Please don’t go around saying you love horses when you support and/or are a fan of horse racing. This industry causes hundreds of unnecessary deaths to horses each year in the US alone. I’m sick of following equestrian blogs that post racing, as if it’s something glorious that horses enjoy.
Here are the facts (whether you like them or not):
1. The racing industry causes thousands of horses to be bred only to be slaughtered, abused, and/or abandoned. This is because:
- Of the thousands of horses that race, very few actually perform exceptionally well. The rest must be disposed of.
- During training or racing, injuries are extremely common. Injured horses are either euthanized or sold to an owner who will (if they are again used for racing) inevitably drug the horse to mask his/her pain.
- Once a racehorse has finished his/her career (usually before he/she is even physically mature), they must be disposed of. There are not enough racehorse retirement facilities (or even adequate homes!) to go around.
2. Racehorses often suffer injuries racing because of not only the high stress of their work, but also because they are not mature when they begin training. The races in which there are the largest purses are 2 and 3 year old races. This means that the horse has to begin training at an extremely young age, as young as a year and a half. Anyone that rides horses knows that they usually begin training under saddle at 3 or 4 years old. At 1.5-3 years, their joints are still developing, while they are pushed to their limits, making injury much more likely. Most racehorse owners are not willing to put in money for veterinary care for a horse who does not have a prospect of racing again (unless they have already done well and are going to be offered as stud) because these owners do not care about anything but the money they can make off of their horses.
3. Horses are forced to race even when injured, causing enormous suffering. Many horses are sent out to race again before their tender, growing limbs have even healed from previous injuries. Because they are injured and will not perform as well, they are often drugged to mask their pain. Or they are giving other performance-enhancing concoctions such as bronchodilaters to make them able to oxygenate their muscles more rapidly, hormones, snake venom injected into sore joints to mask the pain and stiffness, something known as a “milkshake” containing a sports drink like gatorade and baking soda, which alters the blood pH making the horse unable to feel his/her fatigued muscles. These mask pain and fatigue making the horse more likely to hurt him/herself throughout a race, and not all drugs are detected in routine drug tests.
4. These unnaturally high stress situations at such young ages are likely to cause or exacerbate medical conditions such as stomach ulcers, heart murmurs, bleeding in the lungs, etc. These issues again, require suppressing or masking with drugs to retain the horse’s value (not health). Researchers have found gastric ulcers in 93% of racehorses. Another study found that after 9 months of race training, horses are twice as likely to have one type of heart murmur, and thrice as likely to have another type. In post-race examinations, 95% of horses were found to have sustained hemorrhaging in the lungs. As long as a horse continues to be involved in racing and training, their lungs will not heal.
….this list goes on. Here’s the source from which I paraphrased:
tl;dr Horse racing is an exceptionally cruel sport, and you will never be taken seriously by anyone who is half educated about the truths of it if you say “I love horses,” yet continue to support this industry. If you really loved them, you would not support an industry in which they are used solely as a means of entertainment and revenue generation.
This has been a public service announcement(/rant) courtesy of Marina.