A sure bet as Canberra activists make presence felt

Michael Weaver 6 November 2019 52

Activists from the Anti-Speciesist Action Collective at Thoroughbred Park earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

A Canberra-based animal rights group says there is one sure bet for today’s Melbourne Cup: animals involved will suffer at the expense of humans.

Chris Sutevski from the Anti-Speciesist Action Collective told Region Media they will be protesting at Thoroughbred Park in Canberra today, joining groups all across Australia calling for a ban on horse racing.

They will also join activists from Animal Liberation ACT, Vegan ACT and the Animal Justice Party ACT.

Mr Sutevski said they have been buoyed by the attention cruelty in the horse racing industry has been getting in recent weeks, which aligns with their goal of educating the public about animal welfare.

“We’ll be out the front at Thoroughbred Park protesting as people walk in,” Mr Suvetski said. “We aim to challenge speciesism in all its forms through direct action, by elevating and empowering activists and encouraging individuals to become activists.

“We’ll have a petition and a bunch of information about animals being used for entertainment here in the ACT and surrounds. We’ll also be asking people to sign a petition to ban horse racing in the ACT,” Mr Sutevski said.

He said the ACT has been a national leader in progressive animal welfare laws for animals used in entertainment, banning rodeos and exotic animal use in circuses under the Animal Welfare Act 1992, and greyhound racing and trialling in the ACT under the Domestic Animals (Racing Greyhounds) Amendment Act 2017 on 30 April 2018.

While Mr Sutevski concedes that there are a lot of people in the horse racing industry who care deeply about the animals, he said they oppose the racing and exploitation of a fellow sentient being on moral grounds.

“We’re aligned with the Animal Justice Party’s policy of there being a phasing out of horse racing similar to what happened with greyhound racing,” Mr Sutevski said.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see people suffer financially, but we also recognise that the horses are the important factor here. They’re the individuals we’re fighting for here and they’re the individual whose welfare is most at stake here.

“It’s similar in farming where people in those industries have blinders on because they have a vested interest. We acknowledge that, and we don’t think that people who race horses or are in that industry are inherently evil. They are just part of a larger system that pushes them in that direction through either traditions or culture.”

Mr Sutevski is sympathetic with jockeys and trainers whom he says are just doing their jobs.

“We’re not out to attack people. We’re just there to try and educate and show the perspective of the non-human animals. The people in the horse racing industry aren’t the victims here,” he said.

Animal rights activists outside the Bungendore rodeo last Sunday

Animal rights activists outside the Bungendore rodeo last Sunday. Photo: Gareth Tudor

The Anti-Speciesist Action Collective also made its presence felt at the Bungendore Rodeo on Sunday.

A small group of about a dozen protesters stood outside in the rain to make their opposition to the event known.

“The Bungendore Rodeo, like all rodeo events, is a display of violence and callousness,” the group said in a statement.

“To see the fear in the eyes of the animals, most of them less than a year old, is to be reminded of the human capacity for cruelty.

“Their performative cruelty in the name of ‘entertainment’ is a sad reflection of broader so-called ‘Australian’ attitudes towards non-humans. The images ensure that the suffering of the unfortunate souls abused for entertainment does not go unnoticed.”


Action from last Sunday’s rodeo at Bungendore that animal activists say should be banned. Photo: Gareth Tudor

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52 Responses to A sure bet as Canberra activists make presence felt
John Moulis John Moulis 4:23 pm 06 Nov 19

I was into the whole rodeo/cowboy thing in the 1980s and wrote letters to The Chronicle defending it when the first calls for a ban were made. Nowadays I’m a bit ambivalent towards it. I like the music but not the accouterments such as rodeo riding which was introduced to the US by illegal Hispanic farm workers in the South of the US. Rodeo, Vaqueras, rancheras and other words pertaining to the culture are Spanish and became part of the US lexicon.

As far as the Melbourne Cup is concerned I avoided it because it is repetitious and boring. I almost vomited when I saw the ads for A Current Affair featuring rich drunks cavorting around Flemington. Ratings for The Cup were down dramatically and so were attendees and people gambling on it. We’ve all moved on and the Melbourne Cup should be relegated to the pages of history. No more please.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:04 am 06 Nov 19

The first step is to take the sporting status away from horse racing. It’s a big-business now and being a “sport” it gets entitlements to subsidies and concessions that are not really applicable.

