Is Horse Racing Cruel?

An insider points out some things you may not have realized about the Horse Racing Industry, in an attempt to inform people about what really goes on at the race tracks.

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This is one of those impossible questions to answer because first you have to establish the definition of “cruel”. Unfortunately everyone has a different interpretation of this word, and ultimately view what others do as cruel, and what they do as not cruel. The fact is every year hundreds of horses will loose their lives as a result of breaking down on the race track. Rather than using this article to define cruelty I will simply point out what I feel is cruel in the horse racing industry from an insiders point of view. I have worked with horses for many years.


Horse racing is different world wide. In the United States, and Canada, for example, horses are kept pretty much at one race track for an extended period of time. These race tracks are typically located in urban areas thus not allowing any pasture, or riding space other than the tract itself. Thus the horses are kept in their stalls for the greater part of the day, I will refer to this below.

In other countries such as England the horses are kept mostly at home, shipped to race meets which generally are around 2 weeks long. These tracks are in rural locations allowing areas for riding. The horses are often outdoors more of the time and have a generally better enjoyment of life. If you have attended a race meet in the United Kingdom you will notice right away that the riders are not “ponied” to the starting gate in the manner they are in North America. The riders seem to trust the horses a bit more, an indication that they are ridden more frequently and independently of racing and training.
The race tracks themselves are much more “humane” in the UK, being longer, no tight corners, they are often straight, or varying direction, grassy, and so forth. Whereas the typical North American track is always a counter clockwise oval.


Race horse owners and the industry itself, push to get these guys on the track early. Regardless of actual date of birth they are all considered to all have the birth date of January 1st of the year they were born. So if a foal is born in June, it is considered to be 1 year of age in January. There are races for 2-year-olds. In an eager attempt to get these youngsters on the track they are saddled and ridden as yearlings, something not done in any other discipline. Many Warmbloods, horses commonly used for jumping, are not even ridden until four or five years of age, much less pushed to their maximum capacity.

The races for two year olds are short distance races. This is actually very hard on them because they are sprinting which is hard on a young horse.
One thing that is apparent, is that in North America horses do not have as long of a career as in England or other places. In England it is not uncommon to see active race horses over the age of 6, however, in North America these horses stand out and are often discounted because of age.


This is a big point. The main problem here is that when a horse remains in a stall for a good part of the day, its bone density deteriorates, thus the bones become weaker. In my opinion this is probably the biggest reason for so many horses breaking down on the track. Yes, I would call this cruel, because we have predisposed the animal to being weaker and then ask it to run full out on weakened bones.

There are two main reasons why race horses are stabled for much of the day. One reason is space, race track stabling houses hundreds of horses, there is simply not enough space to have turn out pastures or pens for them in this situation. As I have stated, in North America, this means the horses are in their stalls for most of the day, for many months. The other, and more common reason, is that even if such spaces did exist, high energy horses would want to play, and playing is risky. Horse owners often do not want to risk their horse becoming injured, as such, the stall is a safer choice. Certainly more boring, but safer.

Race Horses are Not Pets

Race horses are not pets, they are status symbols and a tool to make money for their owner. Many race horse owners could not pick their horse out of a field, and it’s probably just as well, since many wouldn’t be able to put a halter on if they had to. The horse is a commodity to be used then sold. The horses are cared for by trainers and grooms.
It is a common misconception that race horses are treated like royalty. Very few are top dollar earners and those who are not, are flogged until they break down or are sold.

Thoroughbred vs Standardbred Racing

For the most part I do consider Standardbred racing to be much less risky to the horse in terms of stress and injury. Standardbreds are the ones that race with the carts behind them (not to be confused with Chuckwagon Racing). Thoroughbreds race at a horses top speed, the gallop, whereas Standardbreds race at a slower gait, the trot or pace. This means it is less stressful on the whole and as a result there are fewer injuries, even with the risks of legs being caught in the entanglement of the carts or collisions.
You must remember that not all injuries happen during the race, many stress related injuries show up after the race or during training workouts. Even these injuries are lower in the Standardbred race industry.

