Horse racing is a hard sport what asks a lot of our horses. I am a racing fan, but I can see why people might think racing is wrong. It is totally okay for people to think that racing is okay. At this time of year, around the Grand National, there is so much anti racing content on social media. Again, it is okay to have this opinion and share content about it. But so many of the people sharing and commenting on this content don’t know some key points about racing what might give them a new perspective.
1. Horses are put down when it is in their best interest
One of the biggest reasons people have an issue with horse racing is that horses are put down when they receive certain injuries. Some people seem to believe that they are put down because they can no longer race or because the owner doesn’t want to pay for the treatment. But this isn’t the case. Horses are only put down with an injury if it is believed to be the best thing for them.
Horses are not like dogs. They cannot cope on 3 legs. Taking the weight off a badly injured leg for a long period of time usually results in overloading the good leg, causing further injury. Bad limb injuries also need a lot of rest. Horses are not designed to be stood still, or even laying down, for long periods of time. Long periods of rest can lead to further complications such as stomach ulcers, colic and pneumonia just to name a few. Some horses also find being stabled for so long periods upsetting and stressful. It is often deemed kinder to put the horse down than put them through that when the prognosis of them being pain free is so poor.
Finally, this isn’t just in racing. Certain injuries, in particular broken legs, are bad news in any horse. But if you doubt that putting a horse with a broken leg down is the right thing to do, reach out to some of the great charities in this country and ask what they would do if they were called out to a horse with a broken leg. Sadly in most cases these horses will be put down.
2. The horses are just viewed as machines
Another argument those who don’t like horse racing have is that the people involved in racing don’t care about the horses, they are just viewed as machines. While there are probably people in the industry who don’t care for horses, they are the minority.
The Lads and Lasses who ride and look after the horses on a daily basis adore the horses in their care. This type of work is usually long hours, weekends, bank holidays in all weathers and for fairly low pay. It is more than just a job, it is a vocation. You have to love it and the horses in your care.
But it’s not just the people handling the horses every day. The most successful trainers and jockeys know that happy and healthy horses will perform better than other horses. Racing is constantly evolving to improve how they train and manage their horses to get the very best results from them. These improvements include making sure the horse has the best possible quality of life and that all their needs are met.
3. Never putting horses at risk isn’t ethical
It sounds a bit backwards, but never putting our horse at risk isn’t ethical. In Sports Horses, about 80% of traumatic injuries happen when the horse is being a horse in the field. This figure doesn’t directly translate to horse racing as horses typically get less turnout and the exercise is higher risk. Hacking horses out on the roads or across open fields is a higher risk than just riding in the same arena. But turnout and hacking has great benefits to horses mental and physical health.
The point here is that while racing is a high risk sport, there is an argument that if racehorses had more turnout, they would have more injuries there. There are also risks to other sports. Dressage horses are prone to lots of repetitive strain type injuries and arthritis. Show jumpers & eventers can suffer falls and jumping related accidents. Polo ponies risk high speed crashes, bumps and knocks. It is difficult to argue that one sport is wrong when others walk a very similar line but seem to be accepted.
4. Some horses truly love racing
Horses competing at the top of the sport in the biggest races have to enjoy racing. If they didn’t they wouldn’t do as well as they do. Horses who either don’t enjoy or fall out of love with racing, usually end up performing poorly and being retired because it is too expensive to keep a horse in training if they aren’t interested. Many of these horses go on to have successful careers in other sports. It is very difficult to get a half tonne animal to do something they don’t want. It is even harder to have an argument with them about it and expect them to win a race. They will use up too much energy arguing.
On a recent visit to Emma Lavell’s yard, I met Killer Clown. She said this horse just adored racing. He loves every aspect of it to the point where he struggles to contain his excitement warming up or even on the gallops.
Racing is a hard sport. It asks a lot of horses. It is understandable that people do not believe that racing is okay. I would just like there to be more accurate information out there so that people can base their opinion on facts and get a wider view of horse racing. Rather than just the opinions and often mis information we normally see.
Last Updated on 12/04/2022