Social media users have mislabelled a photograph by claiming it shows a racehorse called The Long Mile being shot after running in the 2021 Grand National.
The photo, shared nearly 2,000 times on Facebook (here), shows three men and a racehorse behind a black screen. One of the men is holding a gun to the forehead of the horse.
“If you think the Grand National horse The Long Mile was taken away yesterday to a nice vet, made comfortable and euthanized peacefully, think again,” the Facebook user wrote in the photo caption. “Aintree racecourse horses are shot behind a ptable screen. His last moments were these.”
However, this is not true. While it is accurate to say The Long Mile was euthanised after the April 10 race at Aintree Racecourse, the photo did not depict that moment. It shows another horse called Wigmore Hall being euthanised in 2014 after shattering his leg during a race in Doncaster (here).
The 2014 picture drew widespread criticism from animal rights groups when it was initially published, prompting the RSPCA, an animal welfare charity, to comment on the matter. The organisation’s equine consultant told The Guardian at the time: “Shooting a horse is probably the most humane and quick way that you could put him down.
“I’ve been in racing for 18 years and we’ve looked at different methods. Shooting is quick, it’s decisive, it’s humane. In the circumstances where a horse has suffered a catastrophic injury, what would worry me more would be the delay involved in splinting the leg, taking the horse away and putting him down somewhere else after the horse has been suffering all that time.”
In an email to Reuters on April 22, the British Racing Authority (BHA) said The Long Mile had been euthanised by injection, not firearm, and added that euthanasia is generally an appropriate action if it prevents “immediate, unmanageable pain and suffering” or when the future welfare of the animal would be compromised.
The Long Mile, a seven-year-old gelding, had suffered an injury while running on a flat section of the Grand National race (here). His was the second equine death since new safety changes were implemented in 2013 (here).
According to the BHA, vets are advised that the chemical method of euthanasia is a preferred option; however, it is up to the attending vet to make a final decision on suitability.
“In some instances, the use of a licensed firearm might be required if the need to put a horse down is immediate, or if the horse is in a state of hyper-excitement and difficult to control, in which case administering an injection would not be straightforward,” the BHA told Reuters.
The authority added that in cases where a firearm is used, a full report citing the reasons it was chosen must be submitted to the BHA.
False. The photograph does not show The Long Mile, who was euthanised with chemical injection, not firearm.
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