The Finish Line

So there you have it, I have scratched the surface and revealed some facts about horse racing you may not have considered. All things which exploit animals for people to profit off of, are all in some ways cruel, you have to decide how much cruelty you are willing to accept or support. By betting on racing a person is supporting it, because much of the purse money comes from the betting public and admission fees.
I would say to the person who likes watching horse racing, and enjoys betting on the races, but is conflicted by the feeling they are supporting a cruel industry, to perhaps switch to Standardbred racing, otherwise stay away from racing in general.


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  1. Neil McDougall
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    “In other countries such as England the horses are kept mostly at home, shipped to race meets which generally are around 2 weeks long.”

    Actually, most race meetings in the UK are only a day long – the bigger ‘festivals’ like the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, the 1000/2000 Guineas meeting, the Grand National meeting etc, they’re between 2-4 days in length. Some courses are ran at the same time every week at certain points of the year though – during the summer, Windsor racecourse runs a meeting every Monday night and Newmarket’s July Course has a meeting every friday night in the summer.

  2. Sue Garner
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I have personally walked ‘the rows’ of the smaller local style tracks and have witnessed horrendous treatment meted out by supposedly professional trainers/grooms. One shameful practice I witnessed was some horses being ‘fed’ day old bread- no grain- no pellets- no hay- nothing except the cheap day old bread that can be picked up at outlet stores. For those of you who may not be familiar with equine nutrition this is the equivalent of giving your car water and expecting it to perform at a NASCAR level. I swear this is the truth.

    I also saw horses with open running ulcers. I am an RN and I know untreated wounds when I see them.

    These horses at local tracks are often sold to meat buyers when they have out lived their usefulness, or do not perform at a level to make money. I purchased one such animal that was destined for the meat auction. A trainer I knew contacted me to see if I would buy the horse because he couldn’t stand to see such a nice horse destroyed for meat.

    BTW I did purchase the horse and he turned out to be a nice event horse with personality plus.

  3. Deanda
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Interesting information which I did not know.

  4. Marianne
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I enjoyed your article for the most part. As the owner of three ex-racehorses in the UK I can attest to a lot of what you say that many racehorse owners would not know which end of the horse to start at. My horses have come to me in varying states – my first racehorse who sadly passed away in February was sold on to me as a nervous novice and fortunately had the heart of gold needed to bring me up to his standard. We had eight wonderful years together before cancer separated us. One of my other current horses has been with me for just over six years having been found in an appalling condition in a dealers yard two weeks after he finished his racing career. I am happy to report we are now the best of friends and although we have our spats are generally happy. Another racer of mine was bought before his racing career officially finished and so was spared much of the passing around process. Unfortunately it did not spare him a hobday and tracheotomy operation before he came to me in an attempt to get a decent run out of him. He was only four when he came to me – too much, too soon. And lastly my wonderful little mare and the most recent addition to our family – with barbed wire cuts to three of her four legs and massive cellulitis she too has settled into a routine where daily turnout, trust, respect and understanding are key components of our relationship. Racehorses are treated like royalty whilever they are earning their keep. Unfortunately only God can help them when they stop.

  5. Kate
    Posted August 3, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I’m planning on going into the breeding industry, and articles like this always interest me. I think there needs to be a lot of reform done. I’m all in favor for turning racehorses out; yes, they’re going to run and play, but honestly, even racehorses who’ve been retired for years still do it; I know there’ve been a couple prominent stallions who’ve been put down due to injuries suffered in their paddock. I don’t think the risk of injury due to them playing while they’re developing normally is any higher than the risk of injury due to weakened bones from abnormal development. I think we also need to promote longer races for two-year-olds, and start racing them later in the year (when we have two-year-olds, who might not even be biologically two, racing in March, that’s cruelty).

