OK so you want to talk about sore bodies and volunteering to participate… lets take it one step further….. Is your horse a volunteer to the work you put him through? I am sure there has been times after a workout, training session, or show he was sore. Most likely, because you used the example of taking him to the vet lame. I realize horses can step on nails or in a hole and come up lame but most of the time a lameness issue is due to the work we put them through.
This is where it gets into a really subjective gray area, and we all have different places where we draw the line. I can tell you where I put my foot down, but I can't really explain it other than, well, it's what makes sense and sits right morally with me.
The events that tend to really use a horse up quick--horse racing, as you mentioned, or some of the futurities (cutting/reining/barrels) that put no value on longterm soundness, big lick TWH, halter, etc.--can't justify those. Ones that tend to have a more mild effect, like accelerated but manageable arthritis or something, well, I'm actually moving further and further away from that line of thinking. Just getting soft, I guess. Or burnt out and discouraged.
Have my horses gone lame? Yes, guilty as charged. But not from anything I directly did to them--I doubt they were ever more than passingly sore from even the roughest practice session. More like sport-facilitated bad luck. And I've spent probably a combined $10,000 on vet care for two of my hapless cripples, not even necessarily trying to run them again, but just to get them more comfortable....to no avail. Which is off topic in a sense, but also not. Point is, I'm caring them, trying to minimize the bad stuff that comes their way, and aiming to be as responsible as I can, which brings me to:
So with that said maybe you should turn your horse out and see if he volunteers…
They don't necessarily love
working, but I don't think they much mind it, either. Yes, this is a comparison between animals and humans, which is inherently flawed, but I tend to look at it that they have to work for a living the same way I do. They get housing, food, health insurance, retirement benefits, and protection with self-implemented labor laws...and in return, yes, they have to work.
I do know that ol' cripply gray loved barrel racing so much she'd run her heart out for it. I think a horse like that, that truly enjoys its job, is pretty rare. Doesn't mean she much likes me, or loves being ridden in general, but she did love barrels. And she still loves the thrill of just plain running so much that she'll gallop and buck and whirl around three-legged in the pasture.
I also know my horses trust me and aren't afraid of me--they'll come running for treats--so I think that says something.
Then about calves getting jerked. I think our definitions of “jerked” are different. Yes they hit the ground , but if the roper doesn’t pitch his slack then they get jerked a whole hell of a lot harder. That is when they get disqualified and fined. That goes for most rodeo associations.
I guess I'll take your word for it, but I'd still say that anything you've got something running fast, then pull it from a run to a dead halt, by the neck, and it ends up lying on the ground in a split-second motion, that contitutes a pretty rough "jerk." Now cattle and people are built differently, and I recognize that, but doing the same thing to a human would almost certainly break their neck and kill them.
And again, I've never seen anybody get DQ'd or fined, so either those rules aren't on the books or they just aren't enforcing them.
As for you’re the difference between "injured" and "harmed", I am just not seeing the difference, so call me stupid on that one..
A broken leg is a measurable injury. For the purpose of the study, I would imagine that minor to moderate cuts, bruises of all severities, strained muscles, and any assortment of bumps and scrapes that hurt like hell but aren't lasting....aren't injuries. And keep in mind that many things that cause pain and discomfort will not be readily apparent while the adrenaline is still coursing, and may not show up for a day or two. Further keep in mind that fear and stress can be as bad as or worse than physical injury. I've seen cattle drop dead from chronic stress.