The Time For The Horse Race To Take A Leap Of Faith

horse race

The horse race is a spectacle that has long captivated the hearts of millions of spectators. But behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred racing lies a darker reality. Injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns and slaughter are all commonplace. And while spectators wear fancy clothes and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.

Like many industries, horse racing is evolving in response to societal shifts. Despite these changes, the sport hasn’t yet fully evolved to meet the needs of its most vulnerable participants.

To begin to do so would require a profound ideological reckoning at the macro business and industry level. This would include a commitment to prioritize horse welfare at every level of decision making, from the breeding shed to aftercare. It would also include a full-scale restructuring of the sport, including caps on the number of races each horse can run and a limit on their number of years in service. It would involve implementing a wraparound, industry-sponsored aftercare solution for all racehorses. And it would involve embracing a more natural and equine-friendly lifestyle for racehorses once they leave the track.

While some in the racing industry may think this is impossible, the truth is that these steps have already begun to take shape. New safety technologies such as thermal imaging cameras have improved horse and rider health, MRIs, X-rays and endoscopes allow for early diagnosis of injuries and illness, 3D printing can produce casts, splints and prosthetics, and racing is now more focused on reducing the risk of catastrophic injury through the use of whipping devices that are less severe than those used in the past.

These improvements are a result of growing awareness of the dark side of horse racing. It’s no secret that the industry is losing fans, revenue and race days due to a declining interest in gambling activities. And new would-be fans are turned off by the countless scandals involving doping and safety.

As a result, the horse racing industry is beginning to make serious inroads into reform. Nevertheless, these efforts are only a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed. The time for the horse race to take a leap of faith is now.

There are essentially three types of people in the horse racing world. There are the crooks who dangerously drug and mistreat their horses, the dupes who labor under the false assumption that the sport is generally fair and honest, and the honorable majority of horsemen and women who know the industry is far more crooked than it ought to be but fail to give their all to correct it. It’s from this third group – the silent majority – that serious reform must come. It’s the only way to ensure that Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan and all the other horses who have had to sacrifice their lives for a sport that should have known better will not be taken from future generations of young horses.

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