Day: May 28, 2023
Horse racing is a sport that involves a contest of speed and stamina between two or more horses. It is one of the oldest sports, and its basic concept has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. It has evolved from a primitive contest to a spectacle of international importance, but the fundamental principle is still the same: The horse that crosses the finish line first wins the race.
Horses used for racing are often forced to sprint – or gallop – at speeds that can exceed 40 miles per hour, and they frequently sustain injuries or breakdowns, such as hemorrhage from the lungs, because of this extreme stress. To make matters worse, many horses are given cocktails of legal and illegal drugs to mask their injuries, artificially enhance their performance, or both. These drugs can also have dangerous side effects, including death.
Despite this dark underbelly, horse racing is a popular sport that draws crowds and generates millions in betting profits. In addition, it contributes to the health and welfare of a country by providing employment to horse racing professionals such as trainers, jockeys and stable hands.
The exact origins of horse racing are not known, but it is believed to have been practiced in ancient civilizations, both in chariot and mounted (bareback) races. Both forms of the game were well-organized in the Olympic Games of Greece over the period 700-40 bce, and organized horse racing was popular in Roman times.
As modern society has become more enlightened, public perception of the sport of horse racing has shifted to a greater appreciation for animal rights and the welfare of animals. As a result, the industry has responded to increased pressure by taking a number of positive steps towards improving the safety and welfare of its horses.
For example, there are now more and more horse race tracks that require a necropsy after each fatal incident to determine the cause of the death. The veterinary records and the testimony of race officials and other stakeholders are then reviewed to learn what steps could have been taken to prevent the accident. Similarly, California and New York now have public databases that catalogue equine deaths.
In an effort to maintain their popularity, the major racing governing bodies have pushed for reforms that include restrictions on the use of illegal electric shock devices called jiggers and tongue-ties, as well as whips. But these measures are only a small step toward the necessary changes to the rules and regulations of the industry so that horses can be allowed to live longer and more fulfilling lives. The time to do this is now, before it is too late. A full-scale reckoning is needed at the macro business and industry level, as well as within the minds of horsemen and women. If this happens, then the future of horse racing can be one in which all horses are treated with dignity and respect.