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Two young Nokota mares. Image: Wikipedia.
The slaughter of horses bred for racing in Australia, as revealed in the ABC's investigation, highlights the challenge of what to do with racehorses when their careers are over.
ABC - Industry - Claim - % - Horses
The ABC has questioned the racing industry's claim that fewer than 1% of horses retiring from racing each year end up at an abattoir or knackery.
Once horses leave racing they are no longer under the industry's control, and the fate of retired horses is not currently tracked. A 2008 study of horses entering an abattoir reported that 40% were thoroughbreds, the breed used in racing.
Things - Industry - Life - Racehorse - Home
But there are things the industry can do to extend the life of a racehorse, and help find a suitable home once their racing career is over.
thoroughbred horses have been bred over centuries for speed and stamina. This allows them to do one thing better than any other members of their species: run.
Speed - Durability - Ability - Rigours - Training
Just as they can be bred for speed, they can also be bred for racing durability – the ability to withstand the rigours of training and racing.
If we come to value durability as much as other performance traits we can reward breeders who select for long racing careers alongside other attributes.
Durability - Shift - Emphasis - Horse - Year
Valuing durability requires a shift from the current emphasis on finding the latest and greatest young horse each year for events such as the Golden Slipper (for two-year-olds), the Gold Coast Magic Millions (for two-year-olds), and The Oaks (for three-year-old fillies).
Australia is a leading producer of two-year-old racehorses, and there are rich rewards for the breeders of the next star of the track.
Industry - Prizes - Place - Chiefly - Olds
If the industry were to put the major prizes in place chiefly for the fastest eight-, nine- or ten-year olds, we could see a dramatic drop in wastage – the term used to describe the attrition of thoroughbreds from...
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