The death of four horses on the same race day in Scotland is making headlines. It comes as the Australian horse racing death toll has risen by 18 percent in three years.
Horse racing is a source of entertainment to punters around the world and has the power to bring nations to a halt during events such as the Melbourne Cup and the Grand National.
However, as demonstrated by the deaths of four horses in a single day at Scotland’s Musselburgh race course on Wednesday, there is a darker side to the sport.
These kinds of occurrences with so many horses dying on the same day are incredibly rare, Musselborough’s racecourse organiser Bill Farnsworth told the BBC.
“All the deaths are unrelated and I think it is just one of those perfect storm situations,” he said.
These kinds of deaths are not limited to Scotland however, the sport of horse racing claims the lives of hundreds of animals year on year.
In Australia, one race horse dies every three days.
In 2017, 137 race horses died mostly from injuries to their front limbs, according to The Coalition For The Protection Of Racehorses’ (CPRH) Deathwatch Report 2018.
Two years earlier there were 116 deaths.
A huge part of the reason horses are injured and killed is due to whips being used on the animals, Elio Celotto, the campaign director for Coalition For The Protection of Racehorses told 10 daily.
“This (the whip) forces horses to run through the pain barrier. So if they are feeling something might be going wrong they’ve got a whip on their back, so they’ve no other option but to run on adrenaline.”
Another element of risk for the horses according to Celotto is the period of recovery time given to the horses between races.
He said the animals aren’t given enough time to recover from the rigors of racing and without the appropriate amount of rest they become far more susceptible to injury.
These horses will still sustain wounds throughout their careers even if they are lucky enough not to suffer serious injuries on the track.
Around 90 percent of race horses suffer from exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (EIPH) according to the Veterinary Manual, a study written by professors at Kansas State University.
In Lehman’s terms, the horses are bleeding from their lungs.
Celotto says this is down to pushing the horses too hard.
“Bleeding in the lungs is a direct result of over-exertion, that’s just absolute proof of how hard these horses are being pushed.”
(Feature Image AAP)