Horse Racing ...the sport of kings

lilodMay 4, 2008

the prestige and the money and the exitement! Who speaks for the horses?

Running far too young, running far too hard.

It is not an enterprise to "improve the breed", that's a rationalization, unless one turns up to be a superstar and survives the demands it seems exploitation to me.

Just look at the latest Derby: you are second and you are dead...

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Eight Bells was killed because she shattered her ankles, not because she came in second. The same would have happened even if she had won.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:12PM
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The point is not where the horse placed---the point is the horse broke down due to overuse at a too young age!

Running a two year old horse-----including all the training regimen-is done to minimize the money spent----and make money sooner. There are hundreds of horses that never make the grade---and went to the killers or worse---worse being left crippled for the rest of their life.

I owned horses for 20 years---had three colts sired by a high speed index Quarter horse sire---and was friends with a trainer who gave up racing horses due to the terrible toll on the animals.

It has been my considered opinion racing any horse under four years of age should be illegal.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 10:03PM
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It has been my considered opinion racing any horse under four years of age should be illegal.


These horses are worked too hard, too young. Horses, as large and magificent as they are at three years old, are really still babies. And racehorse training (riding) sometimes starts when they are still yearlings.

I don't think a horse should ever be ridden until after they have reached two and certainly not worked hard until they are in their third year.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:05AM
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I don't disagree that the race is too long of a distance, too early in the season and the horses are too young. Not to mention what the jockey's put their bodies through physically...

But the original post insinuated that eight bells was killed because she placed second, I just wanted to clarify.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:46AM
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Joepyeweed - I did not mean to imply Eight Bells was killed because she was second - second is a most honorable position in any sport - I meant that she was pushed too hard, too young and that this is the "standard" in horse-racing.
Thought I better clarify this.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 10:37AM
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I found this article in the morning's paper, it covers a lot of this topic

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 5:36PM
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While I don't think anyone is a fan of seeing a young horse break down on live television, there are a lot of horses breaking down in people's backyards all over this country. Those horses, on average, don't receive a fraction of the care of most racehorses.

You can say that racehorses, once they're "used up", go to slaughter. So do countless other horses. Go to New Holland or any other kill-buyer auction, and you are going to see a lot more than a bunch of broken down racehorses.

You can say that racehorses break down more than other horses. There are plenty of ex-racehorses competing soundly and successfully in a variety of other disciplines. There are also plenty of disciplines with their own dirty little secrets, bute-sound horses, rampant navicular, HYPP, etc. There are horses kept going for years on tons of joint injections, special farrier work, copious amounts of meds, and lots of other "maintenance".

You can say they're started too young. Take a look at the hunter/jumper futurity horses, the cutting and reining futurities, the TWH futurities, etc. Plenty of other horses are put into work at very young ages.

A quick glance at craigslist will reveal plenty of "pet" and non-racing horses in despicable conditions. Horses that haven't seen a vet, dentist, farrier, or a tube of dewormer in years.

While I don't think racing is above reproach, please let's not forget the only reason this outcry is happening is because ONE horse had a catastrophic breakdown on the ONE day she was live on national television in front of millions. Look at the insane amounts of pet dogs and cats turned into roadkill, euthanized in shelters for lack of homes, and left to suffer with no veterinary care in backyards all over this country.

If I had to come back to life as a domestic animal, I'd much rather take my chances as a racehorse than many other options.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:27PM
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I agree that Eight Belles is drawing attention to the racing world because the tragedy happened on the track at the biggest event in horse racing. If she had broke her ankles and was killed after the third race at Bay Meadows last week, few people would have given it a second look.

But Barbaro attracted recent attention, so much so that they did try to heal him for stud purposes.

I think the media attention is a good thing and will perhaps make the horse racing industry make some changes.

Take a look at the hunter/jumper futurity horses, the cutting and reining futurities, the TWH futurities, etc. Plenty of other horses are put into work at very young ages.

