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400 Horses Killed Each Month Due to COVID Lockdown
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   17th May 2020   •   469 views   •   1 comments
On 26 March 2020, South Africa entered a full nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve of infections. As of 1 May, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a phased reopening of the economy, listing the initial full lockdown as level 5, and moving the country into a slightly less restrictive level 4. This did not bring much change for the majority of South Africans, besides the ability to exercise within 5km of their home between 6AM and 9AM. Some industries such as mining and agriculture were allowed to resume, but unfortunately, despite great effort on their part, the SA Horseracing industry was not included.

The elongated shutdown of racing brings with it many great consequences, many of which are already beginning to show as owners, breeders and trainers alike are forced to begin euthanasia of horses they can no longer afford to keep. On 5 May, Vee Moodley, Chief Executive of the NHA (National Horseracing Authority) issued a press release stating that the government had refused the NHA’s proposal to resume horseracing under new Covid-19 regulations, with no spectators allowed entry, and races being run with only essential ‘skeleton staff’, a maximum number of 65 people. While Covid-19 regulations do not allow any gatherings of 50 or more people, racing administrator Hazel Kayiya pointed out to Newzroom Afrika in the video below that due to the extremely large area of the racecourse, these people will never be all in the same location at the same time, and social distancing along with all Covid-19 protocols are strictly adhered to by everyone in the industry.



Thus far the NHA’s efforts have still proven unsuccessful, and in the course of the last week the financial and emotional impact of the extended lockdown began to be heavily felt. On 7 May, Moodley released a further press report warning:

“horse racing calamity on the horizon if corona lockdown continues”

The report revealed some chilling statistics, including the loss of 60,0000 jobs, amounting to upwards of 750,000 people suddenly facing poverty. Moodley pointed out that SA horseracing is a huge contributor to the South African economy, bringing in R2.9 billion (approximately 158 million USD) per year, and ranking the “8th most important horseracing market out of 65 countries”. Besides the loss of R30 million monthly in stakes supporting the income of trainers, grooms and jockeys alike, the lockdown has also led to a 20% increase in the number of horses being euthanized – a chilling 300-400 lives lost every single month. This number is expected to rise by 50% per month if the racing shutdown continues. “The most vulnerable group that has been most affected by this Lockdown are breeders who breed horses for racing, which is the most labour-intensive part of the industry were some 12 are created for each R1 million expended. If there is no racing, there is no demand for the horse and therefore no money accruing to breeders,” explains Racing Administrator Hazel Kayiya, as quoted by Moodley.

This sad circumstance was confirmed by the complete dispersal sale announced to Sportingpost by legendary South African breeders, Summerhill Stud, on 12 May 2020. “Those who’ve known Summerhill for the past 40 years, will know how painful it is to be parting with our horses.” Summerhill Stud announced, “They have been the mainstay of our lives and the farm was built on their backs. But the time has come, and the timing couldn’t have been less opportune”.
The article goes on to explain that while the stud is not giving the horses away, any offer, even of a good home, will be considered. Horses for sale include broodmares from many legendary bloodlines such as Galileo, Giant’s Causeway, and Mastercraftsman, as well as foals and yearlings. Summerhill finish their announcement by saying that “there will obviously be horses unsold, and we will be looking to place those as best we can. Our history reminds us that among those, there will still be “gold dust””. One can only imagine the painful situation that will face the breeders when met with the tragic inevitability that some horses may not find homes at all.

See the sale catalog of horses @ https://www.summerhill.co.za/

John Freeman, CEO of Freeman Stallions, confirmed to Times Live that many of his acquaintances had already been forced to euthanize horses. Freeman said he had been called by acquaintances who have had to put down their horses. “It’s made me cry. I’m sure all the industries are struggling, but they are not forced to take lives. It’s the taking of lives that we are really concerned about”, said Freeman.

Breeders are not the only ones facing these difficult decisions. As top South African Trainer, Mike de Kock told Horse Racing Planet, “We can expect – I know it’s a very, very ugly word but we can expect mass euthanasias. We don’t know where to give the horses away – the ‘second-home’ market has virtually died. The grim reality is euthanasia and the grim reality is mass job reductions.” This is an unfortunate reality. South Africa is already a poverty-stricken nation, and the number of people who could afford to keep a horse – even a free one – is extremely small; now made even smaller by the loss of income caused by Covid-19. The sad and harsh reality is that with issues like neglect and cruel illegal bush racing, euthanasia could well be the kindest fate for many of these horses.

In the video below, lifelong trainer Michael Azzie outlines the heartbreaking reality that trainers are having to face.

“It’s got to the point where certain clients are saying, ‘I’ll pay you up to the end of this month and after the end of this month, the horse is yours,’ now I’m faced with a dilemma[...] I cannot continually be left with more and more horses of clients and have to feed them because I can only feed so many horses and I can only feed so many horses for so long.”

“It’s going to get to a point where I cannot feed those horses any longer. So now what do I do with those horses? Do I put those horses down? I don’t want to be putting horses down and feeding them to the lion park. I love these animals. These horses have been my livelihood for my whole life. Every time I have to put a horse down it destroys me, it shatters me.”


If this mass loss of equine life is something you care about, you can join over 20,000 people in signing the petition @ http://chng.it/Xbvx9r5jFt that was put forward by Snaith Racing to allow the cautious and sensible reopening of the industry, saving the jobs of thousands of people, and the lives of thousands of horses.

--
Sources: https://www.timeslive.co.za/, https://www.sportingpost.co.za/, https://www.nhra.co.za/, https://www.nhra.co.za/, https://horseracingplanet.com/
Horse News More PB Articles About:  COVID,
Horse News More In This Category:  Equine Disease and Prevention      Horse News More From This Author:  Polo the Weirdo
Winniefield Park  
This is indeed heartbreaking and an eventuality difficult to prepare for.
  May 22, 2020  •  550 views
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