Thursday, 15 March 2012

More Horses Die for Entertainment (and Money)

The Cheltenham Festival is in full swing and a jolly time is being had by all except, unfortunately, the horses five of whom have been killed already this year.

This story from the Guardian.........

The RSPCA has described itself as "very concerned and upset" by the deaths of five racehorses during the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival. In a statement issued on Thursday morning, its equine consultant, David Muir, said the deaths showed "the unacceptable face of horse racing", while another RSPCA spokesman expressed continuing concern about whip use by jockeys.

"Any death on any racecourse simply cannot be justified," Muir said.

"The RSPCA is here at the Festival to ensure that, if any lessons can be learned from these deaths, we will lobby the British Horse-racing Authority for changes to save horses in the future. We are also here to ensure that, when horses are injured, they received immediate veterinary care."

Scotsirish, Garde Champetre and Featherbed Lane fractured legs while running between obstacles, while Abergavenny and Educated Evans broke legs when falling. All five were euthanised and there has been no suggestion so far that the treatment they received was in any way less than adequate.

The racing surface at the Festival has been faster than usual, following months of freakishly dry weather. However, officials insist the course is safe and point to the fact that millions of gallons of water have been poured on to it in recent weeks.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the BHA responded to the deaths by saying it would consider all related evidence as part of its continuing mission to minimise danger. "Like most competitive sports, racing carries risk," said its spokesman, Robin Mounsey.

"No one wants to see valuable and valued racehorses injured, so it is regrettable that several horses have now suffered accidents where the injury was not treatable and consequently euthanasia was the appropriate course of action.

"As with every equine injury or fatality, detailed data will be collected by the BHA, examining the type of injury in question and the context in which it took place. This is routine for the BHA and shows how, as an independent regulator, the BHA works with racecourses to manage and reduce risk where possible, making rational and measured decisions based on racecourse data."

On the subject of the whip, the RSPCA noted that five jockeys have so far been punished for excessive or incorrect use during the Festival. The rules in this area, which had been stringent to the point of causing great controversy since October, were relaxed last week.

Gavin Grant, the RSPCA's chief executive, said: "We welcome punishment for excessive use of the whip and will be examining if the level of penalty at the Cheltenham Festival is sufficient."

More than £500 million will be staked on 24 races. Punters will consume 20,000 bottles of champagne, 30,000 bottles of wine, and 225,000 pints of Guinness.

And this from Venerable Ledi Sayādaw from a talk on intoxicants and gambling.....

Buddhists are peace-loving and non-violent. As the Sayādaw points out, one makes bad kamma in four ways: doing it oneself, urging others to do it, approving of it, or speaking in praise of it. Cruel sports such as fox-hunting, bull-fighting, and game-shooting are totally unacceptable to Buddhists. They should all be made illegal, since they involve gross and needless cruelty to animals.

Horse-racing is less cruel, but it should be more strictly regulated to reduce injury and cruelty. Whips could be banned, and the height of fences could be reduced, to reduce the danger to the horses. Wild horses run flat-out only to avoid death from predators.

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