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Do You Like Horse Racing?

Story ID:5025
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various usa
Year:2009
Person:Heather Moore
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I am grateful to Heather Moore who regularly posts on Care2. Her recent post-
"The Triple Crown of Cruelty" broke my heart. I wish that I could cross post it,
but sadly Care2 keeps on rejecting my attempts to connect- saying I have the
wrong password. Trying to resolve this problem has proved futile. I will just try
to make Heather's salient points here.

Truthfully, I have never been too happy with horse racing. I've seen too many
televised pictures of horses being hurt and ultimately put down. As per usual -
whenever animals are involved- man cares not a wit that they are often forced
beyond endurance and suffer for our pleasure and/or purse strings.

The owner of a filly who suffered a heart attack and died mid-race at Pimlico said
of his horse's death: "I guess that's part of the game." This was no game for the
horse who ran with all she had and died in the process. What a callous remark to
make.

I place horse racing in the same category as greyhound racing and the Iditarod.
All 3 "sports" in my opinion are examples of man's exploiting innocent animals
who would not normally engage in these enterprises-given a choice. How do I
know? Well, just take a look at the circumstances in which these innocent
animals find themselves. Greyhounds spend their lives training or running
races to make their owners hopefully wealthy -while most of their lives are lived
incarcerated in tiny cages. What kind of life is that for them? And when they
don't perform well or are spent, they are usually killed or abandoned. How's that
for gratitude? Another case of pure exploitation.

The Iditarod. Each year corporations sponsor these grueling races of many, many
miles in all kinds of weather and conditions with little rest. And each year
someone covets the winnings while some dogs have lost their lives from exhaustion
and injury. Why do we continue a "sport" in which animals suffer and die?

Now horse racing. If there could be some way to prevent accidents and injury-
which sadly causes many of these horses to be euthanized; if there could be some
way to keep malicious owners from purposely inflicting harm and death to their
horses for insurance purposes --it might be wonderful to see these magnificent
animals race.

Many of us became enamored with Barbaro who almost won the triple crown,
but sustained an injury to his leg in the Preakness Race. Now when I look
back on his life, I think - no, this beautiful horse's life was wasted on a race
track. I would have to say now that I wish that he had never run.

Today Heather in her post wrote that another Kentucky Derby week has ended
in tragedy. Raspberry Kiss collided with another horse and her injuries required
her to be euthanized. Stormalogy, the projected American Turf winner, fractured
his leg and he was also put down. Two beautiful horses gone and for what?

Friesan Fire had part of his hoof ripped off after the race began, but yet was raced
for the entire course anyway. His jockey was Gabriel Saez - the same one who
last year pushed Eight Belles beyond endurance with a heavy hand with the whip.
He got her across the finish line where she collapsed and later had to be put
down. (I've read recently that I believe England is contemplating a law which would
severely restrict the use of the whip in horse racing. May it pass. And may it be
copied in the US as well).

And though most of us have heard about horses like Barbaro and Eight Belles,
a reporter for the Philadelphia News remarked that many horses die in this
sport but their battered bodies are simply hidden from public view and often
sent to slaughter. I didn't know this. It seems that some of these owners extract
every ounce of blood from these beautiful creatures who they obviously only view
as a commodity rather then the beautiful living beings they are with basic needs
much like our own.

Heather admitted that growing up in Baltimore - near Pimilco where the Preakness
is run, that she too became caught up in the race-day celebrations which seemed
like harmless fun. But she now knows that horseracing is anything but harmless
and she wrote "Most horses used by the racing industry are raced too young, too
often, and on hard surfaces that practically guarantee breakdowns."

She notes also that veterinarians routinely give injured and ailing horses drugs
in order to keep them racing for as long as possible. These can mask pain or
make a horse run faster. Some of the horses eventually succumb to the pain
and often collapse right on the racetrack. Though the horse racing industry has
made some basic reforms since Eight Belles died --the use of drugs to keep ill
and injured horses on the track is still legal.

Peta has recently erected a headstone at Churchill Down to represent the 12,000
racehorses who are sent to slaughter every year. They have also placed 263
headstones to represent the known horses who have died on the track since
last year's Kentucky Derby. Each headstone represents the approximaely 832
horses who have died but whose names are not known. There is also a special
memorial to Eight Belles.

I think Elinor Israel's comment at the end of Heather Moore's post is an apt way
to finish our reflections on this "sport" called horse racing. In truth, I believe as
Heather and Elinor that it is no true sport at all:

"This is animal exploitation at its worst. One would think that the human
race has evolved enough to recognize that to be entertained by suffering animals
is unnecessary. It seems to me that humans are just getting dumber and
meaner. I have heard people say how much horses love to race and what good
care they receive. When I can actually hear a horse agree with this then- maybe
I will change my mind. Even if a horse could speak, I cannot imagine him/her
saying how wonderful life is to be shot full of drugs only to break a leg and be put
to death-all for the sake of entertaining humans. This is just another example
of why I appreciate animals more than I do most people."

Thanx Elinor for speaking up for those who can't and thanx Heather for a great
and illuminating post.