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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

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        05-07-2013, 08:48 PM
      #31
    Started
    They are all natural moves until you put a rider on their backs. You don't see horses in the wild carrying 100 - 300 pound weights as they do all these things. I definitely agree that a correctly conditioned horse can do any of the above without issue to their bones etc. however at the age many horses are started for racing (and other disciplines) there is no way they can be 'correctly conditioned' because the issue is in their physical maturation / development.
         
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        05-07-2013, 10:01 PM
      #32
    Yearling
    I don't always buy the natural horse argument. Yes, horses in the wild don't carry people around on their back. Then again horses in the wild don't get vet care, farrier care, dental care or blankets when cold. Mother nature is her own kind of cruel mistress. Just because a horse lives in the wild does not make its life easier or safer than that of a race horse. Likewise, just because someone cares for a horse differently than you or I does not mean they care less.

    Edit to add: at the end of the day racing is a business. The ethos of animals as business can equally be applied to horses as it can to pigs. Most folks like horses more than pigs and thus the morals of convenience come into play.
         
        05-07-2013, 10:10 PM
      #33
    Started
    Exactly my point, which doesn't make sense broken up into two different posts
    It may not be the 'natural way' for horses, and I don't doubt that a TRULY wild horse (ie: not a mustang) would not fare well being ridden or even cared for in the way domesticated horses are. Horses are bred to be ridden, they are bred to carry out certain tasks, so you could argue that the 'natural horse' argument only stands for animals who are honestly wild. But this is veering off topic a little.
         
        05-07-2013, 10:58 PM
      #34
    Weanling
    But at the end of the day, rodeo is also a business. So is Olympic horse sports and any other horse competitions. I love rodeo and horse competitions, nothing wrong with them, but still they're just as much of a business as racing.

    Here's what I think. In any event involving animals like racing, hunting, rodeo, etc...everyone is going to try and find all the negatives within that industry. Because what's more interesting than a controversial issue? That's what gets people talking, our entire media is based off of bad news and issues. Whenever you turn on the news you hear tragic and "bad news" more than good news. It's what interests people more. And unfortunately people tend to focus on the bad things more than the good things about issues, and the bad stick out more and is talked about more. This is what is happening in horse racing I believe. People tend to focus on the bad rather than the good.

    I have to agree with Maple. Drugs in racing is well controlled with lots of effort, but that doesn't mean racing is 100% drug free, it's impossible. But it's controlled as best as possible and they're doing a good job at it. I think that there are less drugs used in racing than we think. Look at all major sports, there are performance enhancing drugs used. They're controlled as best as possible with a lot of effort, but there are still some present.
         
        05-08-2013, 03:57 AM
      #35
    Yearling
    Broken record alert for those who have seen some previous threads lol..

    Ponyboy - how do you know that I don't care about my horses? Those of us involved in racing didn't just wake up one day and say "i know nothing about horses but I want to work in horse racing to make money". You don't just wake up one day with the ability to train/ride a horse and do it successfully. I have yet to meet somebody involved in racing that has not climbed the ranks of kids ponies, pony club/4h, riding schools and up to racing. We all learned to ride just like anybody else - stemming from the initial love of the horse. Those of us who WORK sure as heck aren't doin it for the money - there is little financial thanks for the hours and efforts we put into it.

    Yes, I am coming across defensive, and I feel the need to be. You do not know ME or how I feel about my horses, I LOVE my horses just like everybody else on this forum, why would I be here if I didn't?.. because I am involved in a sport you do not approve of, does not make you any better than me.

    And yes, they do need this quality of care. It is the same quality of care MY horse needs. It is the same quality of care every horse needs. I see plenty of riding schools using 3yos for jumping lessons around here. Plenty of riding schools who's horses are tacked up 7am on Sat and used by numerous riders until 5 or 6 that night. Horses used by beginners because they are so crippled with arthritis they can barely move, still being used several times a day. It's a shame they can't avail of HALF the treatment the TBs get.

