What’s Wrong with Horse Racing?
provided by Rob English
So, what, you may ask, is there something wrong with horseracing?
Well, there’s this:
Would-be racehorses are forever torn from their mothers and herds as mere babies. Sold, usually, at the tender age of one; “broken,” an industry term meaning to be made pliant and submissive; alone and terrified, their servitude begins.
The typical horse does not reach full musculoskeletal maturity till the age of six. The typical racehorse is thrust into intensive training at 18 months, and raced at two – the rough equivalent of a 6-year-old child. In the necropsies, we see time and again 4-, 3-, even 2-year-old horses dying with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease – clear evidence of the incessant pounding these pubescent bodies are forced to absorb.
In perhaps the worst of it, racehorses are kept locked – alone – in tiny 12×12 stalls for over 23 hours a day, making a mockery of the industry claim that “horses are born to run,” and a cruelty all the worse for being inflicted on innately social animals like horses. Prominent equine vet Dr. Kraig Kulikowski likens this cruelty to keeping a child locked in a 4×4 closet for over 23 hours a day. Relatedly, practically all the horse’s natural instincts and desires are thwarted, creating an emotional and mental suffering that is brought home with crystal clarity in the stereotypes commonly seen in confined racehorses: wind-sucking, bobbing, weaving, kicking, even self-mutilation.
Racehorses are controlled and subjugated through, among other means, cribbing collars, nose chains, lip chains, tongue ties, eye blinders, mouth “bits” – which, says Dr. Robert Cook, an expert on equine physiology, make racehorses feel like they are suffocating – and, of course, whips. On that, the public flogging administered to racehorses would land a person in jail If done to his dog in the park. But at the track, it’s part of the tradition.
By law, racehorses are chattel – pieces of property to be bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their people decide. In fact, the average racehorse will change hands multiple times, adding anxiety and stress to an already anxious, stressful existence (over 90% of active racehorses suffer from chronic ulcers).
Then, death. Since 2014, Horseracing Wrongs has documented almost 9,000 industry kills. We estimate, however, that over 2,000 horses are dying at U.S. tracks every year – cardiac arrest, pulmonary hemorrhage, blunt-force head trauma, broken necks, severed spines, ruptured ligaments, shattered legs – over 2,000, or about six per day. And when not dying at the track, they’re dying at the abattoir: Two independent studies indicate that most – multiple thousands annually – spent or simply no-longer-wanted racehorses are bled-out and butchered at “career’s” end. In short, the American horse racing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. Carnage.
With sensibilities regarding animal “entertainment” rapidly evolving – Ringling gone; SeaWorld in decline; rodeo bans in multiple cities; and most relevant, dog racing all but dead (by the end of this year, there will be but two tracks left in the entire country; dog racing is outright prohibited on moral grounds in 42 states) – the time has come for the cruel, murderous “Sport of Kings” to be sent to the dustbin of history. (For more information, including how to help end the massive subsidization – over $230 million per year – of NY’s horse racing industry, please visit horseracingwrongs.org.)
Photo of jockey racing on horse by Abdiel Hernandez Villegas and photo of 3-horse racing on field by Dustin Cox from pexels.com
This article was written by Patrick Battuella, Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs and provided by Rob English who is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York.
Contact People for Animal Rights
PO Box # 401,
Cleveland, NY 13042