I was pleasantly surprised when I came across an article that was about the unethical way a racing horse is treated – published in 1899. However, this was also a bit disappointing since some of the issues mentioned are still current and by far unresolved.
Horse racing is a difficult task for this animal to achieve. Most humans can’t tolerate being put through the rigorous training required to run a 200 meter sprint, and horses are not that different. We need to take into account that they weigh often more than 1,000 pounds and are supported by ankles the size of a human’s. This is a sport where they are mercilessly whipped – I know some may cry out that they can tolerate it, but even something that may seem tolerable can be painful. Take, for instance, people that get tattoos: it doesn’t tickle, yet some shut up and accept it. Horses are the same – some are willing to take it, but some wish they didn’t have to go through with it. And I don’t blame them.
Also, PETA denounces this industry as being just as dirty as the Olympics. We all have heard of the scandals of drug abuse when humans race and it’s the very same thing for horses. The main difference is that the animal doesn’t choose to participate – they are forced into it. It is mostly to cover up the pain of injuries, which of course leads to the animal becoming further injured. Furthermore, although most claim to ethically train the animal, this isn’t true: they are more often abused than not.
The strain and pain starts before the horse is even ready to tolerate it: when they are still growing and their bones aren’t set yet. There is an injury that is too much for the horse to make it to the finish line for each 22 races, and 3 horses die on the track every day in North America.
Hairline fractures are hard to diagnose and if the horse isn’t treated quickly enough, the next time it trains, it could end up unable to ever race again – and off to the slaughterhouse it goes. Most owners don’t even bother trying to sell it because they don’t have the time or just don’t care. Furthermore, apparently, once a horse is injured, most don’t want it because it no longer brings in money, as though that was the only reason God put them on earth.
There are, of course, several things that can be done to help stop or, at the very least, reduce the unethical torture these royal beasts live through.
- Always explain why racing a horse isn’t natural, without sounding patronizing, and ask people to stop betting. After all, there are other much more ethical human sports to bet on, where the players chose to be in the field.
- Although no more races would be ideal, try to advocate a better form of racing: grass tracks only, banning the use of drugs, better veterinary care for the animals, and to start racing and training only after their third birthday.
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