Horses facts

  • The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is one of two subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. Horses in this subspecies are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC
  • Feral populations of horses are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies
  • Horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand shortly following birth
  • Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle or in harness between the ages of two and four, reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years
  • There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses. Horses used in racing are of the "hot bloods" type bread for speed and endurance
  • Different breeds of horses have developed for different sports. Breeds that are used for flat racing include the Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa. Jump racing breeds include the Thoroughbred and AQPS. In European harness racing, Standardbreds, Russian and French Trotter are used
  • A famous horse in popular culture is Black Beauty, the main character of an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. Many readers of this book related to the pain of the victimised horses, and ultimately wanted to see the introduction of reforms that would improve the well-being of horses

A brown horse running during a race

Why we need to protect horses

Horse racing causes unnecessary suffering and death. According to reports, race-horses are being fatally injured and destroyed on a regular basis at race-courses all over the UK. British Horseracing Authority (BHA) figures reveal that from 2010 to 2015 the average number of horses killed every year because of racing is 193. Most of these fatalities occur in National Hunt racing (also known as jump racing or steeplechase) which includes the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival.

We consider races over a course of four and a half miles over large and difficult fences to be too long and gruelling for most horses. The high number of fatalities on the course of long and very demanding races makes it clear that unnecessary suffering is being caused for sport. We are also against the whipping of horses, as the horse is being urged to go beyond what it is inclined to do, attempting to override the horse's own instincts which are to protect itself from over doing it.

What is the League doing to protect horses

  • We are campaigning for the abolition of the Aintree Grand National until and unless it improves its practices to such an extent that animal welfare and not the ‘unique character’ of the race is the priority
  • We are campaigning against the whipping of horses in sport


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