Horse races aren’t just dangerous for horses—they can hurt people too. Seven people, including a 2-year-old girl, were taken to the hospital after a terrified horse leaped over an 8-foot fence and into a crowd of spectators at the Grand Annual Steeple race in Warrnambool, Australia. Banna Strand’s rider fell off in a dangerous pile-up during the first lap of the race, and the horse jumped over the wrong fence, landing in a crowd of about 50 people. Witnesses said the panicked horse continued to run, making almost a complete lap around the course before being caught.
Steeplechase racing was suspended in Victoria (one of only two Australian states where it is still legal) in 2009 after three horses died in two days at Warrnambool. Animal protectionists had asked Warrnambool to call off this year’s series of races after a horse died two days prior to the Banna Strand incident, “but they let it continue and the public paid the price,” said Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses spokesman Ward Young.
Horses routinely suffer serious and even lethal injuries in U.S. races too. During Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, Archarcharch was pulled up after incurring a career-ending leg fracture, Comma to the Top chipped a bone in his left front ankle, and Pants on Fire suffered internal bleeding.
You can help prevent these and other racehorses from ending up in the hands of slaughterhouse buyers at the end of their short careers by supporting PETA’s Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle Retirement Fund.
Written by Michelle Sherrow