Noelle Waugh Noelle Waugh 7:55 am 06 Nov 19

Glad to see people sticking up for the horses 🐎 they don’t deserve to be bred and mistreated for humans to make money. I’m happy the cruelty has been exposed to the general public. Exploitation of animals needs to stop.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:26 am 06 Nov 19

Are they planning to demonstrate in Garema Place about the plight of the horses on the merry-go-round?

Hamish Lardi Hamish Lardi 6:37 am 06 Nov 19

Cheers for the great photo last year guys

Laura Frame Laura Frame 11:28 pm 05 Nov 19

And they were right, again.

Archie Mac Archie Mac 10:25 pm 05 Nov 19

I noticed 6 protesters- at least they were polite

Tim Baker Tim Baker 9:52 pm 05 Nov 19

You are worried about race horses. What about the hundreds if not thousands of horses starving to death because of the drought and the pathetic effort of the government to help our farmers. Maybe you should concentrate your efforts there.

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 10:00 pm 05 Nov 19

    If there was any justice these farmers would all be facing animal cruelty charges for neglecting animals in their care but everyone is too busy listening to their "woe is me" routine. As though they aren't already getting handout after handout, sitting on millions of dollars in assets (including billions in the farm deposit scheme!), or part of an industry which throws enormous resources at advertising yet can't seem to help out when they are needed?

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:06 pm 05 Nov 19

    Tim Baker I see a theme in Paprika’s message. She has obviously never seen a real animal so is out to show her lack of knowledge.

    Laura Frame Laura Frame 11:30 pm 05 Nov 19

    Tim Baker why does everything have to be less important than something else to suit an opinion. Just like... agree or not. People may not agree with your thing as much as theirs. Just, like... be less... this.

Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 9:45 pm 05 Nov 19

Yeah this ex racehorse has suffered real bad. 34 yo and still galloping around like she is 2 yo

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 9:56 pm 05 Nov 19


    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 9:58 pm 05 Nov 19

    there you go - now you can find out what's got everyone so upset.

    Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 10:15 pm 05 Nov 19

    I’m not even going to look at it. I’ve been a horse dentist in this area for 36 years and I know the truth of what happens to a high percentage of the racehorses I have had as patients and it’s all good. There are always a very small percentage of people that don’t treat animals well but it is not the norm but the exception. So don’t put everyone in the bad basket

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 10:20 pm 05 Nov 19

    Relevance? Does one well looked after horse mean they all are? Useless post.

    Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 10:30 pm 05 Nov 19

    In my job I see the horses for there racing career and there after career and yes 95 % I see with a happy home after and great lives the others leave the area so I don’t know about them

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 10:55 pm 05 Nov 19

    No one put you in the bad basket Gary - but you don't want to acknowledge a bad basket exists or know how big it is.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 10:58 pm 05 Nov 19

    Gary Rawlings exactly. It’s commonsense that you would only see one side of this coin. I don’t think there would be many slaughterhouses engaging the services of a horse dentist. No one is saying anything bad about you or you clients. You are the good side of that coin. It’s scary to think what’s happening on the other side, unseen and unheard... except by the neighbours who can hear the screaming at all hours 😞.

    Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 10:59 pm 05 Nov 19

    Rob Thomas I know about the bad basket mate and it’s called life, bad things happen and guys like you sensationalise those very small bad things but don’t acknowledge the greater good things that happen. There are always going to be bad in this world give credit to the good in your posts

    Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 11:13 pm 05 Nov 19

    Chris Cross horses are going to be sent to the slaughter house no matter what we all do. It is how they are treated that is the problem. That video used the fact there were racehorses there to sensationalise what was happening. The main problem was the way the animals were treated before slaughter and the way they were slaughtered. That’s up to the state governments to improve and implement and police. But it’s not ever going to stop horses being slaughtered.

    I don’t agree with it but that’s life, I love and care for all my animals but I’m also a realist.

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 12:28 am 06 Nov 19

    Gary, I've not attacked you. While you make claims against me, and the report that high lighted the issue which you refused to watch.

Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 9:06 pm 05 Nov 19

I’d love to see some of these people standing up for the brumbies. I’m mean racing is bad but gut shooting a horse from a chopper isn’t particularly nice either. Or do we not care because they aren’t race horses?

    Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 9:48 pm 05 Nov 19

    Matt Fordham not high profile enough to make a point.

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:00 pm 05 Nov 19

    Sadly yep.

    I think about half of my clients are Off The Track Tbs or Stbs. All looked after and taken care of.