    The problem is, everyone needs to cooperate on this. Breeders need to breed horses for soundness, not just speed (Storm Cat was one of the worst things to happen to the breeding industry, even though he’s a tremendous sire). Racetracks need to offer juvenile races later. Trainers need to be willing to take a stand in the interest of their horses. Owners need to get involved and understand what’s going on. Maybe then we’ll have a change.

  6. Joe Poniatowski
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Nice overview and very informative. Thanks.

  7. Posted January 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    to Hannah comment #7
    I have looked in some racing stables, even worked in them too.
    NO most racing stables in North America DO NOT have “paddocks” to put the horses out into. think about it 500-1000 horses in a stable – how many paddocks do you see? NONE – they go on hotwalkers for a while if not being ridden – thats about it.
    no horse “likes” getting whipped, who are you kidding?
    a fit race horse is not fuzzy like a farm horse, their hair is VERY thin!

    owners spend $10,000 or more on horses hoping they win, Many owners DO NOT even own a farm – so if the horse isnt racing well… its sold..dumped..
    by the way a $10,000 horse is considered a cheap claimer – so is ALWAYS up for sale every time it races, if you knew about horse racing you would know that too.

    many race horse owners could NOT pick their horse out of a group of 5-6 horses.. and other than standing in the winners circle, have very little contact with the horse. Thats the trainers, and groomers jobs…

  8. Jenna
    Posted January 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I find this article extremely interesting.

    I liked horse racing when I was little because I liked looking at the horses. Now I know better.

    I have a friend who works at a track and she absolutely loves horses so she does this for no pay. I don’t understand how she can be there and not feel awful. These horses don’t have any room to be free. They get walked or ridden once a day (usually walked), and are otherwise stuck in their stables. They get fed good diets and they get a lot of treats too which is probably the only good thing. They have one horse that, after she runs, she gets fluid and/or blood in her lungs and she has to rest or risk further injury or death. This happens every single time she runs yet they insist on keeping her running. Seriously? Who does that? If that same thing happened to a person when he or she ran, no one would allow the person to run anymore. But oh, when there’s money involved, morals all get put on the backburner.

  9. Barry
    Posted January 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Agreed completely; many owners could care less about the Mexican workforce that actually cares and loves these atheletes 24/7. The owners use T-breds as purely as a commodity as you well state. The grooms/hotwalkers live in deplorable conditions, paid little, worked to the bone, few if any bonuses, while the owners and trainers have no problem blowing 1 million plus on a horse prospect. In the USA, the owners can use T-breds as tax incentives/write offs since most are millionaires and billionaires. I worked in a well known USA racing stable and boy was that an eye-opening experience–yes the T-breds were lovingly cared for by the Mexicans, however, the trainers, ex-riders could of cared less about the real workers–grooms/foremen/hotwalkers. They were jiped pay wise, treated poorly, verbally abused, yet without the grooms/foremen/hotwalkers-these owners/trainers would not be racing. The only thing that matted was making money, greed, prestige, and status. Exploratory “surgery” on a 9 yo horse for the sake of racing it to the bone is ridiculous and soley suggests the greedy baby boomer mentality of many trainers. The USA cannot even get its act together with a real racing commissioner, banning ALL meds, etc…. because of GREEDY, baby boomers who will stop at nothing to earn a buck.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted January 14, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Do NOT believe the TV propaganda showing throngs of young white people, rich, limos, celebs, smiling faces in the Turf Club, Clubhouse etc….and large throngs of crowds during the KY Derby, Belmont, Preakness etc…all dressed up and “petting” their horsies. It is a joke and window dressing. Dog/pony show. Many owners do not know which end of the horse to feed–they care about $$$$, and tax write-offs.

