Glorifying death

October 2019
It is lamentable that Michelle Payne and horse racing is being glorified.
In truth, flats racing kills; the rate of deaths among female jockeys is so high that the Australian Jockey Association admits concern.
The death rate among flats horses is high – a horse dies in flats races/training every third day here in Australia. And then there is the wastage of thousands of young horses every year at a knackery.
A study of the history of the Melbourne Cup is not a pleasant one, littered with horse deaths. What has happened to Prince of Penzance? Does Michelle care?
Alice Shore

Very disappointing 

 September 2019

I and many other people I know who have compassion for animals, have been very disappointed to see the front page plus two whole pages inside the paper, devoted to an event which many find extremely distasteful and distressing.

Watching horses being forced to chase down other horses, or bucking and kicking because of the tight surcingle around their very sensitive lower belly area, is not my idea of entertainment. What sort of message are children getting out of this ?

Perhaps an extra page of “Letters to the Editor” might be more appropriate and more in tune with readers’ expectations ?

Alex Hodges

Horse Sense

August 2019

I read with interest the article titled "Horse sense to give women new life at the next gathering."

Equine Therapy is base on mutual, quiet and respectful interaction between horse and person.

So unlike the misuse and abuse suffered by racehorses treated as commodities.

Equine Therapy is based on gentleness while racing is based on exploitation and greed.

In another article, it was good to read about echidna welfare. The echidnas on Kangaroo Island will be in danger if the planned development goes ahead.

Alice Shore

Retire horses

August 2019

I refer to Michelle Etheridge’s article, “Island has a cause for celebration,” as a new causeway to Granite Island is under consultation.
Consideration also needs to take place about the use of a horse-drawn tram.
To use horses was acceptable in 1864 but is definitely not today. The historic trams would make an excellent attraction in a museum, creating profit for the community.
The Clydesdale horses could be retired to a welcoming sanctuary where their needs could be met.
Let’s be creative by using purpose-built electric/ battery-powered vehicles, bringing the ride into the 21st century.
Diane Cornelius

Another horse dead?

July 2019

I have just heard that a horse named “Hero’s Honor” has been put down after falling in a jumps race at Gawler?  When is this carnage going to be outlawed in South Australia, as it has been in all other states except Victoria?

Anyone with an ounce of compassion for their animals would not put them at risk like this, not to mention the potential death and injury to the jockeys.

The RSPCA has been calling for an end to jumps racing since at least 1991, when the Senate Select Enquiry into Animal Welfare handed down its verdict on this cruel sport. It is obvious to me that thoroughbred racehorses are now very expendable, and it shames me to live in a state that still permits jumps races to occur. They cannot be made safe either for horses or riders. The risks are just too great.

A Hodges

Give and take 

June 2019
We are giving $24 million to gambling codes with recently exposed dodgy track records (“ $24m racing carrot”  ), pardon the pun. 
And now the State Government is going to double the carparking fees at public hospitals (“ Hospital carpark fee rise” , 10/6/19)? 
Not only that, an even bigger kick in the teeth for the battlers, the free first two-hour parking at The QEH, is being taken away. 
The imbalance is just disgusting in my view. 
Where is the compassion? 
Where is the decency? 
Oh, I forgot, “the age of entitlement is over” . 
Alex Hodges

Horses on market 

June 2019
I believed the Liberal Party was in favour of free markets. Industries should stand on their own two feet and not be propped up by government subsidies. 
Why then is the Marshall State Government using taxpayers’ funds to prop up the ailing racing industry? 
Couldn’t $24 million be put to better use than propping up a gambling industry? For example, supporting the homeless (“ Homeless left out in the cold"). 
If the industry is so cash-strapped, why does it continue to run the unpopular jumps races, often with only five starters? 
Prizemoney is mostly sent over the border to Victoria, and yet the industry cries poor. 
If it can’t attract the support of the community to make it sustainable it shouldn’t be bailed out by the Government. 
Dr Suzanne Pope

Racing’s dark side 

June 2019
I support the views expressed by Dr Suzanne Pope (“ Have your say”) objecting to the Marshall Government using taxpayers’ funds to prop up the ailing racing industry. 
Not everyone gambles responsibly. Research into the Australian racing industry shows a history of dishonest practices, including sodium bicarbonate top-ups, or cobalt – a prohibitive substance – being administered to horses. 
Added to this deception of cover-ups  we can now thank social media for exposing what the industry would like to remain hidden – the cruel demise of Winx’s half-brother, sent to the Korean meat market, along with other Australian exported horses. 
In the glorification of Winx, we ignore the dark underside of this industry. This includes the fact that the Australian Government sanctions, in the export of our racehorses, a cruel and inhumane fate in South Korea once their suitability has expired. 
Pamela Tyler

No protesters

May 2019

I was disappointed in The Courier's two-page coverage of this year's races at Oakbank that there was no mention of the protesters.