    Horse welfare should be inclusive of all breeds not just the ones that’s it’s popular to protest about.

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 10:02 pm 05 Nov 19

    They do though. All the orgs listed in the article oppose lethal population control even in the species that people don't like. Your failure to research these groups is not their problem. Sorry to burst your whataboutism bubble though

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:12 pm 05 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith did you see where I wrote it’s an all breed thing or are you too anti racing to realise there are other breeds who need help.

    Come spend a day with me working with horses or volunteer at a rescue to actually meet the animals.

    Sorry that may mean you need to educate yourself though

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 10:12 pm 05 Nov 19


    They did a joint submission specifically opposing the "Reclaim Kosci" campaign, as well as having written submissions for the "Managing invasive species" and "Animal Welfare Act" reviews detailing opposition to lethal population management.

    What are you doing other that trying to poke holes in the efforts of people trying to end animal cruelty?

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:14 pm 05 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith so not out protesting just writing letters... got it.

    I work with horses. I do my bit.

    Sorry I used the word work... that’s actually doing something

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 10:19 pm 05 Nov 19

    yeah i'll just pop a few horses on my balcony shall I? The orgs listed ALSO support animal sanctuaries that take in abandoned, neglected or rescued animals - you know people who care for animals without the expectation that they get to use the animals for their own ends. You want to come join us on a protest or taking direct action? Be our guest. Won't hold my breath though, you'd prefer to keep having horses bred to be exploited - be it racing or any other reason. All these orgs are trying to END all use and abuse of animals - surely something you'd agree with?

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:25 pm 05 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith ah yes. Love your assumptions. I did offer for you to come and meet some horses but you’ll be too busy protesting something you don’t understand.

    What are your definitions of use and abuse?

    I see many Ill treated animals that come good with love. I see far more that have never and will never see abuse. Many are paddock ponies, who do little to no work.

    Animals like horses and dogs enjoy companionship with each other and the frail humans that feed and look after them.

    Perhaps if you spent some time away from the hate you might also see that.

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:28 pm 05 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith or maybe you’ll never see what happens on the coal face of welfare. Protesting and marching is good but actually doing something, donating time and money, maybe raise a sweat to help or simply love on something that may or may not appreciate your efforts.

    Get off your balcony and into the real world

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 10:30 pm 05 Nov 19

    Also they aren't "letters" they are formal submission for legal change to ensure protection for horses (and every other species). I literally do not understand what your issue is - people protesting an industry known for cruelty?

    Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 10:34 pm 05 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith you don’t understand and that’s my entire point.

    Go find a horse and give it a scratch. Maybe a carrot if the owner oks it.

    Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 6:20 am 06 Nov 19

    Matt, as you know, most of us who love horses make their difference everyday. Today I raised money for Recycled Racehorses at our work function. And I spend time every day actually caring for my ex racehorse.

    I’ve attended the brumby challenge and stewarded in brumby classes, showing how cool a breed they are.

    That’s how you make a difference. 😃

Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 8:08 pm 05 Nov 19

Yep, they sure do, this is my ex racehorse who after had the chiropractor out to him this morning, had a huge brush to help his sore muscles, then his lovely hard feed.

Yep, they certainly all suffer. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Oh, then I finished work early so I could lead him around to loosen up.

    Charles Black Charles Black 9:01 pm 05 Nov 19

    Pamela Tomlinson so - yours is indeed one of the lucky ones. Good for you and for your horse. Shame about the others

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 9:02 pm 05 Nov 19

    Your horse is a lucky one to find a caring owner. However if you watched the horrific videos in recent news stories about how some of these magnificent beasts are treated, you'd quickly realise that your self adulation is misplaced here.

    Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 9:47 pm 05 Nov 19

    I’ve been a horse lover longer than I can remember and rode racehorses as a teen. The statistics around racehorse deaths vs normal horse deaths are interesting (my dude almost lost his life to choking on hay earlier this year, luckily he can throw himself on the ground like the worlds best soccer players and survived).

    At a recent clearing sale, 75% of horses to slaughter were not ex racehorses. Does anyone care about the overbred and imperfect ponies, brumbies or station horses etc? No, as it’s not so high profile. It’s not as impactful.

    Will everyone still care about racehorses next month? No. It’s the same every year.

    I will still care though. I will still ask everyone involved in horses to step up and look after ALL horses, not just the easy targets.

