Today’s the Melbourne Cup race day. In the state of Victoria we get a public holiday. It almost feels like our Victorian duty to watch the races.
It used to be one of my favourite days of the year, but nowadays I have much more mixed feelings about it. I love horses, particularly Thoroughbreds, and for several years studied TB pedigrees, attended race events, and even went to the racing industry careers expo they ran for high school students – I was keen on finding out if I could obtain a career in the equine industries (when I was much younger). On weekends I attended a horseriding school with the hopes of improving my skills in relation to riding. I say this to give context: I’m very much sympathetic to the love of watching the Thoroughbreds fly across the turf. They’re truly beautiful animals, absolute marvels of nature and selective breeding.
The more I’ve learned, though, the more I’ve found myself concerned by the animal welfare issues surrounding the sport. I acknowledge that by and large the people in the racing industry do care about their animals and look after them well. Sadly, though, when horses are retired from racing many of them don’t have the good fortune to be re-homed with experienced equestrians who can retrain them and care for them. So, as you marvel at German colt Protectionist‘s several lengths win of the big race today, spare a thought for the Aussie racehorses that aren’t so lucky. (This link will take you to an animal welfare group that is lobbying for better welfare conditions for Australian racehorses.)