League Against Cruel Sports campaign to make horse racing safer on the eve of Cheltenham Festival

With less than 24 hours to go before the biggest event of the jump race calendar kicks off, not everybody is excited for the four day event.

League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) held an information event on Cheltenham High Street today. This was a peaceful campaign where volunteers of the organisation were handing out leaflets to raise awareness of the welfare issues surrounding horse racing.

ParkLife Sport spoke to Karen Poppy about the dangers of the sport and why she chooses to support LACS.

“I’m here today because I believe in all the principles that League Against Cruel Sports supports and stands for.

“I used to care for a horse and ride a horse and I always wondered what it felt like for that horse having someone on their back, having the saddle on their back tight, with the girth tight, the bit in their mouth, how does that feel for them as they’re always moving it around. It can’t be comfortable.”

“And then you step that up to horse racing and add things like excessive training, you add whipping the horse,  you add jockeys on and off the horse, you add high jumps here in Cheltenham.

“You add the stress of them having to race against each other, in nature they would be running around and they could pull off at any time if they don’t want to continue running at that speed but they are pushed to the extremes,” Karen added.

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“In training what happens to their bones is because they train so hard, they get little hairline fractures and when they come to a race they’re pushed beyond their limits and what happens is those weak fractures then get a lot of force put on them over the jumps and that’s what causes legs to break.

“They get pushed beyond their natural boundaries and what is it all for? Entertainment and money? That’s why these horses suffer. And people say they do it in nature anyway and yes they do run around in nature but they wouldn’t be forced to do it. A lot of people say if they didn’t like it they wouldn’t do it but what choice have they got? They’re beaten and whipped and forced to do these things which they wouldn’t chose to do.

“And what you find happens is if one loses a rider they might carry on with the rest of them because in nature they are herd animals and they run around together but you’ll often find that they peel off or they refuse a jump. Why do they refuse a jump? A horse’s eyes see either side of their face so when they come up to a jump they don’t see it and they can’t judge it. And if they’re coming in wrong, they think ‘I’m not going to make it’. They can stop, they can clip the top of it, they can fall over, the jockey comes off, they break a leg.”

“Think about racing in those sort of terms and you start to see the ugly side of it.”

-Karen Poppy, League Against Cruel Sports

“200 horses a year die because of horse racing and if you say you love animals then you’re hypocritical because it doesn’t go together. So that’s why I’m here today to highlight the fact this isn’t a kind sport, it is a cruel sport.” Karen finalised.

Gravestone with all the horses names who have died at Cheltenham Festival between 2010-2017

The organisation are planning a bigger demonstration on Friday where they plan to protest against horse racing. It will take place at 11.30am outside Marks and Spencers on the High Street.

For further information League Against Cruel Sport have a very good leaflet and website which will tell you all about it.

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