Horse-racing: Thrilling but at what cost?
BY CAROL LI
In the field of competitive sports, we often think of individuals physically pushing themselves to strive to be the best. However, for this particular activity, it is the animals, not humans, who are becoming the victims of constant exertion. To these animals, it is torture; to us, it is better known as the sport of horse-racing.
The sport has been around for decades, catching the attention of many due to the rush of adrenaline and breathtaking exhilaration that comes from watching horses and riders racing to be first, at the top of the pyramid. Although popular and entertaining, horse racing has manifested into a larger issue of whether the horses are able to survive a lifestyle with the constant practice and strict discipline that comes from competing.
Rather than focusing on the legacy of horse racing, society should become aware of how horses are being mistreated and stripped away from living in a sustainable nature. It is time to realize that these poor animals deserve more than cruel treatment for the sake of a entertaining horse-riding race.
Recently, there has been attention called to the behavior toward these animals; according to the New York Times, nearly ten horses a week die at American horse-tracks. While this seems like a miniscule number, the amount of deaths adds up as the year progresses, resulting in a very significant value that society cannot ignore. However, this stems the question: what kind of harsh treatment do racing horses experience that results in such a formidable statistic?
In an article published by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), racehorses are forced to move at speeds where they are prone to injuries and can contract hemorrhage from the lungs. Furthermore, the practice of whipping is relatively common the U.S., where there are not many consequences handed out to extreme violators in most states. Then, in 2013, PETA proclaimed that top trainers and jockeys admitted to having used illegal electro-shock devices on horses.
All this behavior indicates that horses are not looked after in a ethical manner. It is clearly detrimental for horses to be pushing their bodies in such a intense manner, but the problem of whipping and not taking effort to care for the horses depicts owners as irresponsible, and the crowd as unsympathetic.
Despite the fact that horses are not at the top of the list of endangered species, they still provide numerous benefits for the world and environment. If this cruel conduct towards horses continues, then it will result in the disappearance of horses and horse racing. Not only will this impact living organisms on Earth, but also strip the sport away from fans who have placed horse-riding in a special place in their heart.
Consequently, this does not mean that horse-racing must be eliminated once and for all. Fans should be able to experience races, but only if riders and owners recognize the consequences of their actions and strive to give their horses a chance to live.
For instance, instead of focusing on training the fastest horse, the priority needs to go toward the competitive horses’ health. This is important to emphasize, as the horse’s body is constantly being put under strain; furthermore, the rider will practice endlessly with horses to perfect routines. Even though horse-races last for short amounts of time, these horses dedicate their whole lives to sprint daily, a factor that the audience may not realize. As a result, owning horses in good physical condition is essential to continuing horse-racing due to the excessive exercise horses endure from participating.
Because of the numerous stories that have surfaced exposing the behavior toward race horses and consequences that result, the public has become aware of the actions and detriments that are inflicted on the species. Society’s awareness towards this issue has been prominent in changing the caretaking of these horses, as racetrack owners have released public statements to improve their animal maintenance.
For example, after a series of horse deaths at the Santa Anita race tracks, the organization implemented medication limits and released additional track veterinarians to monitor training hours and the board increased veterinarian. Although a small step, the reforms at the Santa Anita track show initiation to improve the lives of horses and preserve the sport of horse-racing.
As a result, while these actions and reforms have slowly but surely improved the lives of horses, individuals in society need to do their part and understand and not everything is about entertainment. Being aware of the consequences that come from extreme horse racing can hopefully encourage the riders and horse racing institutions to develop a behavior toward horses that will preserve their lives and give them an opportunity to be healthy and thriving