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Horse racing: Is it humane?

Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008, at 2:43 PM

Better late than never, I guess, to comment on the fiasco at the end of last Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Some have said, more or less, that fallen filly Eight Belles was abused and whipped or on steroids.

I've wondered how hard those whips used by jockeys are felt -- and if the horses really, as some claimed post-race, get "up" for the crowd.

One comment -- that "Eight Belles gave her life to entertain us" particularly irritated me.

I realize race horses are expensive investments (let's hope owners see them as more than investments) and are to some extent pampered.

But, if those horses are being abused, then what's the difference between horse racing and chicken/dog fighting besides fans' affluence and governments' acceptance?


Comments
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The whips are felt, they are not for show. Go by a tack store and try one out. Why use it if it is not felt?

I don't particularly like horse racing, but I don't have big issues with it. I would guess there is a fair amount of cheating as in any sport. I would think there is more abuse going on in the horse industry in our own backyard than in the racing world, but I might be wrong.

I completely disagree with fighting animals of any kinds. I consider it uncivilized and irresponsible.

As to whether or not the jockey felt Eight Belles's injury, I don't see how he could just stop on the track without risking injury to the other racers. From what I saw she didn't appear to be in distress until she fell. I don't understand what happened. Hopefully an investigation will shed more light on it.

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 3:13 PM

I care much for horse racing but I love the Dog Races. Of course no one is riding or whipping the dogs they are just running after the rabbit :>)

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 4:27 PM

There is an element in fighting that's different from racing.

(Think track versus "Fight Club".)

When any beings (human or not,athlete or not) are pushed beyond the limits of their health for the amusement of others,it's a return to the era of bread and circuses.

Taking those same beings' natural gifts and honing them with care and training that *improves* their bodies and enhances their God-given abilities is another matter.

Accidents and unforeseen maladies can claim anyone at any time.

That's an unfortunate part of life.

But when the student athelete is destroyed by steroids,a horse is crippled by soring,the greyhound is slain when it can no longer race and the stock car driver gets more attention for going into the wall than for engineering a safer,more efficient car,then we are indulging in bloodsports as unprincipled as cock-fighting,bear-baiting,etc. even without the added seasoning of hate and violence.

I'd even add the fashion shows that require anorexia and the "reality" shows and tabloid programs that feed off of people's tragedies and abasement.

Any time someone else is "thinged" so we can get our kicks is a sin.

Most times,it is also a crime.

It is especially shameful when the ones who suffer most have no choice.

Put it all on a continuum with theft,rape,murder or any other act that puts one person's gratification ahead of another's welfare.

We can have sports that emphasize health,teamwork,and personal excellence and celebrate those who perform.

Anything less doesn't become appropriate when one adds fancy apparel,corporate sponsors or catered parties.

How are chicken and dog-fighting different from horse exhibitions where the horse is abused?

At least,the people who force one beast to slay another figure they need to conceal their behavior from those who object to selfishness and cruelty.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 5:02 PM

I agree . . . horse races never benefit the horse itself.

Would you do to the same to a human?

The same could be said for the horse show here to a lesser degree though.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 6:17 PM

ok after reading these comments again including mine I hope you guys realize I left out the word "Don't" which means it should have read I don't care for horse racing :>( sorry :>(

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 8:11 PM

I kinda guessed that,Dianatn. ;)

jaxspike is right.

We should do unto others as we'd have done unto ourselves.

Forgive me if I don't hold my breath until horses subjected to whips,chains and topically applied ginger are required to be over eighteen,sign a waiver,have a back-up team and recite a safeword when things get uncomfortable.

If we do start demanding similar standards of treatment for horses and humans,maybe it will become a federal offense to put people in agonizing shoes.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, May 7, 2008, at 10:24 PM

I could sure go off on a rant about this subject, but I will try to keep it brief.

In my opinion horse racing and most types of horse showing is not humane. My opinion has to do with the age that they begin to use horses to compete. In the show/racing world horses at the age of 2 or at the most 3 are being competed with as if they are finished growing, which they are not. The result is these horses are worn out by the age of 10 and usually much younger than that. A horse will usually have a lifespan of 25-40 years depending on breed and care given.

The above mentioned opinion does not even include the abusive practices used to train or increase performance in show/race horses. How any person could think this is humane is beyond me, but I own my own horses, I start riding them lightly at 4 and slowly build up, do not show or compete and I pretty much go by this saying concerning these matters: "You ride your horse and I'll ride mine".

JMHO,

William

-- Posted by HorseGentler on Thu, May 8, 2008, at 8:45 AM

I agree completely.

Unfortunately,most people have scant knowledge of animal-based industries and the Walker hasn't had its Dick Francis,

Walter Farley,Marguerite Henry or Rita Mae Brown to even explore the human side of the equation.

Perhaps we need to bring back authors like Anna Sewell and Albert Payson Terhune to give children a sense of empathy for animals (and not just pets or endangered species).

As corny as such efforts can be,they keep our souls and our recognition of Nature from atrophying.

Once we stop caring about one set of lives and feelings,it's easy to dismiss them all.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, May 8, 2008, at 11:41 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.