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Frequently asked questions

How can you justify the claim that in British Racing, the Horse comes first?

British Racing is among the world's best regulated animal activities. The 14,000 horses registered in training at any one time enjoy a quality of life virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal. British Racing employs over 6,000 people to provide constant care and attention for these horses.

How much money has British Racing invested in veterinary research?

British Racing is committed to providing the best possible standards of veterinary care for its horses and has invested, via the Horserace Betting Levy Board, over £32 million since 2000 in Veterinary Research and Education. The sport's substantial investment in Veterinary Research and Education brings benefits for all breeds of horse in Britain.

What happens to racehorses after they retire from the sport?

An increasing number of racehorses go on to successful second careers after retiring from the track. There are currently over 11,500 horses registered with Retraining of Racehorses (British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of former racehorses) as active in other equine disciplines outside of racing, including Polo, Showing, Dressage and Eventing, as well as those horses happily engaged in hacking and exercising.

Who is responsible for the welfare of Horses in Britain?

The British Horseracing Authority is the Government recognised body responsible for the regulation of horseracing and continues to work to further minimise risk for racehorses. High standards of horse welfare are demanded of all racecourses. None of the 1,400+ fixtures held annually in Britain can take place unless key BHA welfare criteria have been satisfied.

How dangerous is British Horseracing?

British Racing is open and transparent about the risks involved. Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury. In recent years the average number of runners per annum is in excess of 90,000. Within the last 20 years, the equine fatality rate in British Racing has fallen by one-third (from 0.3% to 0.2% of runners).

A study by Liverpool University found that 62% of “traumatic injuries” (ranging from grazes to fractures) suffered by a sample of leisure and competition horses occurred when turned out in the field, compared to only 13% during ridden exercise. The British Horse Society also estimates that there are over 3,000 road accidents annually involving horses.

How important is British Racing to the economy?

Deloitte's report on the Economic Impact of British Racing 2013 determined that the industry is worth £3.45bn to the economy. British Racing directly employs 20,000 people. It is the country’s second largest sporting employer (behind football) and the country’s second largest rural employer (behind farming). British Racing supports 58 Racecourses all around the country many of which are important hubs in their local communities. British Racing indirectly supports 80,000 jobs in related professions from Veterinarians to Farriers and much of the British Betting Industry.

Are there examples of animal cruelty by people involved in British Racing?

No form of cruelty is tolerated in British Racing where the sport's welfare standards far exceed existing animal welfare legislation. The standards required of all participants in British Racing are set at a level whereby individuals will be punished if found not to have acted in the best interests of the welfare of a horse. Racing's firm stance on this remains unchanged against a backdrop of a 185% increase in animal cruelty convictions against equines outside of racing in the past three years. 

Is it ethical to use horses in sport for our entertainment?

Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, says:

"World Horse Welfare does not accept the claim that horses are unwilling participants in sport. Horses bred to compete will rise to the challenge, as anyone who has ever taken part in equestrian sport knows. This notion that sport is bad for horses needs to be challenged – and challenged forcefully.  Yes, sport horses are well cared for, but that is no more than one should expect. However, the sheer amount of investment that flows into the horse industry and the resulting research that is conducted on horse health and welfare has done an enormous amount for horses everywhere."

To view Roly’s full response, visit: 

https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/articles/it-ethical-use-horses-sport-our-entertainment