There are many ways to help end horseracing: Share our daily posts on social media. Write a “letter to the editor.” Contact governors and legislators. And of course:
Organize or join a protest!
Our Horseracing Wrongs team has years of experience holding educational protests at racetracks. At Saratoga Race Course, our protests have grown from 20 activists to over 100 (and counting) in just four years. We recently massed over 150 activists for the Belmont Stakes – the single largest protest at a racetrack anywhere, ever. Here are some tips for organizing and conducting effective protests:
- Designate a set number of leafleters for your protest. We recommend that the leafleters not look like part of the group – no holding signs or wearing “activist clothing.” The leafleters should always be professional and approachable.
- Prior to the protest, position leafleters outside the parking lots where people are coming through and, if possible, near the entrances. It’s best to place leafleters before and/or after the protest line.
- Leaflets should be distributed with a positive attitude and a smile. “Would you like some information about Saratoga Race Course?” or “Here is some information about what is happening here today.” Again, always be professional and courteous.
- Please refrain from placing leaflets on cars or other property. It’s best to hand them directly to passersby (assuming, that is, they are willing to accept).
- If someone says “No,” or utters something unkind, simply smile and refocus to the next person. Do not engage in confrontation (even if someone takes a leaflet and crumbles it up in front of you). The animals need us to remain calm. (See guidelines for a successful protest.)
- After the protest or leafleting event, please take a few moments to check the area for discarded leaflets and pick them up. Reuse what you can and dispose of the rest accordingly.
Effective Advocacy for the Horses:
Our Horseracing Wrongs team has years of experience holding effective educational protests at racetracks. At Saratoga Race Course, our demonstrations have grown from 20 advocates to over 100 (and counting) in just three years. Currently, we are sponsoring protests at 21 tracks in 16 states, including at Santa Anita this past spring.
While there are many ways to be a voice for animals, we believe the most effective is through peaceful protests. If you have questions or need help, please reach out to Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guidelines for a successful protest:
- Know your venue. Take a trip to the venue to see where advocates can stand, whether it is safe, and if it is public property.
- Check local laws to determine whether you need a permit for your protest.
- Contact us if you would like a press release to help bring media attention. You can also advertise on online community-calendars and Meetup.
- Have an event page on Facebook with protest times, the reason for your protest, and if participants need to make signs or if they will be provided. Horseracing Wrongs will provide materials for your demonstration; however, some homemade signs can make a powerful addition to your demo.
- Copy and paste “protest guidelines” on your event page and remind advocates of these guidelines as they arrive.
- It is best practice not to engage in arguments with passersby or to yell at people going in. Demonstrations should be professional and educational. Arguments and yelling turns people off and may discourage them from asking questions. We believe our success at Saratoga is directly attributable to this approach.
- If people yell or say things to you, please let it roll off. It’s not worth having the message tarnished for the people who follow. Peaceful and composed.
- A peaceful group is an approachable group.
- If a fellow advocate becomes angry or too emotional, have someone take that person for a walk. We applaud everyone’s passion, however it is crucial – life or death for the animals – to maintain a level head.
- Protesters should refrain from loud conversations and crowding in the same spot. Be as quiet as possible and spread out to make it easy for people with questions to approach. (Tip: A group of two is very approachable.)
- Have one or two designated media and law-enforcement spokespeople (typically the organizers). Always be professional and courteous with everyone you meet. Don’t miss a chance to educate!
For current and past protests, please see the Horseracing Wrongs FB page.
Do you have a special talent? Graphic design, video editing, social media savvy?
Volunteering a talent or skill is valuable to the cause!
Contact email@example.com to see how you can help.