Monday, January 29, 2007

Let's Stop Horse Racing Now


Barbaro died today. I am glad his owners tried to save him -- that's what a racehorse owner should do but rarely does. But I think the American public is hypocitical. Thousands of race horses die every year, in far worse situations than Barabaro's. Even being a Kentucky Derby winner can't guarantee that the horse won't be slaughtered for meat.

Racing Thoroughbreds are magnificent, fragile babies that can barely support their own weight, let alone that of a jockey's. They run until they literally implode, because we ask them to. The entire gene pool is derived from just three stallions. Funny how no one wonders about what that might do to generations of animals.

These animals are bred for speed, not to survive. What are we DOING? Winning a trophy should not be so high up on our priorities that we condem millions of horses to misery. I've got a feeling if the situations were reversed, the horses wouldn't do it to people. They're not that greedy.

I used to worship horse racing. Football fanatics had nothing on me. I knew statistics, bloodlines; collected books, movies and artwork about racehorses. As a kid, I'd daydream about having my own racehorse.

Then, as I got older, I grew up. Seeing Charismatic being overtrained for the 1999 Triple Crown made me afraid to watch a race he was in, for I knew it was only a matter of time before he'd go down. And he did. And no one said boo. All they wanted to know was "Who do you like in the next race?"

It appalled me. I'd wasted years of my life on a sport that cared not one whit for the very animals it needs. I shocked my family and friends when I no longer watched races and wanted nothing to do with them. But I love horses more than what I looked like to others.

And I've never regretted it. I learned about other things, like paganism. The money, land and tracks of the racing industry can be used for better things, like building homes for the homeless, sheltering abandoned animals or becoming halfway homes for suddenly unemployed racehorses.

And the Thoroughbreds won't even mind if their breed goes extinct. The only ones who would mind are people.

22 comments:

Majic said...

It's weird you should blog about this - only watched a programme about 'retired' racehorses the other day.
Made me sick. I also couldn't understand how some of them could end up so neglected - at the end of the day they are still cracking horses who must be worth something to someone. Why not just sell them, or give them away?
The reason is obviously that they are just viewed as a commodity, as this egotistical human race views every animal it considers its inferior. Just don't get me started...

Anonymous said...

They further state that these horses suffer horribly at the hands of these owners. Really? You think it’s in an owners best interest to treat a horse badly that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is that logical? I heard a horse racing analyst on ESPN state that in almost every situation the horses are treated better than the trainers. They are pampered and treated like royalty. Hmm, I guess maybe I’d like to sign up for this type of horrible suffering.

rraven said...

I hope you do sign up for that kind of suffering, Anonymous, because then you'd see what a horrible "sport" it is.

Horses are raced when their bones are still fragile. A horse is phayically mature at age 5 and race horses begin training as yearlings to race at 2. Horses are taken care of only at the whim of the owners. Horses race for an average of two years and then they're dumped. These animals live to be 30 or 40. If they make the breeding sheds, they're not safe. Even Alydar, the top sire of the time, was killed for insurance money.

I used to work for a Standardbred horse racing stable and yes, the employees are treated horribly. Yet another reason to end horse racing.

Anonymous said...

It makes me sick how the horses only mean something to people when they win and even then most of the time they are sent to slaughterhouses.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, no kidding. The horses are treated like objects. STOP HORSE RACING!!!!! I compleetly agree with you Majic, rraven and the last anonymous.(not the one right after Majic)

Jade said...

Horse Racing Is Horrible, I Own an ex-racehorse. He is going fantastic at the minute, i dont know how early he was broken in but i am aware he won his first race at the age of 2 year old. i have kept in touch with 2 of his previous race owners and they said he has back problems so they sold him on, They often say i am worried about a 15 year old girl having this racehorse because he was a sprinter. He had been allover the world because horse trainers said they didnt want him, Once they had sold him on he had just stood in a field for 3 year doing nothing. and then i got him, he is doing fantastic, we have won dressage competitions, qualified in showjumping and everything, i think people just need to give the horses a chance. Horse Racing Is a horrible sport, they say the horses get the best of everything, THEY DONT !!! mine was fed 4 massive water buckets of feed (mix) a day, never had his teeth checked ( our dentist did him and he said they had never been touched they were like mushrooms) and then they go out for a gallop. come in have a bucket of feed, rest 1 hour, go back out and gallop. they NEVER go out and graze in a field. THIS SHOULD STOP !!! a horse has rights aswell as a human,

shehanaaz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
krista said...

