Is Horse Racing Cruel?

A horse race is a competition between horses that has been held in civilizations across the world since ancient times. It is an exciting sport and can be very lucrative for the winner. However, many people believe that horse racing is cruel to the animals involved.

In recent years, several groups have advocated for reform of the sport, including animal rights organizations and professional jockeys. These advocates believe that the sport can be made more ethical by instituting better training practices and medication rules. Additionally, these groups advocate for more transparency and accountability of the sport’s owners.

Whether it is the spectacle of humans cheering on their favorite steed or the thrill of betting on a winning horse, the horse race has been an integral part of human culture for millennia. Archeological evidence suggests that horse racing was a common activity in Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt, as well as in Norse mythology. Today, horse races are still popular in many countries. The main reasons for this are the popularity of horse races as a sporting event, as well as the appeal of betting on these animals.

Most horse races are contested over a mile and a quarter, though some are shorter or longer. In a standard flat race, the horses are required to be purebred and have a pedigree that lists the sire and dam of each horse. In addition, the horses must be at least two years old and weigh a minimum of 1400 pounds in order to be eligible to run.

A few days ago The Atlantic published a devastating story based on secretly filmed footage of the treatment of world-class racehorses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and Saratoga in upstate New York. The video reveals, for the first time in public, what animal rights activists have long alleged about how trainers in top racing circles treat their charges.

The story is a wake-up call to anyone who cares about horse racing. It should be a reminder that, even as the industry struggles to improve medical treatment and introduce technological advances, racehorses are dying. It is no longer acceptable for the vast majority of racing fans to mourn the loss of a high-profile racehorse and move on to the next horse or dog, completely unaware of the plight of the thousands of other horses that lose their lives in this cruel sport.

The good news is that it is possible to create a more humane horse race by addressing these issues and creating an adequately funded wraparound aftercare solution for all horses that leave the track. As a start, that means no longer allowing the sale of ex-racehorses to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, which demand arbitrary ransoms from the owners who were the source of the horses’ income. Those dollars are needed to pay for the care of injured horses, but they shouldn’t cancel out the ongoing exploitation of younger running horses.