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Horse Racing: Is it Cruel or Not?
 By Chris Antley Memorial   •   11th Jan 2010   •   10,223 views   •   17 comments
I have been a horse fanatic for almost 6 years now. I am very blessed to witness horse racings historical moments.

In 2007, I watched Rags to Riches beat the champion male Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. I also watched Curlin win the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic. In 2008, I saw Big Brown win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. I also saw the undefeated Zenyatta win the Ladies Classic. And also, Curlin winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup becoming the #1 all-time North American money earner, being the only horse to win over 10 million in earnings. In 2009, I saw the long-shot Mine That Bird win the Kentucky Derby, the filly Rachel Alexandra win the Haskell and Preakness Stakes, and Summer Bird win the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes. And I saw Zenyatta win the Breeders Cup Classic.

Also in 2009 I was able to go to a racetrack for my very first time. As a 16th birthday present I went to the Saratoga Racetrack. I got to see Kent Desormeaux, Calvin Borel, Johnny Velasquez, Edgar Prado, and more. I also got to meet Mine That Bird's trainer. I was able to get a picture with him and his autograph.

From 2007 to 2009, I have not only been able to witness historical moments, but sadly I have seen racing's tragedies. In 2007, I saw the European horse George Washington break down in the Breeders Cup Classic. In that year also, I followed the news with Barbaro after he broke down in the Preakness Stakes. In 2008, I watched the filly Eight Belles be put down after breaking down in the Kentucky Derby. And in the Belmont, I watched in horror and shock as I saw Big Brown be pulled up on the top of stretch. And still to this day I can hear the words of the track announcer as he called in disbelief, "And Big Brown has been eased at the top of the stretch." Again, in 2009, I witnessed tragedy. I saw Wanderin Boy being pulled up in the Cigar Mile and later put down.

I am not hear to brag about myself, but to tell you that all sports have their tragedies. Ever since I became involved in the Sport of Kings, I have heard people say that, "Horse racing is a cruel sport," or "They shouldn't be racing horses so young."

In my opinion, its not the sport that is cruel, it is the people within the sport that make it that way. Not everyone in horse racing is cruel and yes some things should be changed. Horse racing is learning from its mistakes. Because of the tragedies over the years, it has looked into more ways of making it safer for both horse and rider. For example: poly tracks and the ban of steroids.

Like I said before, every sport has its tragedies and every sport can be cruel. Some of you may think the using spurs or a whip/crop may be cruel. Those tools/aids weren't made to be cruel. They were made to help reinforce your natural aids. Unfortunitly, in the wrong hands, like someone who doesn't know how to use them properly, they can be cruel.

For example, a car may appear to be harmless, but once someone who has been drinking or if someone falls asleep behind the wheel, it can become dangerous.

What I am trying to say is that the sport itself isn't cruel, its people within it or a book, fork, butter knife, bottle, etc. can become dangerous depending on who is holding/using it.

Some of you may still think that horse racing is cruel. That is fine, its your opinion. I am not writing this to change your mind about it, but to open your mind to the fact that "everything" can be cruel and dangerous.

To tell you the truth, I believe that cross-country, harness racing, bull riding and steeplechasing is cruel and dangerous. However, I am not going to force my opinion on you and say that you are a bad person because you like or do that sport.

The tragedies of horse racing are very sad and tragic. Nothing can take away the horror of seeing a horse break down or get injured, but it happens...its life. Yes, it probably could of been prevented, but people have to learn from their mistakes. In my opinion, if it wasn't for Eight Belles, people wouldn't be looking into different kinds of surfaces for the tracks and banning steroids. If it wasn't for Barbaro, we wouldn't be finding a cure for laminitis.

So before you permanently marked down a sport as being cruel, think of all the good things it has to offer and how it is learning from its tragedies and mistakes.

So now it is up to you to determine if a sport is cruel or not.

I hope I made some sense in this article. I have a difficult time writing what I actually want to say.

This article wasn't written to start an argument, so please don't start one.

Thanks so much for reading!
~Chris
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Staffi  
The big problem with racing is that they start training and riding the horses way too young, long before their bones have grown enough to be able to handle it. This is the #1 reason why we see so many horses break down. They ruin the horses long before they start racing them, just to save time, cause time is money. If they would wait 1 or 2 years longer, we wouldnt see as many accidents as we do now. I say, are the horses lives not more important than the sport, fame and money ? At the moment, sadly, obviously not.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,002 views
 
Suffolk Rose Stables  
I agree with Staffi. It is the only reason why I have ever conceded horse racing cruel. Though I know it is not. Then again I am looked at weird when I start Training and riding my horse at 2 years old. I agree with you as well Chris. With out the mistakes and people willing to learn to fix them it would be worse like it was long ago. I want to thank you for your point of view and I am glad you shared it.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  4,992 views
 