There was not even a photo among the multitude of images. Rather biased reporting I think.

Alice Shore

Racing funding gone

May 2019

I applaud the current State Government for withdrawing grants to the racing industry. 
It is lamentable Opposition spokeswoman on racing Katrine Hildyard does not understand racing is a nasty business for horses and stablehands. Racing SA estimates 9000 people are employed in the industry. 
Hardly the large employer that Ms Hildyard claimed in last week’s Sunday Mail. 
Alice Shore

Whipping hurts

March 2019

Kevin Scheer suggests we ask the racing industry for information about the effects of whipping on racehorses. Why not consult the scientists who, in an ABC Catalyst episode, showed whipping has detrimental effects on a horse’s welfare? Whipping causes severe bruising and tissue damage. We are told by trainers that racehorses love to race. So why use a whip? 
Alice Shore

Racing industry "crying foul"

February 2019

Anyone who has read “Power without glory” by Frank Hardy would know that the horse-racing industry has been mostly rotten to the core for decades. Follow the money! How much do governments get from the racing industry?  How many politicians and corporate heads have shares in racehorses ? Cite Gerry Harvey for one ! 

These poor animals are expendable, trainers are cold, hard and ruthless?! Young horses are broken in as quickly as possible using all sorts of horrible methods, tying tails to bridles, tying up one leg etc. I have heard this from people who have worked in this area, but too scared to do anything about it!  A friend of mine was talking to an ex-strapper a couple of years ago and was told that there was a trainer at Morphettville who would take the losing horses into a stable, close the door and beat them with whips to make them terrified of that device.

If the government wanted this rotten industry cleaned up, it would immediately legislate under the Animal Welfare Act to ban the whip! Weir SHOULD be banned for life and the fact that the racing industry appears to be policing itself, is reprehensible. This country has lost its moral compass on a whole lot of levels. 

 Alex Hodge

Horse treatment 

February 2019
Leo Schlink’s article “Weir could seal fate” (The Advertiser, yesterday) details the case against horse trainer Darren Weir. 
In the face of this evidence, it will be interesting to hear just how Weir tries to justify his cruel treatment of animals. 
It is also encouraging that he is being made to do so. 
Perhaps further investigations will reveal further misconduct by others in the racing industry. 
This dark side of this fashionable and lucrative sport may yet be brought to light. 
R.E. Kerr

Ruthless industries

January 2019

I would appear that the racing industry does not want to acknowledge the real reasons why people are abandoning their so-called sport.

Here is my opinion why. People are deeply concerned about the whipping of racehorses; the racing of them when it is extremely hot; over-breeding of them resulting in thousands being discarded as 'wastage;' the numbers that are raced too young resulting in pain and injuries; and the medicating of them and the numbers that fail drug tests. 

As for greyhound racing with the exposes that have come out regarding extreme cruelty and discarding of dogs, often to cruel countries overseas,

then no wonder people do not want to support this activity. Only a very small percentage of spent greyhounds are rehomed.

In my view, it is only the cold-hearted and insensitive who would support these gambling 'industries!'

The people involved say they love their animals; seems that in most cases, this is until they stop winning. A horse was found at Echuca horse sales and it had won a million dollars. This animal was just another victim of a ruthless industry, and I have heard first-hand accounts about the way some of the big studs and training facilities are operated. It made me nauseated. 

Alex Hodges

Hot for horses 

January 2019

Victor Harbor Council chief executive Victoria MacKirdy has expressed disappointment that the Granite Island horse tram had to be stopped, and also that the safety of horses and passengers was paramount. 
So I would like to ask her why she thinks it’s appropriate for horses to be pulling this tram in excessive heat in summer, often up to 40C? 
I for one, am thankful on yesterday’s 41C day that the tram was not operating. 

