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What is the RSPCA position on horse jumps races?

Article ID: 234
Last updated: 06 Jul, 2017
Revision: 7
Views: 13135

RSPCA Australia is opposed to jumps races (steeplechasing and hurdling) because of the high probability of a horse suffering serious injury or even death as a result of participating in these events. Despite, modifications being made, deaths have continued. A 2006 study by the University of Melbourne showed that a jumps horse was 18.9 times more likely to die than a flat racing horse1. There are many reasons for this including the race distance being at least 1 kilometre longer than flat racing and in some cases nearly 5 kilometres in length, horses carrying a heavier weight than flat racing and they must negotiate obstacles which are at least 1 metre high and often in close proximity with other horses thereby increasing a risk of collision.

Serious injuries include long-limb fractures and head and neck injuries including vertebral fractures. Jumps race injuries cause considerable pain and stress to the horse. Sometimes the injuries are so severe the horse will either die or be euthanased. It is very difficult to know the true impact as public information regarding injuries and deaths associated with training and trials as well as those becoming evident a short time after racing is not available. In addition, rules of racing, especially those relating to horse safety, are not consistent between Victoria and South Australia, which is concerning given that many jockeys and horses travel to South Australia to race.

Jumps racing events also place the jockey at a high risk of serious injury, with one study showing that jumps jockeys were 41% more likely to suffer fractures than a flats jockey 2.

In 1991, a senate select committee on animal welfare recommended that governments in States where jumps races were still held should phase them out within three years. The NSW State Government banned jump racing in 1997 under animal welfare legislation and Tasmania ceased jumps racing in 2007. Victoria and South Australia are the only states allowing jumps racing to continue.

For further information about what you can do to help stop jumps races, please see:

RSPCA South Australia: Ban jumps racing

1 Boden LA et al (2006) Risk of fatality and causes of death of Thoroughbred horses associated with racing in Victoria, Australia: 1989-2004. Equine Veterinary Journal 38: 312-318

2 Curry BA et al (2015) Workplace injuries in Thoroughbred racing: An analysis of insurance payments and injuries amongst jockeys in Australia from 2002 to 2010. Animals, 5:  897-909



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Also read
document What is the RSPCA position on racing two-year-old horses?
document RSPCA Policy C05 Horse Racing

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What is horse 'wastage' in the racehorse industry?     What is the RSPCA position on racehorse whips?