HorseracingHumans and horses go back a long way. Some estimate that the domestication of horses occurred at about 2,000 BC, others estimate as early as 4,500 BC. Horses have long been used for transportation, farming and in warfare have carried soldiers into battle – often paying for this with their lives.

Many people see horse racing as a harmless pursuit which the horses enjoy. Like a lot of activities that involve animals, the truth is that this is an industry in which there is a huge amount of suffering.

Every year around 12,000 foals are born into the British and Irish racing industries. Only 40% of these will go on to become race horses. Those who are considered not suitable will either be transported abroad and slaughtered for their meat, or will change hands in an increasingly bleak future where their value – and therefore quality of living – deteriorates. Of the horses chosen for a career in racing, around 400 will be raced to death every year.

Race horses are bred for speed and not strength, therefore they are susceptible to sustaining injuries which they are likely to be shot for. Aside from the 400 or so horses raced to death every year, thousands more deemed to be commercial ‘failures’ will be disposed of, most likely in the meat trade.

horses transported for slaughter

Horses being transported for slaughter. Image source:

It is also common for horses to develop serious racing-related illnesses such as bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers. Whilst performing, they are whipped in an attempt to spur them on, which is painful and makes them fearful and distracted. In fact, the more a horse is whipped, the less likely he or she is to win the race. Our investigations have revealed other horrors behind the scenes. The top breeding stallions are over-worked and kept isolated for years from other horses. Breeding females are subjected to an endless cycle of pregnancy that often involves the use of drugs and other artificial interventions. Every year, horses are injured and killed in the Grand National – a deliberately hazardous race in which most horses do not even finish.

Read more about this cruel industry at

Launched in 2007, lists every on-course Thoroughbred fatality in Britain.

Bite Size Vegan have produced a highly informative short video about the Horse Racing industry that is well worth watching and sharing:

See also Rodeo

Back to Animal Related Issues