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Horses

Horses have been important to human history, serving as companions, workers, and transportation providers. Some horses today are used for leisure and sport, while others are farmed for meat, hides and hair. Sanctuaries like Where Pigs Fly offer rescued horses a loving and nurturing environment where they can live out their natural lives, free from stress and suffering. Sadly, they are the lucky few.

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Featured Rescue Stories

Daffodil
Stories from the field
Daffodil
Daffodil is a pony rescued from severe neglect, who needed a healing home.
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Sparks
Stories from the field
Sparks
Sparks is a horse rescued from years of horrific suffering and neglect.
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Mr Jones
Stories from the field
Mr Jones
Mr Jones is a blind horse who was rescued from terrible neglect.
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Horse Facts

Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal, allowing them a nearly 360-degree field of vision.

Horses can sleep standing up or lying down thanks to a special stay apparatus. The stay apparatus is a group of ligaments, tendons and muscles which “lock” major joints in the limbs of the horse. It is best known as the mechanism by which horses can enter a light sleep while still standing up.

Horses have an excellent memory and can remember places, people and other animals for years.

There are over 350 breeds of horses and ponies, each with unique characteristics and abilities.

"The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom."

- Sharon Ralls Lemon
Author of the Ultimate Horse Book

Sanctuary life

For the lucky horses and ponies here at our sanctuary, their life is a happy and free one, with access to large spacious paddocks and plenty of room to graze and play with their friends and receive the care and attention they need to thrive.

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

- Winston Churchill

Suffering for sport and meat

The horse racing and meat industries are no different to any other animal industry. They value animals based on financial ‘return’. The interests of horses come second to profits, with practices like whipping and drugging used in the racing industry and the cramped living conditions and long transport used in the meat industry.

Horses used for racing

The racing business
The drive for financial and personal success and glory is about return for trainers and owners — not the horses. At best, horses lead an unnatural and restricted life whilst racing, and at worst end up as ‘wastage’ in an industry that has no more use for them.
Living conditions
Racehorses may live in small stalls with limited socialisation or grazing opportunities, leading to stress and the development of stereotypic behaviours.
Drugging and doping
The use of drugs and other performance-enhancing substances is a widespread issue in the horse racing industry. These substances are often administered to mask pain and push horses beyond their natural limits. This can lead to a greater risk of injury and long-term health issues.
Whipping and abuse
Whipping is still a common practice in horse racing to encourage the animals to run faster. The force and frequency of the whipping can cause pain and distress and can result in welts and open wounds.
Breakdowns and fatalities
The pressure to perform often leads to catastrophic injuries during races, with some horses euthanised due to the severity of the damage and poor prognosis for recovery.
Discarding 'unprofitable' horses
Not every horse bred for racing will be successful on the track. Many horses are deemed ‘unprofitable’ due to injury, lack of success, or simply not being fast enough. These horses are often discarded by the racing industry, some may be rehomed, but the majority face an uncertain future.
Horse6
Where do they go?

Many failed or older racehorses will be destined for slaughter and may go to local knackeries to be used for pet meat or be transported to Australia’s two export slaughterhouses in SA and QLD. Approximately 2,000 tonnes of horse meat are exported from Australia for human consumption in Japan and Europe annually (ABS figures).

Over 25,000 horses are killed in this way in Australia each year.

It is difficult to estimate the portion of those horses slaughtered that are from the racing industries. However, given the large number of foals born for racing each year, the high attrition rate in the industry and, the high consistency of the number of horses in the racing and breeding sectors of the industry, that portion is likely to be significant.

Horses used for meat

A living nightmare
Horses raised for meat are often kept in cramped and unsanitary conditions, leading to stress and disease. To maximize profits, these horses are typically slaughtered when they are still young, around 1 to 2 years old.
Transport and slaughter

Transporting horses to slaughter can be a long and stressful process. The animals are often loaded onto trucks without proper care, resulting in injuries and stress. Many horses experience dehydration, exhaustion, and even death during transportation.

At the slaughterhouse, horses are usually herded into a holding pen before being led to the kill floor. The stunning process, which should render the horse unconscious, can be ineffective, causing the animal to experience pain and terror. Once stunned, the horse’s throat is slit, and it is left to bleed out.

A delicacy

In Australia, horse meat is not widely consumed, but it is still produced for export to countries where it is considered a delicacy.

Make your choices count

Make your choices count

Never bet on cruelty yourself. And if you have friends, colleagues or family members who go to the races, please share this page with them. It will enable them to make an informed choice as to whether they want to continue to support this industry.