Alex Hodges

 Ban fireworks for animals’ sake

January 2019

On the Queensland Government website we read, “noise from fireworks can cause distress, especially as fireworks can sound like gunfire. The noise can also cause tinnitus and deafness or aggravate a nervous condition. “People who suffer from asthma can experience discomfort and epileptics can experience seizures following fireworks displays.

“When frightened by fireworks, horses and dogs have been known to injure themselves and others by running away, potentially causing accidents and damage to property.”

If all these detrimental effects of fireworks are clearly recognised by the Queensland Government, why on earth isn’t it acting responsibly and banning all fireworks?

If fireworks were banned, we wouldn’t need the RSPCA to warn us, each year, to tightly secure our pets so they are not run over by cars, impaled on fences, or strangled on chains.

We wouldn’t need to be warned to relocate our horses so they are not killed or injured trying while attempting to flee.

And, no longer would the New Year start, as it does now, with countless numbers of traumatised and injured dogs in our shelters.  

Jenny Moxham

Racing funding gone

December 2018

I applaud the current State Government for withdrawing grants to the racing industry. 
It is lamentable Opposition spokeswoman on racing Katrine Hildyard does not understand racing is a nasty business for horses and female stablehands. Racing SA estimates 9000 people are employed in the industry. 
Hardly the large employer that Ms Hildyard claimed in last week’s Sunday Mail. 
Alice Shore

Animal Service

November 2018

I write to thank the Nairne RSL for honouring animals in their Anzac Service. It is estimated that 10-1 million horses and mules died during army service in WW1.

There are several well-researched books about the uses/ sufferings/ deaths of animals in war. My Uncle who served in France's trenches told me, "I can never get the screams of dying horses out of my head." 

Thank you Sharon and Warren Gunter for drawing our attention to the non-human animals, so long ignored.

Alice Shore

Animal Cruelty

December 2018

Many photos show a cruel world for animals; firstly at the Kapunda Rodeo horses and bulls were treated unkindly; then the glamour of some ladies at the Gawler races is used to cover up the suffering of horses.

Des Bellamy's letter in the same paper gives insight into this year's Melbourne Cup where Cliffofmoher was euthanised on track, and another horse back in the stables after the race and several jockeys (including the winner) were fined for over whipping.

But his letter also lists an overview of the suffering of race horses: 119 deaths on Australian tracks this year. What about the thousands of deaths off track? At the slaughterhouse?

In distant paddocks without sufficient feed?

In early morning trial which the public don't attend?

There is nothing glamorous about horse racing.

There is nothing glamorous about using animals for entertainment.

Alice Shore

Unnecessary Cruelty

November 2018


"Put down"

"Put out of his misery"

All polite terms to disguise the fact that the stallion Cliffsofmoher was killed after suffering a fractured right shoulder during the Melbourne Cup.

This was a totally needless death, yet another example of animals suffering to amuse often intoxicated punters.

Before they've even finished maturing, these 500 kilogram animals are forced to race at breakneck speeds while being whipped and pushed past their limits, supported on ankles as small as those of humans.

Cliffsofmoher was the sixth horse to die due to the Melboune Cup since 2013.

Two other horses were found to be lame after the race, another suffered lacerations after crashing into Clifffsofmoher, and a fourth horse suffered an internal bleed. Of course, horses die at lower profile racing events all the time: during the last racing year 119 were pronounced dead on Australian tracks - that's one animal every three days. 

They die of cardiac arrest, haemorrhaging, ruptured aortas and broken necks, legs, or pelvises, and that's without mentioning the thousands of horses bred for the industry who don't make the grade and are abandoned, neglected, or sent to slaughter. 

Considering Australians hate cruelty to animals, a race in which horses routinely die is fundamentally un-Australian.

While public holidays give Aussies a break, horses are breaking legs. It's time for the nation to stop the race.

Desmond Bellamy  Special Projects Coordinator PETA, Australia.

The Melbourne Cup

 November 2018

When is the weather ever hot or wet enough to cancel the gruelling Melbourne Cup, and not risk the lives of the thoroughbred racing “gladiators?” It seems never?  Now we have watched another sickening fatality occur, this time a five year old horse that had already endured the long plane flight from Ireland, and already won $1.761.000 ! 

Isn’t it also time for the aging “Who shot the barman” with winnings totalling $4.581.000, to be awarded the luxury retirement he so richly deserves? Also six jockeys being penalised for whip breaches is outrageous and it’s time to ban these devices.

