How to make horse racing more humane (Part 1)

Animal rights advocates offer improvements before Melbourne Cup 2019 in the wake of shocking footage of racehorses going to slaughter. Welfare groups say racing could be improved by banning the use of whips ahead of the Melbourne Cup.

After ex-racehorses allegedly being slaughtered and mistreated through footage from a Queensland abattoir on Melbourne Cup day, animal welfare will be in the spotlight.

Here are five changes to make racing more humane could be instituted immediately which animal welfare organisations say.

1. Two-year-old racing end

Horses do fully mature when they get five, and horses younger than four are not allowed to compete by many equestrian disciplines. The campaign director of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses Elio Celotto said that they are literally babies.

But a study in 2013  by the University of Sydney found that for those thoroughbreds can be detected which have started racing at two no ill effect and analysed the race records of 115,000 Australian thoroughbreds over 10 years. The study still advised before racing a two-year-old caution.

Thoroughbreds are much younger worked. Horses are broken in as yearlings to train for a two-year-old race. When late-born foals are as young as 16 months they can race because foals are put in the same age class if all born in a certain year.

2. Whips ban

Under Racing Australia’s rules, before the final 100-metres of the race, a jockey can only use their padded whip five times on the horse, after which there are no restrictions on the number of hits.

Both the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses and the RSPCA say they have found an unlikely ally in the leading thoroughbred owner Lloyd Williams in recent weeks and the whip could be banned immediately without affecting the sport detrimentally.

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