Horse Racing Is ‘Acceptable Abuse’

Horse Racing Is ‘Acceptable Abuse’

“The race was marred by the death of runner-up Eight Belles, who collapsed after the wire after fracturing both front ankles. The brave and massive gray filly, trained by Larry Jones and owned by Fox Hill Farms, was euthanized almost immediately on track.” – From the synopsis on this year’s 134th Kentucky Derby.

This ‘brave’ filly was asked to put thousands of pounds of pressure per stride on her delicate, half-formed leg bones. Years of ‘selective breeding’ have created a Thoroughbred horse who is faster – but who is so delicate that track injuries are steadily increasing. When 800+ plus horses die on tracks every year, it makes you wonder, what number will be great enough that we’ll move horse racing into the category of abuse currently occupied by dog and bird fighting? Add to that 800 the thousands of horses who are seriously injured and killed later, or who do not perform and either end up as meat or breeding machines. Once again, it’s not okay for me to break a horse’s legs at home, even if someone paid me a million dollars. But in a competition? Sure, that’s fine. Yes, the odds of it happening aren’t huge, but the odds are significantly greater than if Belles was home, hanging out, doing what horses are meant to do. Which isn’t to run 35mph for a mile and a half with a 105lb human on their backs. Or to jump a 5 foot fence with a 120lb human on their backs.

I see a great beauty in a horse speeding down the track. Despite everything I know, my heart soars when I’m watching them fly down the backstretch. But I see equal beauty in a horse playing by himself in a field. I can see no beauty in a three year old with her whole life ahead of her snapping both her ankles. I see nothing but a grizzly spectacle reminiscent of the the gladiators of Rome.

Please, stop saying that Eight Belles didn’t deserve this and start saying that no one, no horse, no animal, deserves this, and thus no human should put them in a position where it can happen. This isn’t a tragic accident. It’s “a risk we’re willing to take”, gambling with another life. I can’t help but remember three years ago when Barbaro shattered his leg in the Preakness Stakes. Thousands of people were crushed and saddened, but did anything change? Can things change? Yes, absolutely. It’s up to us to make sure they do.

I think the end of this article sums it up nicely; although she did what very few fillies has ever done, raced the Derby, killed herself for human pleasure, is dead…

“Still, Eight Belles was a sentimental pick by 157,770 fans, second-largest crowd in Derby history. She repaid their support by returning $10.60 and $6.40 for a $2 win ticket.”

At the last, we rate her by her monetary value.
eight_belles_2.jpg
Crossposted @ That Vegan Girl.
Top image credit: Mikel Ortega.

14 Responses to Horse Racing Is ‘Acceptable Abuse’

  1. “it’s not okay for me to break a horse’s legs at home, even if someone paid me a million dollars. But in a competition? Sure, that’s fine.”
    Exactly.

  2. THE MOMENT THE RACE BEGAN, I BEGAN PRAYING THAT THE HORSES WOULD SUSTAIN INJURIES. YET AGAIN THE INJURIES RESULTED IN DEATH TO A BEAUTIFUL “YOUNG” FILLY.
    HORSES ARE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS, AND SHOULD BE TREATED WITH LOVE AND CARE. MAN ONCE AGAIN TAKEN A KINDRED ANIMAL AND TURNED INTO A SELF SERVING OPPORTUNITY.
    I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT OWNERS AND TRAINERS, ETC. WERE IN THIS BUSINESS FOR THE LOVE OF THIS BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL.
    IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED WHEN READING THE STORIE(S) OF EIGHT BELLS. FROM THIS STORY, I WAS TAKEN TO MANY VERY UGLY STORIES OF THE ABUSE WITH RACE HORSES. NEVER IN MY WILDESS DREAMS WOULD I HAVE THOUGHT HOW TERRIBLE THIS INDUSTRY IS TO POOR HORSES. I AM APPAULD THAT THIS COUNTRY WOULD ALLOW THIS TO GO ON. ABUSE OF HUMANS AND ANIMALS ARE NOT THE FREEDOM OF MAN’S RIGHTS.
    THERE MUST BE CHANGES IN THE HORSE RACING INDUSTRY AS WELL AS THE SLAUGHTER HOUSES. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE, AS WELL AS SPECIAL NEEDS FOR CHILDREN ORGANIZATIONS THAT WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS FOR KIDS TO LOVE.
    AFTER ALL, DOESN’T A HORSE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED JUST LIKE YOU AND ME?
    I AM A FIRM BELIEVER THAT IF A PERSON WOULD DO THIS TO AN ANIMAL, THEY WOULD DO IT TO A HUMAN IF GIVEN A CHANCE.