i totally disagree..well, now i do. i used to think the same as you..until i started working with them last year. i worked as a groom and i cant tell u how spoiled these horses are. it has nothing to do with the money they make..the trainers that do good treat their horses good, and the ones that dont, dont last long. i started gallopping the young horses this winter...yes the two year olds. they are not trained to a point their bones cant take it..they are trained a minimum as 2 yr olds. gallopping 5 days a week for 4 minutes with 110 lbs on their back does nothing but help them. i can only say that ive experienced a lot of bad horsemanship..and most of it has been around everyday horses. that are left out in the paddock not getting fed or treated well in any way. i mean..especially since they are such a huge investment in the first place..they do everything they can to protect them. onsite vets at the tracks, farriers, massage therapists, equine chiropractics..the whole deal. so anyways i know this was pretty much random rambling but the point is....youve got it all wrong.

Anonymous said...

Not all horses start at 2yrs old. My older sister owns a farm and she doesnt train them until 3.5yrs. People say thats to late but hey they still race but just later. My sister makes sure EVERYTHING is perfect the horses have their strappers who are also treated well and the horses aren't run down. i can see where everyone is coming from but you can't just stop Horse Racing. Maybe first we should stop the Horse fighting in Korea? Thats worse then Horse Racing isn't it??? I'm not saying you guys are wrong but there is always 2 sides to a story and not always is one side right =)

Anonymous said...

I am 12 and i think that we should stop horse racing but think of this what would happen to these race horses??? there are a lot of them out there and racehorses are very hard to feed!!! my mum owns 2 and the eldest Sophie is still doing lessons but she is very hard to keep in best health. Tqui our other mare is not to fat and she has lost condition over the winter. Racehorses are very hard to keep, they are very high spirited (most of them). But racing should stop.

the real trainer said...

ok this is messed up my dad me and my whole family races horse and let u tell u we make 3 million a year and 2.5 of it gose in to those horses to make them happy and to tell u the truth these horses have better lifes then any other horse there is they love to run that what they like if they dont then they are not going to win the race so we sale them for ridein horses or hunter jumped and yes horse die alot but so do any other kind of horses out there we love our horses and they are very happy heathy horses so i dont think its right for you to talk bad about horseracin unless you have any kind of idea what you are talkin about becuase i KNOW you dont .... so look in to raceing will you

deon said...

If these ignorant people have no clue about horse racing. Im a jockey and people say all race horses start at to thats not true because it all depends on the horses legs, behavior, and how he trains up.
And we dont make horses run. if its not in them there not goin to do it and those horse arent neglected they are sold to good homes.
And these horses have good stong bodys and thats why we start train as yearlings. So please do more research before post thiese comments and plus the horses in the barn are so spoiled its not even funny. But horses have a totally different state of mind on the track.

Anonymous said...

I recently found out that a racing horse gets slaugher after they finish competing. This is so sad, how far human kind has become. We exploit everything for money or power. This makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

Not JUST racehorses are sent to slaughterhouses... It's horses of many, and yes, it is wrong. But horse-racing has evolved into one of the best. It's not cruel when you have the right set of mind. Not all owners just care about the trophies. Many care about the well-being of their horses, treat them like family, because to many, they are. Barbaro's family tried to save him, what makes you think there aren't others out there who'd do the same if their horse was in the same position? Though, no doubt, there are some who are selfish, and only care about money. But just because of those people, it's not very fair to name horse-racing a "sick" sport from the stories you hear about.

Amanda said...

I love to watch the horses run around the track, sure what happened to Barbaro, and Eight Belles was horrible, but you can't blame it on the sport itself. I love horses, I love horse racing, and you can't just stop horse racing. That would be like stopping football.

rraven said...

(The posts I removed were spam.)

OK. I'm done laughing at the sheer stupidity of some of pro-racing comments. Let's get serious now:

"The horses get treated better than people" -- I'd hate to live in your home. Do you pump your children up with steroids, pin-fire their legs, make them do hard labor before their skeletons have developed? And then, when they break down, do you them kick them out of the house?

"You think it’s in an owners best interest to treat a horse badly that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is that logical?": It IS logical for rich people to mistreat racehorses because they can make money out of it. They get tax breaks for having racehorses in training. Not for retired horses. For horses in training. That's all they are interested in -- the tax breaks and tax shelters.

