Of Jumps Racing & Bull Fighting

Steeplechase  is a form of horse racing and derives its name from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside.  (Wikipedia)


Updated 22 May 2014.

Frances Nelson and John O’Connor how can you justify the killing of these beautiful horses? Three horses have died already in 2014 jumps racing season. Shame on you. Only Victoria and South Australia still hold jumps races.

Below- Submission to State of Victoria, Members of Parliament, Dec 2008:

‘Jump racing is a form of horse racing generally run over longer distances than flat races and with heavier jockeys. As the name suggests, it requires the horses to jump typically  to  as many as thirty three fixed obstacles. For decades, jump racing has created a major horse welfare concern due to the cruel nature of the sport. This is supported by damning statistics and media exposure that has consistently reported the unacceptable risks to horses through frequent deaths, falls and injuries. It is not surprising that jump racing was described in the Australian media in 1991 as “the most disgusting of animal sports in this part of the world”, and more recently as “horrifically cruel”.  There are two types of jump races: hurdles and steeplechases. Hurdle races are normally run over 3,000 to 3,500 metres over low fences and at a relatively fast speed. Steeplechases are normally longer races run over 3,450 to 5,500 metres over higher fences and at a slower speed.

In 1995 jump racing was banned in NSW. It now only occurs in Victoria and South Australia. As a result of the unacceptably high death rate, falls and injuries, several reviews of jump racing have been conducted in Victoria in recent years. However changes that have been implemented as a result of these reviews have done little to improve safety for the jockey.’


An excerpt springs to mind from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin set in 19th Century Russia:

‘The steeplechase was an unlucky one: more than half the field of seventeen were thrown and hurt. Towards the end of the race everyone was in a state of agitation, intensified by the fact that the Emperor was displeased. Everyone was loudly expressing his disapproval and repeating a phrase someone had uttered “lions and gladiators will be the next thing,” and everyone was feeling horrified…’   Tolstoy describes the agony of the dying horse  as she and her rider stumble on the race track:  “All at once his [the rider’s] position had shifted and he knew that something horrible had happened… Vronsky was touching the ground with one foot and his mare was sinking on that foot. He scarcely had time to free his leg before she fell on one side, gasping painfully and making vain efforts of her slender sweat soaked neck to rise, and began fluttering on the ground at his feet like a wounded bird…had broken her back…Frou- Frou lay breathing heavily before him, bending her head back and gazing at him with her beautiful eyes…again she writhed like a fish, creaking the flaps of the saddle, put out her forelegs, but, unable to lift her back, immediately collapsed and fell on her side again…But she did not stir and, her nose nuzzling the ground, only gazed at her master with her eloquent eyes.’  She was then shot.


Although Anna Karenin is fiction, only a person who has witnessed such an event, could re-tell it with such heartfelt detail.You will never hear this type of description of a horse’s suffering from a jumps racing driver – he would be out of a job!


I really don’t see a great deal of difference in the cruelty of bull fighting and that of horse jumps (hurdles) racing.  Both are spectator sports where frightened animals are forced to do things in the name of human titillation and gambling.  All the power is in the hands of humans. Since this post was written, several more horses have had to be destroyed following falls at jump races!


Yesterday at a jumps racing event in Warrnambool at least six horses ditched their riders to make a run for freedom.  For so many horses to act in unison has to send a message to race organisers.  Horses have had enough.  Who or what gives humans the right to torture animals when we are all creatures on this earth; all special.  Horses are intelligent animals to be respected and allowed to live as nature intended.  Not whipped into jumping fences,  even though they are terrified and panicked; they are aware that they risk life and limbs to make the jumps at speed.

So far in the 2011 jumps racing season three horses have had to be euthanised because they fell during the jumps, breaking their necks and/or legs.  So many horses have died in recent years, that the public outcry has forced changes to hurdles etc.  But the carnage continues.  This event must be banned and there is evidence that opposition to the jumps is growing among the general public.


Another horse dies for spectators in Australia


Bull fighting has been banned in some parts of Spain, but is still a popular spectator sport in others. In 2010 a brave bull  mounted the spectator stands in one arena in Spain, absolutely enraged and terrified after incessant goading with a red cloak.  Needless to say, the bull was killed to protect the previously blood thirsty crowd.  At least this particular bull was saved from a long and torturous death, one with skewers hanging from him and blood pouring from his wounds.


The sickening torture of a bull in a Spanish arena

These glamorised bull fighters are merely animal torturers


The Romans killed hundreds of thousands of wild animals in arenas for public spectacle, driving many species to extinction in certain areas of the globe.  I thought we had moved on from those barbaric days!


See previous post: We Are Creatures Too


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