  3. would’nt it be a great idea to have a restriction to how many horses an owner can bred in a year. maybe that would bring down the number of unwanted horse.

  4. I am embarassed to be a human being. The way we’ve been exploiting and abusing animals for centuries is sickening. We use them for our own selfish gains and then toss them aside when they’re no longer of any use to us. From wildlife to the alleged “sport” of horse racing, it’s all about pleasing whatever selfish desires humans seek. I read a comment on another website, pertaining to the welfare of race horses, from a 16 year old boy who said we’ve earned the right being on the top of the food chain to use animals, just as the Bald Eagle earned the right to eat snakes. That boy has got a lot to learn! Animals in the wild work off of instinct and don’t make rational choices when it comes to food. Not to mention, they aren’t tormenting those animals for their own entertainment.

  5. What you don’t understand being an outsider in racing is that biggest issue is we do not breed for soundness any longer. Eight Belles sire, Unbridled Song consistently throws horses with soundness issues. They are weak in the front end. Yet his book of mares is still full every year. No trainer wants their horse to break down. The thoroughbred industry is trying to help this issue by the use of polytrack etc. You can say what you want, but those racehorses.. especially ones like Eight Belles, Barbaro or this years Rachel Alexandra. They love to run. You can’t stop them.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHqYW7xOsIo That rider is doing all he can to try and hold her back. I agree we do treat some racehorses terribly especially at the lower priced racetracks. However at Eight Belles level with that class of trainer, they are treated like royalty. You really have no idea.

  6. I don’t doubt that Eight Belles loved to run.

    I just think she should have been able to run without a human sitting on her back pushing her to go faster, without humans gambling on the outcome, and without humans willing to kill her because they’re not interested in spending the time or money to rehabilitate her.

    That, and I don’t think she should have been bred for death, as it appears she was:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/06/opinion/ed-horse6

  7. I’m not an outsider at all, actually. For almost three years in high school and after I worked at a race barn (Quarter Horse, but the track has both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races), which in my opinion makes me an insider. I was also on my way to getting an Equine Science degree from Colorado State University before I had a chance of heart. I well understand the breeding industry. I’ve also heard what the industry had to say about Eight Belles, and a lot of people in the know seem to believe that we are breeding the horses for a standard that makes them more and more delicate. Perhaps before you assume that no animal rights supporter could possibly know what they are talking about, you should ask.

    By the way, no one is debating that horses love to run. I have my own horse, an Appendix gelding – by a racer actually. He loves to run. He adores it actually. And he can do it all on his own, or for fun with me. He loves it just as much when he’s not doing it for some human’s profit. Horses do not have to have a human on their back to run. They do not need tack, or a jockey or a whip. They are actually hindered by all these things. So if the horse’s pleasure at running is your only thought, then perhaps you should rethink your argument.

    ~ Recent blog post: “Extremism”? ~

  8. I also see some of the bits used seem to be pretty severe. I have seen pics of horses with their mouths cut and bleeding. That hurts me to see these animals whipped and abused.

  9. Also, what alot of people do not realize in big barns and stables many times a mare is bred that isnt anywhere near “race” quality, for the sole purpose of helping the “race quality” mares with their foals. What happens to the foals of these mares?

    Another huge issue is these horses are babies still when forced to train and run. a colt or filly doesnt become a stallion or a mare until 5 years of age. Why are these horses not allowed to even reach maturity when they would be faster better trained and fully developed.

    All around horse racing needs some SERIOUS changes, in ethics, Breeders and trainers need to reevaluate themselves as human beings and SEE beyond dollar signs and start seeing the horses.

  10. its sad so so so sad

  11. This is the main reason I became a vegan. Horse racing is just one example of humans trying to dominate and exploit a species. S

  12. i recently went to world equestrian games in lexington.i got to see tiznow in person, you have NO idea how well these athletes are treated. i think horse racing is a great american sport. it brought us hope and inspired us during hard times. i think you should compare bad and good equally before stating such strong things.

  13. We don’t want to get rid of the industry but we would like to make some changes that would better the industry for all involved. With delaying training until the horses are fully developed, putting stricter punishments on drug regulations, changing tracks to safer synthetic surfaces we could make a huge difference. To find out more information and how you individually can make a difference visit our website at http://www.wix.com/jrhe227/jaccd15.

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