Woo! Do we have a LOT of opinions being thrown around here, by people who've never been on the track. ;) I used to ride/train racehorses and OTTBs with a jockey, and have been 'backstage' on the philly race track plenty of times. So I haven't just talked to people or watched the internet; I've been there.
I kinda think that if we let them grow up more, we wouldnt see tragedies like Eight Belles, Barbaro, Ruffian, etc. Furthermore, im not sure if this was true or not.. but I heard that Steroids are "not illegal" in the Race Horse world. That kinda ticks me off (if its true)... so the people who choose to -not- drug their horse probably wont have a winning horse.. either its mandatory, or against the rules in my opinion.
I'm sure some steroids are legal in racing--just like some steroids are legal in barrel racing. It's amazing what the barrel racers are allowed to take and still compete, so don't slam racing like they're the only ones. ;) Drugs usually play a BIG role in the smaller cheap races with the crap horses--they're on every thing imaginable; often times their nerves are blocked so they can't feel pain when they're running.
And for those who say "But they LOVE to run!!"
Some of them do love to run. Some of them love to race, love winning
and being in the front. And some trainers don't whip the crap out of them--as I recall, Seabiscuits FIRST trainer didn't like whipping horses and had fired jockeys for it. Seabiscuit was one of those horses who he couldn't figure out, and ended up trying the whip as a last resort--and Seabiscuits first trainer was a VERY Big Name kind of guy. He MUST run the circle. Counter-Clockwise. Always.
Not really. Horses run the turns on the left lead, and then switch to the right lead for the straights--so it's not like they're permanently running and beating down the same legs for one lead. And when they train, then breeze counter-clockwise, and warm-up and canter/jog going the other way.
And I've seen plenty of times when the horse didn't 'wanna', and the jockey ate dirt. ;) Running around a circle for a few minutes is probably kinder then the rollkur used on dressage horses for hours, or the western pleasure horses with permanently tight muscles, spur scars, and dead mouths.
Please correct me if im wrong... but Seabiscuit had awful conformation, not-so-hot breeding, etc.. but wasn't he retired from racing at the age of Seven? (grantid, yes, he died of a heart attack or something like that at the age of Fourteen) but my point being the horses of the past were a heck of a lot heartier, even with bad conformation. :p So.. what has happened since Seabiscuits death in 1949(?) I think a lot of it has to do with people breeding these race horses to be at their peak in the first 5 years of their life. Any years after that is a bonus... especially if they are worthy to stand as stud.
There were plenty of race horses being trashed, shot, and broken down on the race track--you just didn't hear about it then. It has always been a dangerous sport, for the rider and for the horse. There isn't that much wrong with the breeding of these horses--it's the training. (Take a look at funny cide--the gelding is still working on the track with babies, and he's seven years old and 'retirered.' For every horse like Barbaro, you can come up with THOUSANDS of horses who are old and are sound--take a look at all of the OTTBs in eventing!) Take a look at CJs post, I think she's got it down.
County: They do it because that's what horse fans and people want. People complain about it but spend millions betting on them and watching them on TV. Every time you spend a dollar or watch them on TV your supporting the system.
Incorrect. It has nothing to do with what 'fans want'. We want to see the Kentucky Derby... Not three year olds running. We don't care about the age! If we stopped watching the races on TV, trust me... they'd still be breaking them at one--if not more so then before.
Sarah murphy: how about instead of attacking the trainers that race these 2 and 3 year olds. You consider the tracks who write the classes?? Go get a racing program and check to see how much the 2 year old race goes for, then look at say a $10,000 claimer that is mostly filled with horses 5 and up and see how much they go for! Huge difference.
All the money to be made is for horses aged 2 to 4. So its not the trainers and owners to be blamed. This is a business and in order to make money you need your horses to race where the money is.
Again, incorrect. The trainers and owners are to blame! Horses are raced at such young ages because of the money involved in training and care. To keep a horse until he was three or four, without ANY knowledge of how he would race, is very expensive. Trainers and owners don't want to put out the money for a horse for three years (Imagine the food, vet bills, farrier bills, Etc. For just one horse, let alone hundreds!) only to find out that he is slow and hates running! Training horses at one is the fastest turnover for investments (and when you see what some of these horses go for--millions of dollars--you can see why it's an investment!), and therefore... the races are catered to the 2 and 3 year olds, because this is the time that trainers are going to be running most of their horses. If the horse can run for two years and make millions of dollars, who cares if he isn't sound at 5 years old? Is it really any different from GP dressage horses who appear on the international scene for two years and then disappear due to 'complications' (Read: stress related injuries because they were pushed beyond their limits)?
Horses are expensive to take care of--the faster a trainer can turn around and make profit on the horse, the less money they are going to lose.
I'll never agree to it, however--this the way the racing world works as of now.