Day: June 8, 2024

Horse races are a popular form of entertainment, drawing crowds in droves to watch a group of animals compete against one another. While horse racing is often seen as a sport of chance, a significant amount of skill is required to become a successful jockey or trainer. In addition, horses are subjected to intense physical and psychological stress that can cause serious injuries. One study found that 3 thoroughbreds die every day in North America due to catastrophic injuries suffered while racing. In an effort to minimize the number of horses suffering from catastrophic injuries, veterinarians and equine activists are calling for an end to racehorse racing. While national horse racing organizations may have their own rules, most adhere to a common set of guidelines. Jockeys are required to weigh in before the race, and horses must pass a drug test before being allowed to participate. These tests examine both saliva and urine samples from horses to ensure that they have not been injected with prohibited substances. After the jockeys have weighed in, they enter the paddock area where an official checks their identity. Then, the riders mount their horses and parade them past a steward before the race starts. The early races were match contests between two or three horses, but pressure from the public led to larger fields of runners. Early races were 4-mile heats, and a winner was determined by the number of heats won. Later, races were shortened to 3-mile heats, and it became more important for the rider to gain a few feet over their opponents to win the race. To accomplish this, a pacing gait was developed in which the front and back legs move together on the same side. The horse’s speed is increased by using hobbles, which are straps that connect the front and back legs to prevent them from “breaking stride” and losing ground. Racehorses are often abused, pushed too hard and forced to perform at speeds that are beyond their skeletal systems. Many horses are severely injured during races, and even those that survive may suffer from concussions, ligament damage, and respiratory ailments. These injuries often result in death, and the resulting deaths have raised alarms about the safety of horse racing. While donations by industry people and gamblers are essential, they do not cancel out the ongoing, often deadly, exploitation of younger running horses who will someday depend on those same donors for help. The sport cannot reform unless it addresses its underlying business model with the best interests of the horses as the top priority. Otherwise, the industry will continue to rely on those willing to donate while ignoring those who are not.

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