Each year in November, the Berlin November Horse Racing event is held in the Eastern Cape where hundreds of horses are forced to compete in the unregulated horse racing event.
A team of NSPCA officials, including our attending veterinarian, joined Inspectors from King Williams Town SPCA, East London SPCA and Stutterheim SPCA for the event which was held in the last week of November 2021. State veterinarians were also present during the event.
Over 100 horses were inspected by our teams, the majority of which were thoroughbreds which is a serious concern.
This is another indication of how cruel the racing industry truly is. The use of thoroughbreds in this unregulated event suggests that the horses, once loved by greedy millionaire moguls, would have been auctioned off (at a fraction of the price they were initially bought for) when the horse could no longer perform on regulated horse tracks, such as the Durban July, due to injury, disease, age etc. This then throws these poor animals into the world of ‘bush racing’.
While the Council opposes both regulated and unregulated racing, there is more concern for the animals subjected to unregulated racing events, because there is far less protection for those animals.
The horses would have come from stables where they received specific diets, physiotherapy, specialist veterinary attention etc. to these events where there is no ‘state of the art’ stables, no fancy equipment for comfort, no physiotherapy massages, no specially formulated diet plans, and no drug testing done for the horses. These horses, who were once treated better than most of us human beings, are now discarded like old shoes at a jumble sale.
Thoroughbreds (known to be prone to injury and disease) should certainly not be used in unregulated events.
This unnecessary and unregulated race is held during the wet and rainy seasons of the year. This results in the racetracks becoming extremely slippery, muddy and dangerous for the horses and their riders. Yet another indication of the complete lack of regard for the safety of the animals and even humans by the organisers of this horrible event.
Through the pouring rain, our team remained steadfast in trying to prevent these animals from suffering.
A number of welfare concerns were found including severe whipping of the horses, incorrect transportation practises, incorrect bits, sores in the mouths of the horses, sores from the saddles and the attempted use of underaged or underweight horses. Those who were severely compromised were immediately removed from the race and the owners received formal written warnings. This did not stop some of the participants from attempting to enter the race again using devious methods. As this race is unregulated, these participants cannot be called to a review board for discipline.
The lack of compassion displayed by many of the owners for the event was appalling. To attempt to race compromised animals for financial gain, with no regard for the animal’s suffering, is beyond inhumane!
We are baffled at how this event, which is promoted through official gambling bodies, assists indigent communities.
The National Council of SPCAs calls on the National Horse Racing Authority (NHRA) to follow through with the objectives set out in their own constitution, one of which is, “To promote and maintain the honourable practice and to eliminate malpractice which may arise in thoroughbred horse racing in SOUTHERN AFRICA.” We further call on the NHRA to crack down on owners and trainers who deviate from their ‘end of career/2nd life’ protocols.
The National Council of SPCAs remains opposed to the use of ANY animal used for sports and entertainment, including horse racing.