Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in history. It basically involves two or more horses saddled by jockeys or, sometimes, allowed to compete over a distance for the purpose of identifying which is the fastest. The equestrian performance game attracts global audience and wide support across people of all ages, race, gender and class — thanks to its reputation for elegance and profitability. Horse racing is, however, misunderstood by many who consider it a game for the wealthy class due to the industry glamour which they erroneously measure by classy men in limousines wearing expensive suits, cowboy hats and designer clothes probably costing thousands of dollars. Additionally, news coverage is saturated with celebrities and graceful women in high heels and expensive clothes whose perceived love for the sport makes it more attractive to many. But away from the glam and glitz of horse racing, the money-spinning sport is widely criticized for its use of animals as entertainment commodities.
Horse racing picture (Image Source: istockphoto)
Horse racing arguably increases the animals to susceptibility to injuries. Recurring cases of animal abuse by trainers and jockeys have also been a controversial issue in the world of sports. Appraisers of horse racing games are, nonetheless, divided on their opinions about the relevance of the sport; some find it glamorous, entertaining and good for investments whereas many others are more concerned about animal safety issues and other moral aspects such as:
- Performance enhancement drugs, without doubts, adds a big boost to horses’ speed, energy and agility. Drugging horses makes them run as fast as possible and this practice is common in the racing industry. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) found that trainers use hypothyroidism to increase animal metabolisms. Furosemide and Lasix are other diuretics that horse trainers also use to improve resilience during intense training or games, and more importantly, to reduce or eliminate pulmonary bleeding. Remarkably, Lasix is used to mask other hard drugs in horses’ system and give them an added touch during competitions—a reason why critics of the game describe horse racing games as “full of lies and abuse”. It is even more so because Lasix dehydrates the animals and cause them to lose weight in other to run faster.
- Trainers subject horses to a scarring process (also known as “freeze firing”) in which the animals are mutilated for liquid nitrogen injections that improve flow of blood in sore muscles. Despite the efficacy of painkillers in animals, critics of horse racing worry that surgery is unnecessary because it leaves race horses with lifetime scars.
- Watching horse racing games is quite interesting but the reality of the game is not exactly as portrayed in the media. Horse breeding in the 21st century focused on creation of species that can comfortably run at 30mph with a body weight of 1,000 pounds. Impossible as it seems, the increased speed and manoeuvrability often lead to exhaustion, bone fractures, and untimely death. Animal activists exposed the dangers of reckless breeding after a 4-year-old colt competing during the Jaipur Invitational Race held at Belmont Park, New York, sustained grave injuries but was injected with hard drugs behind closed curtains to get it back on the track. The horse named Helwan eventually died in the race. Similarly, a week before Helwan’s death, another 5-year-old horse named Soul Horse finished 7th out of 10 in a race but collapsed and died shortly afterward. Another 5-year-old horse which raced at New York’s Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack also died during a training session within the same period. Statistics show a high rate of horse deaths every year, with about 24 horses dying on US race tracks every week.
While records of horse deaths are quite staggering, critics argue that most of these incidents remain unreported thereby reducing the total count around the world. However, it is more heart-breaking that thousands of different horse species are sold off after exceeding their youthful years. More than 10,000 thoroughbreds in the United States are usually transported to Mexico when they are no longer capable of performing on race tracks. These animals are then starved in transit to the South American country where they are sold at auction and slaughtered – an unregulated illegal practice which attracts global condemnation.
What you should know
Race horses receive the best care from trainers and this is the reason why people with good knowledge of a particular horse or jockey can stake huge sums of money to win big. Of course, without good care the animals can’t be healthy, and without good health, they can’t compete on race tracks. Admittedly, the horse racing industry is built on money and greed but the question about whether horse racing is evil and should be abolished can’t be answered in a hurry. Everyone has their individual rights and moral values. It is therefore a matter of conscience to do what is right or profitable.
So, before you consider watching horse racing games, betting in the sport, or joining animal rights activists, search your heart for the “right” answers.