold your own Anti-Cup party which allows you to dress up and bet on a sport that doesn’t involved flogging a poor animal round a track. The winnings could even be donated to your favorite charity instead?

Take Action

Click through on this link to tell racing bosses that cruelty is not profitable. As the amazing organisation Animals Australia suggests – “pledge not to bet on horse races while young, healthy horses are killed by the thousands each year. Help urge the racing industry to care for all horses — not just the ones who win the most”

More Information

If you would like more information on the racing industries dirty little secret then please visit Horse Racing Kills.

I also absolutely LOVE this article by Melbourne Writer Marieke Hardy – well worth a read!

What’s your opinion? Do you support horse racing? Love to hear from you in the comments!