    And, I’ve watched the videos. As a horse owner, I had to. I’ve even been to knackeries as part of my equine health training.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 10:42 pm 05 Nov 19

    Pamela Tomlinson but using your own figures quoted, 25% of those horses WERE ex-racehorses going to slaughter. Isn't it better to raise awareness somewhere? Start with something high profile to at least get the ball rolling? Save those 25%? I completely agree there's a lot more happening where there's been no media attention (you mentioned some). But saying that just because those other areas aren't being helped so we shouldn't help these 25% is short sighted imo. I think your heart is in the right place, but the methodology is out of wack. I reckon you try and save what you can... but you seem to be saying don't bother because next month no one will care. (wrong)

    Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 6:23 am 06 Nov 19

    Chris Cross so the other 75% don’t matter? Those poor souls. It broke my heart to see any of those poor animals in the holding yards, knowing their fate that afternoon. If I could have afforded it, I would have taken them all home. If there were only 30 horses, these handful of TB’s may not have been sound or had a suitable temperament to be rehomed. But perhaps some of the other 75% were 🤷🏻‍♀️

    And no, there are so many people on the bandwagon every year for Melbourne Cup that they simple disappear for the next 11 months.

    Matt Fordham’s comments on this thread are ace, instead of holding signs, let’s actually work together to make a difference for all horses! 😃

    Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 7:49 am 06 Nov 19

    Pamela Tomlinson racehorses are treated in a despicable way just to make them racehorses - it’s not normal - you are deflecting from the issue - racehorses are exploited and mistreated to make people money - prime example is you

    Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 7:58 am 06 Nov 19

    Nell Feneck sorry, I didn’t realise you knew me personally....🤷🏻‍♀️🤔

    I wonder when I’ll start making this money from racing, considering I don’t work in the industry and I just spend a ludicrous amount of money caring for an ex racehorse? The riding I did as a teen was for free as I was horse mad and my family couldn’t afford to buy me one. The hugs and kisses those poor horses got though probably drove them mad.

Catherine Shih Catherine Shih 7:48 pm 05 Nov 19

Thank you for standing up for the horses. I am with you.

Jennie Cowley Jennie Cowley 6:11 pm 05 Nov 19

Nice work guys!

    KJ Enaj KJ Enaj 9:21 pm 05 Nov 19

    Jennie Cowley who cares about the protesters? Complete waste of their time; usually done to virtue signal. What needs to happen is to overhaul the industry. People would be better off writing letters to their local member to have the government better regulate how the horses are managed humanely.

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 9:45 pm 05 Nov 19

    KJ Enaj bruh you ever tried writing to your local member? You don't think people haven't been CONSTANTLY contacting MLAs about the ACT horse racing industry? There is a petition with thousands of signatures, you think they actually listen to people? What magical fairytale land do you live in

    Paprika Smith Paprika Smith 9:50 pm 05 Nov 19

    KJ Enaj Like trainers in the ACT fail to get vet assistance for their horse resulting in the horse's death and they get 4 MONTHS suspension which they then appeal, and despite people writing to the minister who was responsible at the time, no action is taken and they get to waltz back into the industry. I honestly wish i could live a day in your mindset, just blindly believing that pollies are actually going to listen to reason or act morally. They won't take any action until they are shamed into doing so and in the meantime, they are spending 6 million dollars a year (of our money!) keeping thoroughbred park going.

    Greg Oakes Greg Oakes 10:38 pm 05 Nov 19

    KJ Enaj “Virtue Signalling “ - the term used by the shallow and ethically bankrupt when their morally indefensible position is challenged.

    KJ Enaj KJ Enaj 7:19 am 06 Nov 19

    Greg Oakes ok, go make a difference dude 😒

    KJ Enaj KJ Enaj 7:27 am 06 Nov 19

    Paprika Smith if enough write, yes it might instigate discussion by the government. But I'm talking about reform. Getting the racing industry onside. Getting those involved to buy into that change. Ofcourse it involves more than writing to the mp. Duh. But in the bigger picture that is what needs to happen. Industry reform by the industry. Do you think the industry cares about a person with a placard??

    E.g. industry regulating bodies need to look at syndicates and the accountability to the animal post career, where No one has connection to that animal emotionally because it was an 'investment'. Those are the kinds of nuts and bolts things that need to be examined.

    I think we are perhaps on the same page, but it needs to be looked at rationally.

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 11:33 am 06 Nov 19

    KJ Enaj, im interested to hear what you have done?

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