Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Horses for courses? Two deaths after one race raise big questions

I don't have photos of racehorses...

Its impossible to ignore the discussion in the media about yesterday's Melbourne Cup.

As everyone recovers from the “race that stops a nation” (incidentally, possibly the most productive afternoon of the week for those who remained at work, without the distractions of emails or phone calls), the headlines speak of a darker side to the race: the cost that animals pay for our entertainment.

Its always good to discuss and review our attitudes toward animal welfare and ethics.

Two horses died – one immediately following the race and the other following a fracture.

The post-mortem findings were discussed this morning (see article here). Human athletes can die by similar means, but they have a say in the risks they take.

There are some related ethical issues. As I don't work with horses (often) I'm going to leave the discussion to two esteemed colleagues whose views I endorse. Professor Paul McGreevy and Dr Phil McManus, both from the Human Animal Research Network, have provided some interesting data and discussion about the use of the whip in horse racing both here and here.