Horse races are one of the world’s most popular sporting events. They have a long tradition in both the United States and Europe, with modern horse racing widely considered to have begun in the 18th Century. Today, horse races are a global sport and betting on these events has become a popular pastime for many people. However, despite the popularity of horse racing, some people have serious concerns about the treatment of the horses that are involved in the race.
These concerns are largely due to the fact that horses, like any other animals, can be treated cruelly. The horse race industry must address these issues if it is to survive, and there are steps that can be taken to improve the situation.
A good start would be to create an adequately funded, industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare solution for horses leaving the track. Without this, thousands of ex-racehorses hemorrhage into the slaughter pipeline, where they are often subjected to arbitrary ransoms and sent on their way to horrific endpoints in Mexico and Canada.
An example of this is the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Eight Belles, who died shortly after the race from a collapsed lung. She was a filly and just three years old when she passed away, but her death sparked a national reckoning on the ethics and integrity of the race. Another notable recent case was that of star-crossed Medina Spirit, who also died from the extreme physical stress of her race.
The truth is that the majority of horse owners, trainers, jockeys and other professionals are not cheaters or amoral individuals. They are a group of good, if sometimes flawed, people who care about their sport and the horses that make it possible. This is the group that must give it its all to save horse racing.
To do so will require a fundamental change in how the sport is run. A change from an industry that prizes speed over all else to one that embraces the notion that stamina is the cornerstone of equestrian excellence. It will require a change in culture and in a legal system that recognizes the rights of all living creatures. It will require the kind of changes that would have given a chance to such horses as Seabiscuit and his followers Keepthename, Creative Plan and Laoban — and thousands of their colleagues whose futures were stolen from them.