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RSPCA Policy C05 Horse Racing

Article ID: 642
Last updated: 28 Apr, 2016
Revision: 11
Views: 1247
 5.1 RSPCA Australia considers that there are significant animal welfare problems inherent in the horse racing industry. These include problems with over-supply, housing, feeding, socialisation, training, injuries, whipping, administration of banned or unregistered substances, physical overexertion and fatigue and the fate of unwanted horses (wastage).
 5.2 RSPCA Australia considers that action and a demonstrated commitment is needed by industry to recognise and effectively resolve these animal welfare problems.
 5.3 RSPCA Australia considers action is needed to address over-supply and wastage rates in the horse racing industry. There should be an expectation and formal processes in place within the industry that racehorses will be provided with a suitable alternative role (e.g. recreational horse) on retirement and provisions made to ensure their welfare.

 5.4

Where horse racing is conducted, RSPCA Australia advocates the following:

  • The comprehensive regulation of horse racing by an independent body with a formal and complete separation of the integrity and regulatory functions from the commercial functions.
  • The adoption of compulsory and enforced animal welfare standards for the horse racing industry to eliminate practices that cause injury, pain, suffering or distress and ensure all racehorses have a good quality of life.
  • The adoption of formal processes to address over-supply and wastage rates. There should be an expectation within the industry that racehorses will be provided with a suitable alternative role (e.g. recreational horse) on retirement and provisions made to ensure their welfare.
  • The mandatory collection and publication of comprehensive lifecycle (birth to death records) and injury statistics and the development of a national identification and traceability register/system for racehorses.

Note: Horse racing includes Thoroughbred racing, Harness racing and Jumps racing.

Note: Banned or unregistered substances includes unregistered veterinary chemical products, restricted prescription medicines (whether veterinary or human medicines) that have not been properly supplied and labelled, or any other substances or products used outside of the regulatory framework.

 5.5

Racing of physically immature horses

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the racing of immature horses (e.g. two-year-old races) and supports the requirement that independent veterinary certification verifying that the animal has matured satisfactorily be obtained before training for riding is permitted to commence.

 5.6 Events

 5.6.1

Jumps racing

RSPCA Australia is opposed to jumps races (steeplechasing and hurdling) because of the high risk of injury and death associated with this activity.

 5.6.2

Endurance and bush races

Endurance races must only be held under regulated circumstances where the animals are well trained and certified healthy, fit and suitable to participate. Competing horses must be regularly checked by a suitably qualified veterinarian and withdrawn at the first sign of distress.

 5.7

Devices and equipment

Any device or equipment used to control or modify behaviour or performance in horse racing or associated training must be humane and not cause injury, pain, suffering or distress to the animal.

 5.7.1

Whips

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of whips on racehorses for the purpose of enhancing performance as they inflict pain and distress.

 5.7.2

Tongue ties

The RSPCA is opposed to the use of tongue ties on racehorses as they inflict pain and distress.

 5.7.3

Spurs

The RSPCA is opposed to the use of spurs on racehorses as they inflict pain and distress.

 5.7.4

Head pole burrs

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of head pole burrs in harness racing as they inflict pain and distress and involve punishment.

Note: Whip refers to any whip that makes physical contact with the horse including ‘padded’ whips.

(adopted 30/3/2016)

See also RSPCA Policy H4 Export of animals from Australia


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Also read
document What is the RSPCA position on horse jumps races?
document What is horse 'wastage' in the racehorse industry?
document What is the RSPCA position on racehorse whips?
document Do padded whips cause pain to horses?
document What is the RSPCA position on racing two-year-old horses?
document What are the animal welfare issues associated with Thoroughbred racing in Australia?

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RSPCA Policy C04 Animals in Competitive Events     RSPCA Policy C06 Greyhound Racing