I thought this subject is something all horse-loving people should be aware of, if you are not already. I am referring to the ruthless exploitation and greed of the racing industry (This blog refers to Great Britain but the same principles apply in all countries).I know that most people consider that horse-racing is a completely harmless sport, that the animals are well taken care of, and that “they only run because they want to run.”, as I used to think myself. (this is a common myth). Unfortunately that is far from being the case: racing actually causes a great deal of suffering and death to horses. I only realised this myself a few years ago (and I am well into middle age!) So naturally now I will always boycott races, unless it is to protest about them (I have a close friend who regularly hands out anti-racing leaflets at racecourses near her, in all weathers, and has also experienced a lot of abuse and harassment in the course of this, but she steadfastly carries on, which I really admire her for).
If anyone finds it hard to believe how cruel racing is to horses, I think the statistics of casualties and deaths speak for themselves. To give an example: around 420 horses in Britain and Ireland are raced to death every year, and thousands of commercial “failures” are disposed of, e.g. sent to be made into pet food, for example. You can view a report of all the racing accidents and fatalities here, compiled by the national UK-based pressure group, Animal Aid. If you study this report, you swill see that these figures are horrifying, and it is completely unjustifiable. Even the horses that are not raced to death usually have quite miserable lives. They often develop serious racing-related illnesses, such as heart problems, bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers. Not to mention the fact that they are whipped to make them run faster, which is clearly cruel and painful, and often leaves the animals with weals which need to be treated.
The cruelest race of all for horses in Britain is the Grand National, a steeplechase over three days held at Aintree in England. It is deliberately hazardous, to maximise the risk and “excitement”, with the horses having to confront very high and treacherous jumps and hurdles. Almost every year there are fatalities; even if horses are not killed outright, they end up with horrific injuries like broken legs, necks and backs (see the accompanying picture) and have to be put down (or, quite often, don't have to be put down, but are not given the chance to recover, as whilst they are incapacitated they are not making any money for their owners! There is no compassion for the animals, it is all completely ruthless and mercenary). The horses who get to retire are not usually kept in good conditions, but end up being neglected and slaughtered. This disgustingly cruel industry is kept going by the course attendance fees and money made through betting.
I hope I have managed to persuade anyone who cares about horses not to support racing in any way. Here is a petition to ban the Grand National in Britain, for anyone who would like to add their support to this campaign:
I hope that this blog gave you some food for thought. Your votes and comments are much appreciated.
Picture courtesy of www.animalaid.org.uk