No wonder the interest in going to the races is waning as people begin to realise how expendable these animals are, especially the geldings, and how many thousands end up as pet food every year.  The gambling also loses its shine when hard earned dollars are continually lost in what has always been called “a mugs’ game?” 

It’s certainly no game for the horses who have no choice. The jockeys know their lives are at risk with each ride, but they do have a choice.  Those who attend for the fashion parade, please think long and hard about what you are really supporting.  In my opinion, the only description is potential horse and human carnage for entertainment?

Alex Hodges

Feeding The Truth

November 2018
Thanks to The Feed for the segment on Melbourne Cup evening regarding the possible fates of ex-racehorses . The program investigated some of the unglamour behind the false screen of glamour presented by the racing fraternity. 
At least, the death of Cliffsofmoher cannot be covered up. Each year, there are thousands of deaths of horses bred for racing, deaths at morning and barrier trials, at knackeries and (usually slowly) in distant paddocks. 

Alice Shore

Billboard for cruelty

October 2018

The public is rightly outraged over the decision of the NSW government to allow horse racing advertisement on the sails of the Opera House.

What's next - booze ads on the walls of hospitals?

Betting odds displayed on ATM screens.

The architect who drew up the Opera House plans to preserve its identity warned that going ahead with the proposal was akin to "throwing garbage" at the Australian landmark.

Garbage indeed!

Horse racing is a vile industry, in which on average one horse dies in Australian racetracks every three days.

Horses are raced too young and too hard and their bones are not up to the immense impact and stress.

They routinely suffer from injuries, lameness and exhaustion.

Horses are whipped and forced to run at breakneck speed.

To keep them running when they are recuperating, they are given painkilling drugs. All this often leads to broken legs and death.

We should not be promoting this cruelty and violence anywhere, let alone all over Australia's most iconic building.

Des Bellamy, Special projects co-ordinator PETA Australia

Cruel whips 

September 2018

Thank you, Rex Jory, for your wonderful take on whips in horse racing, and the many reasons they should be banned. 
The trouble is that most people do not see what happens at training stables and who’s going to monitor whipping there? A couple of years ago, I heard from a credible witness who had been employed in a racing stable that the trainer would take the losing horses into a shed, close the door and whip them to make them terrified of the whip. I would hope this sort of barbarism is not common, but how would we know? 
After all, these horses have been described by some reporters as “machines” . 
Says it all, really, doesn’t it? 

Camel races

August 2018

Two wrongs don’t make a right and tormenting camels by transporting them to be used in races (“Welfare fears for camel races”) is just adding to the cruelty of whipping horses down a racetrack.

Morphettville’s marketing manager, Luke Schapel needs to realise that this “change of strategy” is simply making the “SAJC out of touch in relation to community expectations regarding animal welfare” as Dr Eyers of the RSPCA stated.

Abuse of animals for entertainment is unacceptable, barbaric and disgusting.

Where is our government when it comes to standing up for those who have no voice in Parliament?

We must all be the voice for these poor suffering creatures and speak for them when we vote.

Christine Pierson

Cruel whips

 August 2018
Thank you, Rex Jory, for your wonderful take on whips in horse racing, and the many reasons they should be banned. 
The trouble is that most people do not see what happens at training stables and who’s going to monitor whipping there? A couple of years ago, I heard from a credible witness who had been employed in a racing stable that the trainer would take the losing horses into a shed, close the door and whip them to make them terrified of the whip. I would hope this sort of barbarism is not common, but how would we know? 
After all, these horses have been described by some reporters as “machines” . 
Says it all, really, doesn’t it? 

A.A. Hodges

Camel Novelty

August 2018
The idea of a camel race as some kind of novelty to bring back spectators is shameful (The Advertiser, 16/8/18). 
It betrays total ignorance of the nature of the camel. These peaceful creatures have been used by man to travel long distances in the desert at a leisurely pace. 
Camels have pads on their feet which are highly sensitive. 
They are easily intimidated. Despite what may happen elsewhere, they are unsuited to racing. 

