The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is calling for a total ban of sulky road racing.
The sport is a type of harness racing, with one horse and a lightweight two-wheeled carriage called a sulky. It has become popular amongst Irish travellers, who hold illegal races on main roads.
“The lives of innocent road users and those involved in sulky road racing, some as young as ten years old, are at grave risk if this activity, which is motivated by gambling, is permitted to continue,” said Barbara Bent, chairperson of the ISPCA. “We maintain that a serious accident, injury or fatality is imminent.”
The ISPCA doesn’t want to see a ban on all sulky racing, but wants regulations put in place that would see it limited to official clubs and racetracks. This would not only prevent a potential road accident, but also safeguard the well-being of the horses.
“Trotting must only be done on the correct surface which ensures the least amount of damage to horses,” said Brent. “One trip or stumble can be fatal or cause devastating injuries. Severe damage to joints at such a young age can leave the animal in chronic pain with permanent immobility.”
The video in this story, which shows two travellers racing along a busy road in Cork, went viral earlier this year. It reveals just how dangerous sulky road racing can be, and while the men were eventually caught arrested, they were not charged.
“Driving young horses or ponies flat out at high speed on busy roads and motorways is not only dangerous but is blatant animal abuse,” said Brent.