DataPDF Available

Naturalness and the Legitimacy of Thoroughbred Racing: A Photo-Elicitation Study with Industry and Animal Advocacy Informants - Executive Summary

Authors:
DOI10.3390/ani10091513ExecutiveSummary1/2
NaturalnessandtheLegitimacyofThoroughbredRacing:
APhotoElicitationStudywithIndustryandAnimal
AdvocacyInformants
IrisM.Bergmann,PhD
Citation:Bergmann,IrisM.2020.NaturalnessandtheLegitimacyofThoroughbredRacing:APhotoElicitationStudywith
IndustryandAnimalAdvocacyInformants.Animals10(9):1513.Availableathttps://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091513
Contact:iris.bergmann@sydney.edu.au,PhDResearcher[ThoroughbredRacing|Sustainability|AnimalProtection].FacultyofScience,
SchoolofGeosciences,TheUniversityofSydney
ExecutiveSummary

Background
Theinternationalthoroughbredracingindustryis
concernedaboutthepublic’sperceptionofthewelfareof
thoroughbredsinracing.Accordingly,theindustry’sfocusis
onthoseaspectsthathavebeencentredinthepublic
discoursetodate:Theuseofdrugsonraceday,injuriesand
deathontheracetrack,andretirementfromracing.
However,manycommonracingpracticesoutsidethisfocus
alsohaveasignificantimpactonwelfare.Thisisdiscussed
inthegeneralequinewelfareliteraturereferring,for
example,totheimpactofridingandotheractivitieson
equinebehaviourandwelfare,theapplicationof
equipment,equinelearning,humanhandling,andthe
horsehumanrelationship.Italsoreferstopeople’sability
andinabilitytorecognisebehaviouralsignsofequine
distressandpain.Yet,thereseemstobealackofindustry
interestinengagingwiththeimpactofcommonracing
practicesonthoroughbredwelfare.
Instead,participantsinracingmostlyclaimthat
thoroughbredslovetoraceandthatitisnaturalforthem.
Theideaofwhatisnaturalplaysasignificantroleinthe
thoroughbredracingandbreedingdiscourse.Recently,the
conceptofnaturalnesshasalsogainedattentioninthe
animalwelfareliterature.Moreover,theideaofwhatis
naturalisimportantforthegeneralpublicwhenthinking
aboutwhatagoodanimallifeis.Therefore,thereisaneed
tofurtherexploretherolethatnotionsofnaturalnessand
whatisnaturalplayinthethoroughbredwelfarediscourse.
ResearchAims
Theaimsofthisstudyweretoexplorehowkeystakeholders
inthethoroughbredindustry
conceptualisenaturalnessandwhatisnaturalforthe
thoroughbredinracing,
howthisimpactstheirperceptionsofcommonracing
practiceswhichpotentiallyimpactthehorses’welfare
onraceday,
whatimplicationsthishasforthoroughbredwelfare,
howtheindustryispositionedtorespondtosociety’s
evolvingattitudestoanimalwelfare.
Methods
Participantsincludedninethoroughbredindustryinfor
mantswithbackgroundinexecutive,administrativeand
governancerolesfromAustralia(3),theUS(5)andan
internationalbody(1),andsevenanimaladvocacyinfor
mantsfromAustralia(3),theUK(2)andtheUS(2).Thisis
anexploratory(qualitative)studythatinvolvedsemi
structuredinterviewingandphotoelicitation.Forphoto
elicitation,fourimagesofcommonscenesonracedaythat
potentiallyattractinterestduetowelfareconcernswere
presentedtotheinformants,askingthemtodescribewhat
theysee(forexample,seeFigure1).Naturalnesswasused
asalensfordiscourseanalysisoftheresponses,and
Bergmann’sframeworkofLayersofEngagementwith
AnimalProtectionwasappliedtodeepentheanalysis.
Figure1:Exampleofimageusedforphotoelicitationinterview.
KeyFindings
Trendsinresponsesbygroupofinformantsemerged
clearly.Wheretherearevariationstothosetrends,theyare
explainedcarefullyinthefullarticle.
ThoroughbredIndustryInformants
Theindustryinformantstendedtonaturaliseandnormalise
thethoroughbreds’responsestoracingpracticesshownin
theimages.Theytendedtonormaliseanddownplaythe
impactoftack,humansandotherfactors.Theyalsomostly
DOI10.3390/ani10091513ExecutiveSummary2/2
sawthethoroughbredasawillingparticipant.Theytended
toseetheexpressionsofthethoroughbredsasaresultof
thethoroughbreds’nature.Thisnaturewasthenusedto
justifyanddefendthedepictedpractices.
Somesawavisualproblemratherthanawelfareproblem
andtheneedtoeducatethepublicaboutthepracticesnot
impactingwelfare,orbeingintheinterestofwelfare.
However,whatisconsiderednaturalinthisdiscourseisnot
