Ethics of Horse Racing - Page 3

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Ethics of Horse Racing

This is a discussion on Ethics of Horse Racing within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Ethical rules of horse racing
  • Training race horses and ethics

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    05-07-2013, 04:17 PM
Originally Posted by alexischristina    
That might be true, Maple, for the trainers YOU work with but I think it's naive to believe that everybody follows the rules just because the people you know and work with follow the rules. Like in any horse industry there are rotten trainers, rotten owners and rotten riders. There are even people in the industry of drug testing and coordinating who are willing to overlook certain things- you cannot speak for everybody. My old farrier worked and lived at the big track here, has seen first hand some of the abuse and doping that happens. A friend of mine had a boarding barn full of race horses boarded in the off season and there was definitely some shady business going on.

It can be aggravating to hear stories from the 'other' side when you've experienced the good care, the responsible trainers, etc. but there are two sides to every single equestrian industry.
Excuse me if I come across rude..

Alexis, I have 14 years HAND ON experience working with racing in North America, UK and Ireland. I have been involved from backyard tracks through to some of the world's finest. My opinions and input is based on my experience, and I find it somewhat insulting you consider me to be naive when you are the one basing your opinions on hearsay or opinions from other people.. ever play telephone as a kid?

I have never tried to say racing is all unicorn farts and fairytales. I am well aware there will be dodgy dealings, as there are with all aspects of the horse industry. I have never tried to say that racing is without fault. Tell me this - if there is so much sweeping under the rug - how on gods name is Godolphin embroiled in such a scandal? If you know any basics of racing, you would know the power that they hold in the industry. Surely if ANYBODY could get away with drugs use it would be these power players?

It is not the trainers, owners or jockeys who make the rules - it is the relevant governing bodies who do. In the UK, its the BHA/Weatherbys, in Ireland its Horse racing Ireland, in France you have France Galop. They all have strict rules and regulations, and they, not the trainers, are the ones who enforce it. They are incredibly strict, even on quite trivial matters (try declarin a set of blinkers 2 min after deadline, it doesn't happen!). Heck even O'Brien was fined for not allowing a vet to look at his horse when it looked stiff - AOB wanted his own vet to do it, the horse was examined and the trainer received a hefty fine.

And yes I do find it aggravating - why don't we start a thread (just as examples!!) on how hard barrel horses are run, or how high show jumpers are made jump. Racing is the easy scape-goat for people to pick apart.
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    05-07-2013, 04:46 PM
There have been multiple threads talking about Barrel Racers, Show Jumpers, Dressage horses, Western Pleasure horses, Endurance horses... Racing might be an easy scape goat for the general public, but as far as informed Equestrians I think all disciplines are equally criticized. I am in no way discounting your hands on experience, just adding to the conversation what I have experienced and while it may fall under 'hearsay' it hardly qualifies as a game of telephone, given my experience comes from one reputable source.

I would never claim to know much about the inner workings of racing and the 'big guys on top', that doesn't mean that what I have heard doesn't happen where I am
    05-07-2013, 07:28 PM
I think there are things that should change in the industry. I think some of the drugs used are questionable but then again I think the same can be said for the drugs used in show jumping. Same can be said for the treatment of rodeo stock at some of the smaller time rodeos. Same can be said for the medical decisions and care that back yard owners give or don't give their horses.

A lot of my own issues come from the jockey clubs strict adherence to tradition. In some cases, such as artificial insemination and the weight restrictions on jockeys I think are detrimental to the individual and the sport. Those are not within the power of trainers or owners to change unless the all unify and the old guard of the industry are not going to do that any time soon in my book.

Racing gets put on a huge screen every year and horses are horses so accidents happen. When they happen they get major air play. If you had a camera to follow up on every horse that mis jumps and breaks a leg we would be discussing that. The triple crown gets probably 10 x the exposure of any other equestrian event. So, lots of arm chair equestrians and arm chair activists jump into the debate. Look at the trouble Hickstead kicked up and that was a true freak accident. Now imagine the trouble that would be if that horse had broken a leg or if they found out that the romneys doped their horse at the olympics.
    05-07-2013, 07:39 PM
Horse racing is a very unnatural thing for a horse to do. Jumping, Dressage, and Rodeo are also way out of the park of 'natural' for a horse.

I personally love horse sports (I'm on scholarship for one) and I see nothing wrong with them.
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    05-07-2013, 07:56 PM
Not a fan.

I tend to judge disciplines by the attitudes of the people involved, and I don't see caring attitudes in racing. Sure they all say they "love their horses" but so do the people on Animal Cops when they're having their animals taken away for neglect. Actions speak louder than words. We know exactly what causes the high number of accidents and breakdowns in racing (mostly racing too young) and yet the industry hasn't done anything to change that. I can think of many cases in other disciplines where the rules (or at least attitudes) were changed because of humane issues.

As for all the fancy care that racehorses receive, they get that level of care because they need it. The average backyard horse doesn't.

Another problem in racing that not a lot of people talk about is nurse mare farms, which deliberately create unwanted foals. It's worse than accidental over breeding they get mares pregnant with the intention of disposing of the foals once they're born. Sounds like people who care about horses to me!
    05-07-2013, 08:14 PM
I'm sure almost everyone in the racing industry loves their horses, but sometimes (a lot of times, especially now with the way the economy is) money speaks louder than love. There isn't one Equestrian sport that is 'natural' for a horse, even natural horsemanship is not natural, the relationship between human and horse is not natural, but we have to remember that the horses we live with today are not wild animals, they have been bred for their jobs and just because it isn't what they would do in the wild, does not immediately equate 'harmful'. I wish the entirety of the Equine industry was not so heavy on money, I think then you would see a lot of changes in all disciplines. Unfortunately that's just how it is.
    05-07-2013, 08:35 PM
Its PETA .. nothing doe to animals is correct. According to PETA owning an animal is bad.
Here is my view on PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals
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    05-07-2013, 08:40 PM
The only thing you can really fault (most of) the horse racing industry for is the young age horses are raced at. Most race horses receive excellent care, as do most barrel racers, eventers, and dressage horses. However, people just don't talk about the great care these horses get, rather, they talk about the horses that get weaned at two months, raced lame, starved, locked up in stalls 23.5/7, etc.

I do not believe in racing horses at two years old, their backs and knees have not yet fused together completely. Just as one example, my old instructor's daughter was offered a race horse training job, and the horses had to be cantering under saddle at age 1.5; she declined the offer. Obviously, not all race horse trainers do this, and not all race their horses at age 2, but the Kentucky Derby is held only for horses at age 3, as are a few other major horse races.

I would have no problem with the horse racing industry if they had limits on how young a horse could be raced- such as 6 years old. And if they had better rehoming places for OTTBs, there are quite a few that get thrown away.
    05-07-2013, 08:41 PM
Originally Posted by stevenson    
its PETA .. nothing doe to animals is correct. According to PETA owning an animal is bad.
Here is my view on PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals
Or PITA- like franknbeans said.
    05-07-2013, 08:49 PM
There are studies that have been done, that show and prove that a correctly conditioned and trained horse has healthy enough bone to be raced. This is not talking about running the horse to death. Racing is no worse than Barrel race, western pleasure in all breeds with un Natural head sets, and lopes that are almost trots, jumping, cutting, reining, roping, gaited horse moves, dressage . Etc... IF you look at a wild herd or look at horses in a pasture, they all will jump,cut, race , side pass, piaffe, and other dressage moves. They are all NATURAL movements in horses . SO what is Un natural ? Running ? Stopping, sliding , turning ? Nope .. all natural moves.

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