The lifespan of a gallop horse is often very short

: A racehorse’s life is often very short

by Christian Metacelis

04/27/2023 | 11:09 a.m

Even if in Germany, unlike England, there are hardly any steeplechase races risky: in this country, too, racehorses live dangerously – even when they are retired.

Fast and Dangerous to Animals: England’s Traditional Grand National.Source: Mike Egerton/PA via AP

Recent events at the Grand National in Aintree, England, the most famous hunting race in the world, have once again caused a stir among horse lovers. Three enemy passengers died there during the meeting in mid-April.

Dead horses are bad for work

Since 2000, 62 animals are said to have died in steeplechase competitions. The information comes from animal protection organizations, and the organizers do not keep any statistics. Dead horses are bad for work.

In Germany there are hardly any steeplechase races, but fatal accidents also happen at flat distances. Official figures from Deutscher Gallup are looked for in vain, and here too only animal rights activists provide data: PETA documented 50 deaths on German racetracks between 2015 and 2020. A large number of unreported training accidents are also suspected with fatal consequences.

Horse racing on the track too early?

Dressage horses, on the other hand, do not participate in their first tests until they are about six years old. Alop fans do not see this as a problem and point out that thoroughbreds mature earlier than warm-blooded horses and are specially bred for racing.

“The trainer’s job is to see how far the horses are and how you can press them,” says Cologne trainer Peter Schergen. Not every animal evolves at the same speed:

I never break a horse.

Peter Shergen

The good life in the stable

Anyone who has visited a stable like Schiergens, where last year’s Derby winner Sammarco is stationed, will actually see a great effort to make life as comfortable as possible for the animals within the confines of the race. After all, the owner pays about 2,000 euros per month for the stable and the animal.

Although the animals are kept in individual boxes, they do have daylight. In addition, they are allowed to run out on the paddock from time to time. In addition to training on the track, the animals receive treatments from a chiropractor or acupuncturist and specially formulated food.

In the 2023 Grand National steeplechase, demonstrators were confined to the racecourse.Source: Mike Egerton/PA via AP

When they stop racing, the best in Thoroughbred breeding gets sold. However, only a few are suitable for this, and about 1,000 horses leave the racing stables each year.

Recruitment of retired racehorses

What about the rest? Here, too, there is no transparency, as the official statistics for horses end up dropping out of the race or possibly entering into breeding.

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What is known is that some racers have been successfully retrained, for example as racehorses, but most are likely to be placed as riding horses. If they are lucky, they will end up with an experienced owner who has the time and patience for a horse that knows little and must get used to its new life.

on the site rennpferde-rente.dea private initiative, there are nearly 300 reports, some very influential.

Some horses end up at the slaughterhouse

However, there are also animals that are unlucky and are sold first by one intrusive owner to another – and eventually end up in the slaughterhouse.

In England two years ago, a BBC report spoke of 4,000 racehorses slaughtered in Great Britain and Ireland between 2019 and 2021.

Since there are far fewer runners in Germany than in the British Isles, the numbers in this country should be correspondingly lower. official data? Again, nothing.

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