Posts Tagged ‘animal activists’

Well It’s Come To This……

“OH MY GOD!!”

The cry from beloved was so full of anguish that it made me look around for attacking ninja, the kids to run for cover and for the fish to continue swimming unconcernedly. What the hell?

I ask what is wrong and got an answer I could never have been ready for: “I’ve just agreed with a Robyn Riley article.” No, I could never be ready for that.

I read the article shortly after this and found that I too also agreed with it. The world will never be the same. Ms. Riley has written about the recent ban on jumps racing, and how it will mean the death of thousands of perfectly healthy horses.

I think I have worked out how to influence policy in this state. What you need to do is find a small number of like-minded individuals and start writing letters to various people in a position of influence. Find people who disagree with you and try to change their opinions. If they start providing intelligent answers to your questions then shout at them, long and loud, until they simply walk away, unable to put up with your shrill, adenoidal voice any longer. Find facts that back up your story, if you can’t find any just make them up and pretend they’re true. Everyone will be so impressed by your conviction that they won’t bother checking your “facts”, mainly because they will have all walked away, shaking their heads and trying to clear the echoes of said shrill voice.

Jumps Racing is banned from the end of 2010. The animal activists have got together and all twenty of them have forced the Victorian Racing Club to end an industry that employs thousands of people, and cares for (yes, that’s right: cares for) the animals involved.

The original complaint came from the fact that several horses had died while racing in Jumps events. The VRC initially had a think about it and came up with brush top jumps. Rather than save the horse it had the reverse effect. More horses died, the shouting only got louder, more people got headaches and paracetamol sales went up.

Beloved and I are horse people, insofar as, well, we own one. Our boy Jet is a bay thoroughbred gelding and is a marvelous example of how beautiful these creatures can be. Beloved does light work with him on weekends while I walk around his paddock picking up poo. The sight of him jumping for joy (not a euphemism) at the sight of his feed bucket always makes me smile. He is extremely placid and appears to love us as much as we love him. This is the point that the shouty people don’t seem to get. Everyone who works with horses by choice loves their animals. This also goes for the horse racing industry.

Beloved used to work in the industry, I have no such experience. So the next bit will have to be taken with a fair bit of salt as I didn’t check with her to see if I was right; if you all assume that I am, it will go a bit smoother.

The life of a race horse starts off pretty well standard: live in a paddock eat, drink and run around like a loon for about twelve months. Then training starts, this basically consists of living in a paddock, eating, drinking and running around in a more controlled fashion. At two years of age, racing beckons, and this consists of eating, drinking and running around with a little person on your back in a more tightly controlled fashion. This will continue until the horse is about four or five years of age. A decision is then made, based on ability and soundnesss, as to whether racing continues or other options are presented.

A horse that is no longer fit for racing, whether through health or ability, can go onto become a dressage/equestrian horse, a pleasure horse (like our Jet), a jumps horse (until recently), or they can go off to the knackery where they will be turned into glue, dog food and cheap sustenance for detained refugees.

I have had many conversations about horse racing with uneducated types who simply spout the mistruth that it’s animal cruelty. If you are someone who thinks this way I urge you to head out to the Flemington stables and look at how these animals live and are treated. They are given the very best in food, care and shelter. It is so good in fact that even the ancient pharaohs would have had the decency to look around their surroundings and whisper, “Don’t you think this is a bit much?” The simple fact is there is no benefit to the stables to mistreat their charges. Spending the money on care is more likely to net them money on the track.

So we come to Jumps racing. I mentioned above that the VRC installed brush top jumps to combat horse falls and it appears to have failed miserably. All evidence points to the fact that horses aren’t stupid. They soon worked out that the top of the jumps weren’t solid and they could run right through them. This, coupled with the innate desire of the thoroughbred to run and run, meant that the general speed of jumps racing increased dramatically. More falls were inevitable, which unfortunately, meant more horses were injured and had to be put down.

We’re still talking about just over ten horses over the jumps racing season and, while it is very sad that it occurs at all, it is still better to provide many horses with an alternative career to what will happen when jumps racing ceases to be. As Ms. Riley pointed out in her article, stables aren’t charities, and no racing stable is going to hang onto a horse that can’t race. Feeding, vet bills and general stabling costs make hanging onto uncompetitive horses unprofitable and therefore unlikely to happen.

As I write this I still can’t fathom what the activists were trying to achieve here. Animal cruelty? Not really a factor. I do know that they have managed to put trainers, strappers, jockeys and other associated people out of work not to mention punch massive budgetary holes in regional centres like Warrnambool, often regarded as one of the premier jump locations in not only Victoria but Australia, but all this pales into comparison when compared to what will now happen to the horses.

So, I say this to anyone who has worked with the activists, signed a petition or in any other way performed to achieve the ban on jumps racing. Well done. The blood is on your hands. To save a dozen horses a year you have condemned hundreds to death. Sleep well.

This article was first published in the December 2009 issue of The King’s Tribune.