Animal Defenders of Westchester

lion baby

Home Page
Action Alerts
Event Photos
How Can I Help?
Press Releases
Rodeo and Hunting Fan Mail
ADOW's TV Show
Who We Are
Become a Member
Companion Animal Memorials

We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Racing from Another Perspective: Experts' Statements about Racing by Dr. Tim O’Brien


"I have been investigating animal welfare issues for ten years, and during the last six years I have published a number of reports on the welfare of racehorses. It is my opinion, based on scientific data published by research groups throughout the world, that horse racing and animal suffering are inextricably linked. Horses, which are often raced when less than two years old, endure massively high incidences of stomach ulceration, lung hemorrhaging (even during low-intensity exercise) and bone weakness (sometimes weakening by over forty percent during the course of a race).

"Racehorses are whipped up to 30 times during one race, according to a survey conducted by the non-profit organization Animal Aid. The survey showed that the whip was used even on young horses, during their first race. Horses in a state of total exhaustion and already out of contention were also beaten. The whip was used on the neck and shoulders, as well as the hind quarters. Horses were observed being whipped 20, even 30 times during a race.

"The Jockey Club is responsible for regulating and enforcing the Rules of Racing, but the rules are lacking in clarity and very poorly enforced by Race Stewards. None of the violations observed during the survey period drew a sanction for the offending riders.

"Every year, around 300 racehorses die on British race tracks as a result of fatal falls or serious injuries, most often breaks to the legs, backs, or shoulders; heart attacks; or a drop in performance that makes them commercially non-viable. In addition to the hundreds raced to death, thousands more are killed or abandoned to neglectful or abusive situations every year because they can no longer run fast enough to be profitable.

"Around 5,000 leave racing every year, the same number who enter it. Very few enjoy a decent retirement. Some are shot within weeks of their money-earning days coming to an end. A small number become breeders. Many are slaughtered, their bodies sold to countries like France, where people eat horse meat, or they end up as pet food. Others are exported, or sold from owner to owner in a downward spiral of abuse and neglect. In the U.S., according to an Associated Press article, as many as 7,100 registered thoroughbreds went to slaughter in 1998, the equivalent of 22 percent of the 1998 U.S. thoroughbred foal crop.

"Because of their personal histories and temperament, only a very few retired racehorses make good 'pets'. All retired race horses are very high-maintenance, expensive to maintain, and long-lived. The specter of having to spend many thousands of dollars on them over several decades predisposes them to being abandoned.

"Some have been discovered weak, emaciated, and forgotten. Even champion prize winners, once their racing days are over, have been found in appalling conditions. The 1984 UK Grand National winner Hallo Dandy was found in a field, thin, tired, with scars on his back and his ribs poking through.

"And with (according to UK gambling charity GamCare) around 60,000 people in the UK addicted to gambling on horse races to an extent that compromises their own well-being and that of their families, horse racing is clearly responsible for considerable human as well as animal suffering.

"Horse racing is bad for animals and bad for people. It has no place in an enlightened society."

Dr. Tim O’Brien is an independent animal welfare researcher. Since being awarded his PhD in biological sciences, Dr. O’Brien has been Head of Research at Compassion in World Farming, and a Director of The Genetics Forum. He has advised UK government select committees on dairy farming, and on the use of antibiotics in farming. He has authored reports into factory farming and human health, farm animal genetic engineering, and the links between intensive livestock farming, poverty and the environment, as well as researching the welfare of racehorses.

Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Your comments and inquiries are welcome

This site is hosted and maintained by:
The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting

Since date.gif (991 bytes)