    My gelding, an ISH, gets regular visits from dentist, chiro, blacksmith - he's used as a hacking horse and solely for my enjoyment with no competition - he's still fully entitled to be at his healthiest and happiest. (I know this prob sounds odd since Im one of those racing people who doesnt care).

    As I have stated, the authorities do what they can and there is strict drug testing. With competition of ANY nature you will get the bad eggs - Waterford Crystal (Cian O'Connors mount at the Olympics who tested positive and they had their gold medal taken off them) Lance Armstrong (cycling), Marion Jones (track), Andre Agazzi (tennis), Ben Johnson... the list goes on and on and on. The drug testing in racing is incredibly strict, horses are subjected to random tests and winners are tested directly after a race. I personally have never met a trainer/owner/jockey who would willingly give a horse drugs that would enhance their performance or cover up pain. Not saying it won't happen elsewhere.

    As for the nurse mare farms - yup they happen. Can't argue that. So.... how bout them PMU barns.... ?

    I also want to touch briefly on the jockey issue - I can't speak for the entire world obviously but here they have gone very indepth into nutrition management for jockeys. They are holding lectures, private meetings and trying to advise all jockeys on what to do in order to maintain their weight in the healthiest matter. There are rules set up with minimum riding weights so that they can't be pushed to ride too light. The majority of jockeys are of a smaller stature anyway, and you would be amazed by the amount I have seen some eat. They work out, sweat and jog - so does my cousin who is a swimsuit model.
         
        05-08-2013, 06:53 PM
      #36
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maple    
    ponyboy - how do you know that I don't care about my horses? Those of us involved in racing didn't just wake up one day and say "i know nothing about horses but I want to work in horse racing to make money".
    Just like any other industry, it's not the people on the front lines of racing that make the big money. But just because you're not motivated by money doesn't mean racing as a whole isn't. And there are LOTS of people who do low-paying jobs because they like them.

    I actually just quit a job because I developed a moral issue with the industry I was in and couldn't continue to support it with a good conscience. I didn't become a jockey for the same reason (I'm 5'3", 105 Ibs soaking wet).


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maple    
    And yes, they do need this quality of care. It is the same quality of care MY horse needs. It is the same quality of care every horse needs. I see plenty of riding schools using 3yos for jumping lessons around here. Plenty of riding schools who's horses are tacked up 7am on Sat and used by numerous riders until 5 or 6 that night. Horses used by beginners because they are so crippled with arthritis they can barely move, still being used several times a day. It's a shame they can't avail of HALF the treatment the TBs get.
    No, all horses don't need the same care. Some horses don't need shoes or blankets or even grain for that matter. It depends on their breed, the climate they are living in, how much they are ridden and how good their conformation is.

    As for your comments about the riding school – yes, that's bad. I stopped going to one school because I didn't like how they treated their horses and it wasn't nearly that bad. I'm not sure how often our school horses were ridden but they got turn out every day and were definitely not left tacked up. We had 20 year old horses who were still sound. I know some trail barns are quite bad and I don't go to them for that reason.

    Quote:
    As for the nurse mare farms - yup they happen. Can't argue that. So.... how bout them PMU barns.... ?
    Old that's right, since those other people do bad things it's okay for you to do them too. How silly of me! In fact, now that I think of it, since there's abuse in every discipline that makes it all okay, doesn't it? Well that's a relief… Now we can all just accept all kinds of horse abuse and go on with our lives!
         
        05-09-2013, 01:46 PM
      #37
    Yearling
    *sigh* ponyboy...

    I have a feeling you are going to find fault with anything I post... simnply based on the fact that us racing people are eeeevil but here we go...

