The NSPCA monitored the “Race the Wild Coast” endurance race in the Eastern Cape. This race is described to be the wildest adventure horse race in the world and spans 350kms over a 4 day period. 14 international riders took part in this year’s race.
Four horses had to be disqualified due to injuries sustained during the race. The race organisers had employed 6 veterinarians, not all of whom had equine experience. There were concerns surrounding the conduct of some of the veterinarians which may have impacted on their ability to thoroughly examine the animals.
The terrain was also inaccessible by vehicles and the only way to assess the conditions would be by helicopter however, any lameness or welfare issues would be difficult to see from the air. This made instant intervention impossible and the only time that the horses could be properly assessed by anyone was at the various veterinary check stations.
Other concerns included inexperienced riders who were unfamiliar with the tack provided, some of the riders lacked compassion when handling the horses, late start and late finish resulting in night racing on unfamiliar and dangerous terrain placing the horses and the riders at risk of injury, and the route included 6 large river crossings and some riders were not competent to swim the horses.
The NSPCA Inspectors had to intervene on a number of occasions to ensure that the horses’ welfare was a priority and that these animals did not suffer in the name of sport and entertainment. A gruelling task in less than desirable conditions but without this intervention animals would have suffered.
We find the exploitation of animals for entertainment and financial gain completely unacceptable, particularly when the animals’ welfare is compromised and in conclusion find that this race is unnecessary, offering no value to the animals and simply should not happen.