The Dark Side of Horse Racing
Horse racing is a thrilling sport and an iconic part of our culture. However, it is not without its dark side. The industry has a long history of cruel training and breeding practices, drug use, and injuries and breakdowns that often lead to euthanasia. Growing awareness of these issues is fueling calls for reform.
Horse races are long distance running events involving horses and jockeys. The object is to win the race and this requires a huge amount of skill from the jockey as well as enormous physical effort from the horse. Shorter sprint races can be fairly straightforward, but longer distance races such as the Grand National require a great deal of strategic riding to ensure the rider takes full advantage of their mount’s strengths and to make sure they strike at the right time to go into the lead.
A large number of injuries occur in horse racing, most commonly bone fractures and torn tendons and ligaments. Some horses die suddenly during or immediately after a race due to heart failure or exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, which is bleeding into the lungs that can be caused by over-exertion. Many of these deaths can be traced back to a combination of over-exertion and the use of cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries, increase speed, and enhance performance.
Many people have strong opinions about horse racing, including those who are passionate supporters and those who have no interest in the sport at all. The latter group includes those who are concerned about animal welfare and the impact of horse racing on the environment. Some of them also have concerns about the safety and security of spectators and horses.
The most famous horse races in the world are the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, the Dubai World Cup, and the Australian and New Zealand Melbourne and Caulfield cups. These races draw horses and spectators from all over the world.
Different national horse racing organisations may have slightly different rules, but the vast majority are based on the original rulebook of the British Horseracing Authority. Horses suitable for racing include Thoroughbreds, Arabian horses and Quarter horses. They are usually between two and five years old.
In addition to whips, tongue ties and spurs, which are used to cause discomfort and pain for the horse, there is another piece of equipment known as the jigger. This is a battery-powered device that delivers electric shocks and can be very painful to the horse when combined with other cues. Although jiggers are technically illegal, they remain in use for some jockeys and trainers in their efforts to gain an edge over the competition. It is widely recognised that the use of jiggers is detrimental to horse welfare and should be banned.