The Horse Race Industry
A horse race is a contest in which horses, ridden by jockeys, compete to be the first to cross a finish line. Prize money is distributed to the winner, second place and third place finishers, depending on the particular race. The sport of horse racing is a popular spectator event, and it is a common topic for media coverage.
Historically, horse races were used as a form of social and political commentary, pitting Northern champions against Southern ones. In the early nineteenth century, it was reported that the races were so popular that the public stood in lines of five hundred miles.
The horse race industry is not without its problems, however. Behind the glamorous facade of Thoroughbred races, there is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns and slaughter. Trainers often over-train and over-medicate their horses, causing them to break down and eventually end up at the slaughterhouse, where they suffer unimaginable cruelty. Random drug testing is in place but not always followed, and many trainers knowingly use illegal drugs because they increase speed and profit.
Horses used for racing must be able to run quickly and endure repeated sprints at high speeds, which puts them at risk of numerous injuries. The most common injuries include lameness, fractures and tendinitis. More serious ailments such as colic and aortic dissection can also occur.
During the pre-race preparation and warm-up, horses are ridden around the track in a parade ring and then lead into small metal gates called starting gates. These gates are then flung open when the starting bell rings. When a horse is rushed from its stall into the gate at high speed, it may injure itself or the jockey. Lower limb injuries are common in the starting gate, while upper limb injuries occur when a rider is flipped and pinned to the ground.
When a horse begins to lose pace, its trainer will usually give it a shot of epinephrine, or adrenaline. This will increase its heart rate, causing it to run faster and attempt to overtake the leading horses. This is a dangerous practice and can cause the horse to become exhausted or even collapse, which could result in death.
The horse racing industry is a billion-dollar business, but it cannot continue to ignore the welfare concerns of animal rights activists and the public at large. It is time for the industry to evolve into a sustainable, ethical for-profit model that places the best interests of the horses above all else.
This is the only way to ensure that horse racing can continue to be enjoyed by fans while putting an end to the cruelty and suffering of thousands of racehorses who will be lost to the sport in the future. Let us not forget Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan and countless other equine victims who will never experience the joy of a winning race.