consistentwithresearchperspectivesforexamplein
ethology(perspectivesbasedonscientificstudiesofanimal
behaviour).
AnimalAdvocacyInformants
Animaladvocacyinformantsmostlynoticedawiderangeof
factorsandconditionstheyconsideredunnaturaland
impactinghorsewelfare.Theysawthedepictedpractices,
thatisthetackusedandthehumanhandling,ascausingthe
horsetorespondinthedepictedways,andimpactingthe
horseinawaythatcompromisestheirwelfare.Thenature
ofthehorsewasusedasanexplanationforwhyracing
practicesarenotintheinterestofwelfare.Someadvocates
alsosawaneedtoeducatethepublicbuttheirinterestlies
ineducatingabouttheexistenceofcertainpracticesand
theirnegativewelfareimpact.
Discussion:LayersofEngagementwith
ThoroughbredProtection
MostoftheindustrydiscoursetookplaceatLayers1–4(see
Figure2).Theindustryinformantsandthethoroughbred
industryatlargeseenatureasalimitingfactortobe
overcomethroughinvasivemeanssuchastheuseofdrugs,
surgery,tackandbreeding.Concernfornaturalnessis
reducedtothetropethoroughbreds“lovetorace”.
Whilewelfareoverallgainsmoreweightinthe
industrydiscourseatLayer3,thefocusthereisonthe
visibleandmostegregiouswelfareviolations.The
notionofnaturalnessisirrelevantforwelfareandfor
industryintegrityfromtheindustry’sperspective.
Mostly,industryinformantsdidnotconsiderthe
commonracingpracticesdepictedintheimagesasa
matterofconcernforwelfare.
Layer5offersopportunitiesforsignificant
engagementwithwhatisnaturalandwithcommon
racingpractices.Thediscourseatthislayeris
interestedinthetrainingandenvironmental
conditions,thedaytodayliving,husbandrypractices,
theconsiderationofthehorse’sentirelifespanand,to
somedegree,horsehumanrelationships.Where
Layers5and6meet,thehorsehumanrelationship
gainsrelevance.AtLayer6,thediscoursemoves
beyondveterinaryscienceandothersbasedinthe
naturalsciences.Someindustryinformantsengaged
atLayer5,inparticularwiththoroughbredretirement.
Generallyhowever,atthesystemiclevel,the
discourseatLayers56hadlimitedrelevanceforthe
industryinformantsandtheracingindustryatlarge.
Theadvocacyinformantshadastronginterestin
engagingatLayer5,inparticular,withaspectsof
naturalness.Theyidentifiedavarietyofaspects
relevantforthoroughbredwelfare.Mostly,the
advocatessawwhatisnaturalasaguideforthoroughbred
welfareandprotection.Atthesametime,theyoften
demonstratedaholisticviewofnaturalness,aviewthatwas
consistentwithinitselfandwithethologicalperspectives.
Theyalsoincludedinthisviewthehorsehuman
relationship,andrecogniseditslinktowelfare.Whilemuch
oftheadvocates’thinkingwasplacedinthereformarea
aroundLayers56,sometransformativeideas(Layer7)
werealsopresent.Theywereinterestedinsafeguardingthe
natureofthehorse,theirphysiologicalandpsychological
integrity.Interestwaslargelyfocusedonnaturalnessasa
baselineand,tosomedegree,asanidealtobeprotected.
Conclusion
Thisstudybringsintothespotlighttheimpactofsome
commonracingpracticesonthoroughbredsandthe
consequenceoftheindustry'snonrecognitionofthese
impacts.Italsohighlightstheneedtodefinenaturalnessas
aholisticnotion.Thestudyhasfurtherdevelopeda
diagnostictoolthatcanbeusedtointerrogateawelfare
discourseintermsofwhoseinterestsitserves.Thisis
importantinparticularforpolicysettingsbecauseoften,the
linesarebeingblurred.
Thechallengesforthoroughbredwelfarearemuchbroader
thantheindustrycurrentlyconsidersattentionworthy.The
nonrecognitionofcompromisedhealthandwelfareofthe
thoroughbredinracingresultingfromsomecommonracing
practicesposessignificantthreatstothoroughbredwelfare.
Theseareamplifiedbyindustrymisrepresentationsofwhat
isnatural.Thestudyconcludesthatthelegitimacyof
thoroughbredracingwillbeincreasinglyquestionedasthe
discourseoncommonracingpracticesandanimal
protectionadvancesinsocietyatlarge.
Figure2:LayersofEngagementwithThoroughbredProtection. Indicatesthe
statusofthenotionofnaturalnesswithinthediscourseasdescribedbyLayer1to
Layer8(L1–L8).Thestatusofthethoroughbredindustrydiscourseissituated
withineachlayer.Adiscoursecantakeplaceatseverallayersconcurrently.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.