Friday, 27 November 2009

Wonder where this one will end up

There have been mutterings for a while that jump racing would be banned in Victoria, Australia, and now it has been, from 2011. Read the story here.

As far as I'm aware, there's no equivalent mutterings here. There are some things I disagree with very strongly in racing: breaking and racing two year olds, for one, and not giving any thought to what happens to the horses after their racing career is finished for another.

However, I love National Hunt (as jump racing is called here). Horses do die, and it is absolutely terrible to watch one of those falls when you know the horse is not going to get up. When you make the death or injuring of horses into a welfare issue that you're determined to clear up, I do wonder where it will stop. Horses die eventing, show jumping and hunting, and of course hacking on the roads is not exactly safe. If you take as your premise that the horse hasn't asked to be doing x and that therefore if y can happen you must stop doing x will that leave us with simply poddling round an arena doing dressage? (And I am simply not going to open the can of worms that is dressage...)

I suppose what worries me is how you define what is an acceptable risk to the horse, and to you. I'm more worried about the horse than the human, the human being the one with choice. A lot of changes have been made to Aintree over the years, for example. It's much safer than it was. I don't think you can remove 100% of the risk for the horse, whatever you're doing: riding is a partnership, and either you or the horse might get something wrong. It comes down to how much death you're prepared to tolerate, and I suppose if I look at the issue rationally, I obviously am prepared to accept a small amount of death, although I hate it.

4 comments:

Susanna F said...

I feel the same way you do. There is no "safe" for horses or humans. And horses need to do a job. If racing were banned overnight, what would happen to them? There's already a problem with owners not looking after retired horses.

My mother worked for one of the big Newmarket vets in the 1960s, and vividly remembers one stallion who'd had a full career, retired and... galloped into a tree in his paddock and was killed. Race course? Just fine. Retirement paddock? Lethal, in his case.

Jane Badger said...

How tragic for that stallion. I agree, there isn't a safe for anyone.

Susanna F said...

I was swapping YouTube videos with a horse loving friend and re-discovered Murphy Himself, tanking across country with Ian Stark. Then saw on his Wikipedia page that he too died of a paddock injury. All those fixed fences he took at full tilt and he fatally injured himself in retirement in a paddock, much like that stallion (who I think was called Passenger)

Jane Badger said...

There have been a couple of articles in the Aussie press supporting the trainers, but interestingly there were almost no positive comments following the articles.