The Dark Side of a Horse Race

A horse race is a sport in which horses compete in groups, often on the same day and at the same track, to win a prize or money. This is one of the most ancient of all sports, originating in the Middle East and later catching on in Europe. It evolved from a game in which horses were attached to two-wheeled carts or chariots. By the nineteenth century horse racing had become a serious business. People began betting on the outcome of races, and in 1831 this was formalized into a system known as pari-mutuel wagering, in which those who place winning bets share the total amount of the wager pool minus a percentage for the management of the racetrack.

Modern horse racing is more than just a sport; it’s also an industry that profits from the sale of Thoroughbreds for both racing and breeding. As such, it’s a for-profit business that has no responsibility or accountability for the thousands of horses it creates and then abandons once they’re finished with their careers. In this way, horse racing is able to profit from the life of the horse and then dump them into an endless conveyor belt that leads ultimately to slaughter.

The plight of these once-famous animals is the dark side of horse racing, and it’s a side that is becoming increasingly exposed as more and more horse lovers learn about it. This awareness has fueled an increasing movement to ban horse racing, but it has also led to increased improvements to the way that races are run and on the conditions of the horses themselves.

For example, there are now more horses at the tracks that use a more comfortable padded saddle that’s designed to reduce pressure on the horse’s back. And, there are now more racetracks that require riders to wear helmets that are designed to reduce the chances of a catastrophic head injury.

In addition, the veterinary care of racing horses has been improved significantly. Most important, there are now more trained equine veterinarians than ever before who are skilled at identifying and treating a variety of illnesses and injuries. Nevertheless, the racing industry has a long way to go before it will have a truly world-class system of horse care and safety.

In the meantime, fans of horse racing can support its improvements by supporting the racing groups that are working to make the sport more humane for the countless horses that it creates and then abandons. To do otherwise is to support a system that is inhumane and unsustainable.