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Horse Racing Cruelty

Message Suzana Megles
I am grateful to Heather Moore who regularly posts on Care2.  Her recent post, The Triple Crown of Cruelty, broke my heart.  I wish that I could cross post it, but sadly Care2 keeps on rejecting my attempts to connect- saying I have the wrong password.  Trying to resolve this problem has proved futile. I will just try to make Heather's salient points here.

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Truthfully, I have never been too happy with horse racing.  I've seen too many televised pictures of horses being hurt and ultimately put down.  As per usual - whenever animals are involved- man cares not a wit that they are often forced beyond endurance and suffer for our pleasure and/or purse strings. 
The owner of a filly who suffered a heart attack and died mid-race at Pimlico said of his horse's death:  "I guess that's part of the game."  This was no game for the horse who ran with all she had and died in the process.  What a callous remark to make. 
I place horse racing in the same category as greyhound racing and the Iditarod. All 3 "sports" in my opinion are examples of man's exploiting innocent animals who would not normally engage in these enterprises-given a choice.  How do I know?  Well, just take a look at the circumstances in which these innocent animals find themselves.  Greyhounds spend their lives training or running races to make their owners hopefully wealthy -while most of their lives are lived incarcerated in tiny cages.  What kind of life is that for them?  And when they don't perform well or are spent, they are usually killed or abandoned.  How's that for gratitude?  Another case of pure exploitation.  
The Iditarod.  Each year corporations sponsor these grueling races of many, many miles in all kinds of weather and conditions with little rest.  And each year someone covets the winnings while some dogs have lost their lives from exhaustion and injury.  Why do we continue a "sport" in which animals suffer and die?
Now horse racing.  If there could be some way to prevent accidents and injury, which sadly causes many of these horses to be euthanized; if there could be some way to keep malicious owners from purposely inflicting harm and death to their horses for insurance purposes --it might be wonderful to see these magnificent animals race. 
Many of us became enamored with Barbaro who almost won the triple crown, but sustained an injury to his leg in the Preakness Race.  Now when I look back on his life,  I think - no, this beautiful horse's life was wasted on a race track.  I would have to say now that I wish that he had never run. 
Today Heather in her post wrote that another Kentucky Derby week has ended in tragedy.  Raspberry Kiss collided with another horse and her injuries required her to be euthanized.  Stormalogy, the projected American Turf winner, fractured his leg and he was also put down.   Two beautiful horses gone and for what?
Friesan Fire had part of his hoof ripped off after the race began, but yet was raced for the entire course anyway.  His jockey was  Gabriel Saez - the same one who last year pushed Eight Belles beyond endurance with a heavy hand with the whip. He got her across the finish line where she collapsed and later had to be put down.  (I've read recently that I believe England is contemplating a law which would severely restrict the use of the whip in horse racing.  May it pass.  And may it be copied in the US as well).
And though most of us have heard about horses like Barbaro and Eight Belles, a reporter for the Philadelphia News remarked that many horses die in this sport but their battered bodies are simply hidden from public view and often sent to slaughter.  I didn't know this.  It seems that some of  these owners extract every ounce of blood from these beautiful creatures who they obviously only view as a commodity rather then the beautiful living beings they are with basic needs much like our own.
Heather admitted that growing up in Baltimore - near Pimilco where the Preakness is run, that she too became caught up in the race-day celebrations which seemed like harmless fun.  But she now knows that horseracing is anything but harmless and she wrote "Most horses used by the racing industry are raced too young, too often, and on hard surfaces that practically guarantee breakdowns."
She notes also that veterinarians routinely give injured and ailing horses drugs in order to keep them racing for as long as possible.  These can mask pain or make a horse run faster.  Some of the horses eventually succumb to the pain and often collapse right on the racetrack.  Though the horse racing industry has made some basic reforms since Eight Belles died --the use of drugs to keep ill and injured horses on the track is still legal. 
Peta has recently erected a headstone at Churchill Down to represent the 12,000 racehorses who are sent to slaughter every year.  They have also placed 263 headstones to represent the known horses who have died on the track since last year's Kentucky Derby.  Each headstone represents the approximaely 832 horses who have died but whose names are not known.  There is also a special memorial to Eight Belles.
I think Elinor Israel's comment at the end of Heather Moore's post is an apt way to finish our reflections on this "sport" called horse racing.  In truth, I believe as Heather and Elinor that it is no true sport at all:
"This is animal exploitation at its worst.  One would think that the human race has evolved enough to recognize that to be entertained by suffering animals is unnecessary.  It seems to me that humans are just getting dumber and meaner.  I have heard people say how much horses love to race and what good care they receive.  When I can actually hear a horse agree with this then- maybe I will change my mind.  Even if a horse could speak,  I cannot imagine him/her saying how wonderful life is to be shot full of drugs only to break a leg and be put to death-all for the sake of entertaining humans.  This is just another example  of why I appreciate animals more than I do most people."
Thanx Elinor for speaking up for those who can't and thanx Heather for a great and illuminating post.   
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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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