    It is a business, and every business is driven to make money to get by. For every Bob Baffert, Aiden Obrien, Luca Cumani; there are thousands of trainers who live week to week with little financial gain in order to do the job they love. The deciding factor in going into racing is the love for the horse. Owners can be a different story, some will do it for the horses, some for the money.. all of our owners genuinely care for their horses and make regular visits to see them. Unless you have taken the time to look at the incomings/outgoings of a trainer you can't just assume they are making plenty of money.

    As for not becoming a jockey... size means nothing. I've met plenty of young wannabe jocks who were about as useful on a horse as a noodle. I've seen hundreds of kids go through RACE and not be able to ride a barstool. Just because you are small, doesn't mean you'll get anywhere in the business.

    I also didn't say anything about all horses requiring rugs/blankets, shoes or feed... I said that all horses deserve the best QUALITY of care.

    The PMU barn point - I thought I was an obvious that unfort these things happen throughout the equine world. Nurse mares are not restricted to TBs, nurse mares are used for plenty of warmblood studs, ect. It's unfortunate but it's a fact of life that a lot of horses have a job, and a purpose of life. Much like many other domesticated animals... they aren't all backyard pets - that's just a fact of life when it comes to the equine industry.
         
        05-09-2013, 04:43 PM
      #38
    Super Moderator
    Racing in the UK, Europe and Australia is much tougher than in the US.

    I think that the US needs to sharpen up the racing industry.

    Absolutely NO drugs are allowed. This includes Bute and Lasix. This means that if a horse is just 'sore' it cannot be masked so therefore will not race.

    With all the modern surfaces racing still takes place on dirt, or mud if it rains. This is not a consistent surface and will wear on any horse's legs.

    All racing is done in one direction - never good for balance.

    The best thing about racing in the US and I wish other countries would follow, is having the outriders about the course and leading the horses down. If there is an accident they can be there fast to hold a horse with another horse in attendance to calm it.

    I find US racing boring. Little challenge of up and down hills, or running in either direction.

    Another thing about UK racing is that no horses are trained at the tracks, they are all in different yards and therefore get a greater diversity of work.

    Far, far less fatal race injuries if the two are compared.
         
        05-09-2013, 06:50 PM
      #39
    Yearling
    Quote:
    It's unfortunate but it's a fact of life that a lot of horses have a job, and a purpose of life. Much like many other domesticated animals... they aren't all backyard pets - that's just a fact of life when it comes to the equine industry.
    This contradicts your assertion that what you do is all about loving horses. They're not pets to you, they are a means to an end Which is okay provided that the sport is good at keeping a lid on abusive practices. But the racing industry is NOT good at this, and from what I can see they have no interest in getting better.

    As Foxhunter Points out, there quite a few differences between American and British racing, with many fewer accidents in British racing. Why then do Americans keep doing things the way they do? Why don't they emulate the British system? The only possible answer is that they don't care enough to bother.
         
        05-10-2013, 07:04 AM
      #40
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ponyboy    
    This contradicts your assertion that what you do is all about loving horses. They're not pets to you, they are a means to an end Which is okay provided that the sport is good at keeping a lid on abusive practices. But the racing industry is NOT good at this, and from what I can see they have no interest in getting better.

    As Foxhunter Points out, there quite a few differences between American and British racing, with many fewer accidents in British racing. Why then do Americans keep doing things the way they do? Why don't they emulate the British system? The only possible answer is that they don't care enough to bother.
    It contradicts nothing - because a horse has a job/purpose does not mean the handlers do not love them. You are just trying to make a point where no point exists. My daughter's pony has a job - its to teach and take care of my kid. If it isn't doing that job to the best of it's abilities, I have no need for it and it will have to find a home elsewhere. My horse has a job, it is to give me relaxation and "therapy" from my every day life... if I wasn't enjoying him I wouldn't keep him as it would not benefit anybody. Doesn't mean I don't love the pony or my horse..


    Foxhunter - just a quick one, in the UK/IRE horses do run on both left and right handed tracks. As far as I'm aware, and I may be wrong, in the US/Can it is always the same direction.
         

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