Actually many of those horses are not ridden until they are much older.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:35PM
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joepyeweed, actually, those horses I referenced are precisely the ones going into serious training as long yearlings and two year olds to be ready for futurities during their two and three year old years. Let us also not forget the halter and longe line babies who get worked even younger.

While it's not standard procedure to ride yearlings at most barns breeding for pleasure horses or more "average" show horses, there is a lot of money on the line in those futurities, and there are entire industries devoted to them.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 6:45PM
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They are breeding these horses to have lightweight skeletons which makes their ankles too small and weak.

Breeder don't care about health. They care about speed, they care about looks, they care about the "standard." It's a shame that the "standard" doesn't include health and longevity.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 10:04AM
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Honestly, the same could be said for just about any domestic animal breeding program. Purebred breeds of dogs and cats have long been known to be at much higher risk of various health problems. Other horse breeds and disciplines have their own issues, as well.

If you want longevity to be a factor in racehorse breeding decisions, races for older horses need to be more profitable. Maybe we need a "senior" Triple Crown. Encourage people to go to steeplechases and support them. Those horses are generally ex-flat racers, but race well past the average age of a flat racer. They aren't successful if they don't hold up. As long as the average person is only going to tune in for a Triple Crown Race, you're going to see horses bred to peak at three.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 10:44PM
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It is true that in the big money futurities and derbies such as the National Reined Cow Horse Assn Snaffle Bit Futurity the horses are two or three years old depending on the event.

The race horse industry is making changes, task forces have been formed. Steroids are being banned in many states (Barbaro and Eight Belles were NOT on them BTW) Racing surfaces are being changed to synthetics, many more changes are in the works, it is difficult though because there is not one body governing racing, each state is different.

Eight Belles was interred at the Kentucky Derby Museum on the grounds of Churchill Downs with a public funeral last Saturday.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 10:45PM
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Have you ever watched Animal Cops-Houston on Animal Planet. Every episode seems to show a horse being starved or abandoned. I was shocked at how people treat these creatures.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 8:39AM
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Yes, it is very upsetting.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 9:04PM
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This may sound stupid but its funny. When I was younger my parents used to take me to the racetrack all the time...we lived about 10 minutes away from Belmont. I used to get so upset when before the race they would "scratch" horses. I thought they were getting hurt and literally scratched by the riding crops and that they were too sick to run. Even though I now know better I still don't like going to the races. Although from reading the above I may not have been wrong to begin with.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 6:02PM
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I felt the same way when I saw the video on you tube of pets being rendered into pet food.

Yes I think horses have it better then dogs, curtainly cats, but its how you see it- but I'm happy I'm human, humans don't have to worry about anything really, expect maybe heart disease, or job loss.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:42PM
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We owned horses and ponies for twenty years---using them to help raise our sons in 4-H. I detest horse racing. Worse, however, is fox hunting/steeplechasing.

2 yaer old horses should be prohibited from racing. Their bones are still forming/growing and are damaged by the training regimin.

But, raising/training/feeding a horse is so expensive that the breeders/trainers/owners have to get a return as quickly as possible---and many would race yearlings if they could.

Breeders/owners often ruin a breed---horse/dog/cat/cow/whatever by concentrating on a small number of desirable traits and breeding for those traits. There is no way to prevent that.

The best that can be done is for genuine animal lovers to ignore the 'bad' breeders and promote the 'good' breeders.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:06AM
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First off I saw a post about Tennessee Walkers- I own TWH's and I just want to say there is no comparison to racehorses in the least. It is a completely different subject of cruelty I am assuming you mean soaring? I don't think it compares as soaring is mutilating.

But I do agree that Thoroughbreds are pushed too hard too early. But some trainers and owners do try their hardest to make sure their animals get the best.

Also someone posted some article that mentioned Barbero- my thoughts on that (and I know I am no vet)are I think the vets did a deplorable job on his legs and their mess up was why he ended up being put down. Putting that many screws in one leg seems like major overkill!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 12:50AM
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