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Staffi - You made a very good point. A lot of owners and trainers are in it just for the money and fame. However, there is just as many who are in it for the horses and their love for the sport. Secretariat's owner is a great example of that type of owner. During an interview with her about the new Secretariat movie coming out she said that she wants this movie to show everyone that it isn't for the money and fame. This sport is about the horses.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,015 views
 
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
Amazing article Chris ! You have points from each side, and facts to back up what you said. I agree with everything you have said.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  4,989 views
 
MissSpirit  
Not Cruel
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,029 views
 
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
You both made great points. I found an answer for your point about how their bones aren't fully developed. Bloodhorse wrote an article and has videos out about, "Losing the Iron Horse." They say that the horses today aren't as strong as they were years ago. In my opinion it is the breeders who are breeding fragile horses. Some breeders are breeding just for the speed and champions. They should put that aside and breed for the strength and durability. Here is the link to the video: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/videos/watch/542d998b-3778-435f-9416-c56e79c1ddff
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,015 views
 
Apple Tree Farm  
I feel that it is cruel because they start traing at 2years old and there bones are not devolped enough. Also whipping them isn't fair they try there hardest. And when they are lame or not wanted any more they are sold on some for meat and others to homes but many are forever broken and why shoul this cruel sport be alowed if they did it to humans many people would have something to say.. I don't wish to start an argument but that is what i think and it will never change.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,012 views
 
Rose  
I worked at both Pimlico and Laural Race Cource in Baltimore Md. for over 10yrs. but over all they have Vet care and food every day to where I see starved horses out in some ones field so it is just like any other sport and to be honest how many people have ridden their horse on a trail and their horse gets really hurt is that crule
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,032 views
 
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Apple Tree - I fully respect your opinion and I understand why you feel that way. About the bones not being fully developed, look at the link I provided in my comment below yours. In my opinion, jockeys use the crop because since their stirrups are up higher they are unable to kick and ask them to go. Rose - Wow, 10 years. I agree with you. Racehorses, in my opinion, have the greatest care. They are constantly checked by a vet, even before races to make sure they are fit for racing(if not they are scratched), their groom is there 24/7 and they always have food to eat and plenty of exercise. Racehorses love running and they to love the excitement of it. An example is Zenyatta. She loves what she does and when the finish line comes, her ears are forward.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  5,015 views
 
Specky  
Amazing! I have been waiting fot this, just a few months ago I was talking to a friend and I said "Do you like the racehorse Rachel Alexandra?" They replied "Horse racing is cruel." I don't see why they said that they've never seen a race or they think it's cruel to because the jockeys have crops. Thank you for posting this Chris.
  Jan 11, 2010  •  4,994 views
 
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Black Hauraki - Wow, you made an outstanding point. I have never thought of it that way.
  Jan 13, 2010  •  5,015 views
 
megan  
The reason for all the tbs breaking down is because they are so young and their bones arnt fully developed yet. They race standardbreds at 3 instead of 2 and they end up being able to race longer. And i think that horse racing is crule because most of the race horse owners run the horses down until they are done then send them to the slaughter house. And that happens alot with stbs to because ppl think that they arnt good for anything but racing.
  Jan 14, 2010  •  5,008 views
 
ashtashley  
Trial and error is the key to everything. I am against things that the whole perpose of the sport or whatever it may be is to ingure somebody or something. Boxing, for example, I'm not a fan of. The goal is to knock eachother out. While the goal in racing is to run. Nobody's intentions were "Let's find a track that Ruffian or Barbaro will hurt themselves on". Also, whether the horse is young or old, accidents will happen. You can't bubble wrap the world. Driving a car and you lose control and you pop a tire. Have to desetroy your car. When you get a new car, you learn from your mistake and you take percautions. Same with racing. Ridings dangerous, being around horses can be dangerous, flyings dangerous, drivings dangerous but it's something we do anyway. Do we give four year olds a kitchen knife, no, but do we never let them use one when they're fourty? Anyway, got carried away, my point:Life happens.
  Jan 15, 2010  •  5,040 views
 
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Ashtashley - I am glad you got carried away. What you said in that little paragraph, I tried to say in my article. Like I said in my article, I have trouble writing what I actually want to say. I love the point you made. Haha, you should of wrote this article for me. xD
  Jan 16, 2010  •  5,015 views
 
barnabee  
i think that horse racing is over rated, and hurts the horse!!
  Jan 16, 2010  •  5,023 views
 
Pink Pony  
i don't think racing is cruel but many people say horses do it for fun but the truth is that they do it because they think their is something to run from, in the wild the slowest horse would be the one the predetor caught. but its not cruel and the horses don't seem upset by it so i don't think its that bad.
  Jan 23, 2011  •  5,015 views
 
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  5,017 views
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