Charlotte Rischbieth

"Winx the wonder"

August 2018

Yes, “Winx has done it again, won more races than “Black Caviar”, but of course, this is never enough. The description of her as a” winning machine” says it all, really. This beautiful mare is not a pet animal, capable of feeling pain, fear and loss, she is an investment and even $20 million dollars plus in winnings is not enough. Now it will be another go at the Cox Plate. Then once she leaves the track, no more treats like paddles at the beach. She will leave the stable and people she knows, the other horses she knows, and it will be off to be a brood mare, producing a foal every year. The dubious joy of a highly interventionist mating, or maybe even artificial insemination, will be her lot. “Black Caviar” is about to have her fifth foal and I wonder how her dam “Helsing” and even “Makybe Diva” are going ? I also wonder why “Winx’s” sire, “Street Car” is already dead ? Perhaps he went sterile or crazy in a cage-like stable somewhere ?  I’d really like to know.

As a teenager, I decided that going to a race meeting and watching horses being whipped around a track for gambling purposes, was just not my thing. People need to search long and hard into their hearts and souls, and think about the inevitable expendability of these beautiful horses. Not too many get to live out a pampered life, even after winning large amounts of money.

Alex Hodges

Horse racing deaths

August 2018

Perhaps we should call Morphettville by a new name, Deathville, as there have been two horses die there this month.

As well as 'About the Journey’s' death from a fall in a jumps race, the following Saturday 'Survived 'fell in a flats race and had to be euthanised. Racing is no “sport” for horses.

 Alice Shore

Sad "Sport"

August 2018

Two racehorses killed at Morphettville and three in Victoria in the past two weeks.

This"sport" treats these animals as mere money making machines.

So wrong and sad.

Alice Shore

About the Journey died

July 2018

THAT valiant gelding called About the Journey died at Morphettville after a fall in a jumps race at Morphettville. It was his 97th race.

He had won many races in SA – he was jumped at Oakbank year after year with increasing heavy weights as he aged. Let’s hope the Racing Minister will stop jumps racing next year when the issue is “reviewed”.


Falling horses

April 2018

Your short review of the Oakbank races in this week's Courier showed photos of happy attendees and jumping horses, but had no mention of the fall of the horse, Nishiazabie. Why omit this.

Instead you showed the horse jumping during the early stages of the race. No doubt, as an aging horse, he fell at the second to last jump because of tiredness. Steeplechasing is not fun for the horses.

Alice Shore

Send them to the knackery

March 2018

If the owners of jumps horses care so much about their beautiful horses and spend thousands of dollars taking care of them. Why then, do they send them to the knackery as soon as they can no longer race fast enough to be profitable? Thousands of race horses are bred each year for one purpose only, and we all know profit comes before welfare, as many of these youngsters do not even get to the track.

Of course the SAJC are correct when they say jumps racing is "spoiling their brand. " Punters are not backing jumps horses because they know the chances are the horse may fall and either damage itself or die on the track. Those hurt, often do not return to racing and we can only guess why.

Oakbank Carnival does not depend on jumps racing to draw a crowd. The" Fashion on the Field" fillies flock there with their handsome partners carrying their picnic baskets and beverages between them, in order to party, in specially designed areas. So many don't even notice the horses, but love the party atmosphere, and children's zones are the icing on the cake.

The Premier is right when he says jumps racing is cruel and dangerous, The horses are forced to race at speed, expected to scale a dozen or more jumps and when they tire, of course, their hooves hit the hurdles, and can clearly be heard by spectators. They are just a hair's breadth away from a fall at every jump.

As far as being  an economic benefit to SA, the Vics bring the majority of  jumps horses and jockeys to participate in jumps events, and take their prize money back home.

Diane Cornelius

Oakbank Jumps Racing

March 2018

Jenny Phillips' compassionate letter highlighted how people are no longer prepared to watch jumps races where magnificent animals needlessly die, just for entertainment and human greed. Oakbank attendances are definitely down, and the "Goumet Gallop" on Sunday, March 18th, run to entice people to the Easter carnival, didn't work.

As Jenny said,"...attitudes have changed .." and people are learning about the horses' fate. Two falls in the last three events held at Oakbak alone. Most suffer painful injuries, over exertion causes exercise induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage, they suffer stomach ulcers due to abnormal feeding schedules and diets, horses normally graze.

They are not designed for jumping hurdles, because of the position of their eyes at the sides of their heads, they have trouble seeing the obstacles in front of them, especially when forced to race at speed. Then there is race length, and the incredible weight their front legs are subjected to, as they land after the jumps. 

When they stop earning prize money they are sent to the knackery. An untimely end for such regal animals.

Diane Cornelius