It is true that only racehorses go to slaughter -- but the topic of the post is horse racing. We'll get to cruelties in other horse sports later (Google "Tennesse Walking Horse Soaring" and have a field day).

This is what happens to most racehorses - even Kentucky Derby winners:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-1X05IAayw

Why is the New York Racing Authority trying to ban all trainers who let thier ex-racers go to slaughterhouses? Getting a grain of consciousness?
http://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/stories/Dec102009.shtml

To the so-called jockey:

If you can't make a horse run, then why do you need whips and a rider to get them to run? Why not just have the horses run out there all by themselves? Get a real job. I repeat -- I used to be a racehorse groom. I know what goes on.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me all of you...but I happen to own 3 racehorses. I treat them all like they are my children. Alot of racehorse owners in this industry are the same way. Even though there are some greedy trainers/owners out there just in it for the money, there are several more in the sport because they love the horses. Also, alot of trainers try their very best to rehome these horses after their racing careers are over. Organizations like CANTER and New Vocations specialize in taking retired horses from the track and placing them in homes where they can be used for pleasure. And lets please not forget that some of these horses live to run and love it. One of my mares lost that "spark" so I retrained her for Hunters, and she now wins in the A Circuit. NOT ALL RACEHORSE OWNERS AND TRAINERS ARE EVIL and not all horses hate racing. Barbaro's owners did everything they absolutely could for him, but in the end they lost. Just dont make a snap decision about horse racing, because there are people who live for the horses involved within the sport.

Anonymous said...

To present the opposite side of the argument, and I am aware that I will get fried for this, about 30-40% of racing facilities actually are like the one scene constantly in the news. It is the accidents that you hear about, not the triumphs or achievements of thoroughbreds. I will admit myself that, being an employee of the racing world, I have seen horrible things happen to racehorses, and the people who slaughter their animals just because they no longer win races or are no longer usable sicken me, but I have seen both sides. The racing stable where I work, treats their racehorses with the utmost of care and respect. We stand in awe as we watch them race about their pastures and find honor in riding an animal so powerful and strong. We raise them from babies as companions not just commodities. I've met many people who operate their facilities just as we do ours. I don't necessarily agree with everything that happens but I've kept an open mind.
Also, please do not advocate for the extinction of the breed. Thoroughbreds are some of the most versatile horses in the field of english riding. They have high energy and, if trained right, that energy can become a huge advantage to the rider. For the person who like to ride for hours at a time the horses just keep on going. Not all thoroughbreds are like Barbaro or Eight Belles. (I commend both of these horses and hold them in the highest of respect for their bravery and courage, after their deaths I cried for hours as I do each time a racehorse dies) I agree that horses are raced too young. It should never be before the age of three-four (I'm studying to be an equine vet. I know my horse development) It is cruel to put such young horses as 1-2 year-olds in high stress situations.

Anonymous said...

I most generally separate racehorse owners/trainers into two categories; New and Old world trainers. Old world trainers are the ones who go by the more traditional methods of horse training. (ex. the horse doesn't go, you beat it) They are also the ones who pump the horses up on steroid and bute them before races. (I'm not singling anyone out as bad if they do this. This is a stereotype admittedly. There is some gray area.)
New World trainers are more likely to work with the horse AND riders to accomplish their goals. (ex. horse refuses to go into the gate. its jumpy and nervous. The trainer, or someone aiding, talks to the horse and gently coaxes it into the gate.) These are the kind of people who scratch their horse if they are gimping or just seem "a bit off" The kind of people who get to know their horses rather than brutally forcing them into submission.
In present times the climate for horse racing has become very specific and choosy. It is rather harder to be an "old world" trainer in today's climate because of new regulations and 'new world' trainers are pushing into their niche and filling it. This being said, while it does still exist there is less of the old and more of the new. That being said, I hope anyone reading this will take into consideration that not everything about horse racing is "evil."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that horse racing is cruel or sick has obviosly never even been closer to the sport than the t.v or a magazine article.Im fourth generation in the sport and even grew up at the track. The trainers owners and grooms do nothing but supply the best care to these horses. The sport is their buisness nobody in their right mind is going to intentionally destroy the livelyhoods of themselves or employees. If any horse is neglected its the pasture ornaments. ignorant people packing half a dozen horses on an acre of ground. The overnight horseman, or the horse saver. get a life thats whats sick and cruel.

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