    The “throngs” of people myth: Go to almost any USA track during a regular race day, and it is like a nursing home with very few patients. Elderly people blowing their SS check on the 6 horsie add in a few mental/psychiatric patients and you get USA horse racing fans. The “sport” is on lifesupport-and just got bailed out in NY a 100+million debt was wiped clean (tax payer welfare) because of the lost cause/failed business model of American horse racing. So the tracks persist with white collar welfare, few attendees, and the facade continues for the next 25 yr lease in NY. Also, Take a lovely tour on the backside and you will see a completely different story, not the posh, luxurious Turf Club featured on the TV, but human beings living in squalor, bathrooms with used toilet paper strewn around, broken sinks, no A/C, no heat, no running water, humans living in cinderblock “tack” rooms sometimes 3 immigrants to a room–no larger than a walk in closet–all to “work” for trainers and rich owners-who talk a good talk, but do nothing to help those workers–often stating that it is the patrons responsibility to help backside workers. There have been numerous health code violations, wage violations, overtime violations etc…. at many “famous” american tracks–however, given the huge immigrant work force–they are very afraid to speak to federal and state investigators–so the use and abuse continues at an alarming rate.

  11. Julio
    Posted January 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Television ratings are down, the prices on the auction horses is falling, no health benefits, and lay-offs galore–can the billionaires/millionaire owners help the people who actually work on the horses 24/7? We’re the one’s getting up at 4AM cleaning manure, brushing the $2.5million dollar Storm Cat colt, the one without health insurance, the one with rotting teeth because of no dental coverage, the one with diabetes, the one with a limp because of a horse related injury–we all knew the risks involved working with horses, however, the mistreatment of horse workers is appalling. Especially when the owners have more money than G-d. In our opinion, Horse racing for the most part in America is drug infested, ill-repute, slimy poorly paid worker disgrace–a rudderless ship without a leader with testicles, or people who have a backbone to do what is right. Instead they enjoy cocktail parties while the horse worker with rotted teeth, untreated diabetes, and a limp takes care of YOUR horses.

  12. Gary Vera
    Posted January 18, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    They pay practically nothing, yet work you 24/7, getting up at 4AM, sometimes earlier, all to play with horses?! The trainer/owner gets all the glory/money, and the workers get very little accept to clean yet another stall or put on another furasin sweat. That is why in America, you as the worker get used, exploited, and tossed aside. the apathy is outrageous. There is no outrage, there is no outcry, just plain old apathy and shrugging of shoulders—that is why most Americans get what they deserve–poor paying jobs, poor quality products, and shiesters/hucksters waiting to take your money.

  13. Hannah
    Posted January 23, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Most of this info is not true
    i found it interesting to read about how much you DONT know about horseracing
    i am a trainer of thoroughbreds and a driver of harness racers
    and most racehorses get the best treatment and whoeva that girl was who says she saw someone give a horse 2 day old bread thats not true the owner wants the horse to do good there not gunna feed it 2 day old bread racehorses get the beat treatment.and a trainer or owner gets fined if there horse runs with an injury
    andhere in australia if a owner or trainer doesnt have a good stable with good paddocks and all they do get there horses taken away all the stables in australia actually have a padock on them
    and btw horses DO have thicker fur working with horses for year i have actually found that racehorses have much thicker fur
    Racing is like any other sport things can happen a horse can fall and break itsd neck in show jumping or cross country or whateva what about barrel racing they carry whips a horse didnt want to do it they wouldent even if a pony doesnt want to do somthing it’ll fight you not to do it imagin what a thoroughbred would do if they didnt want to do somthing

  14. Denice
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I just have to say to Hannah (comment 13)

    I am a groom and we always feed the horses 2 days old bread. nothing wrong with that. They get other food too and the bread is a treat. but of course you are going to defend the sport which makes you money.
    As a groom I have NOT seen one instance where race horses have thicker coats, infact most race horses are groomed daily and with their hot work, it would be unreasonable to think they would have thick coats.
    In North America the trainers at home might have paddocks, but while the horses are at the track they only have stalls, there is no space for paddocks and most owners are too afraid of their horse getting hurt while playing to ever trust putting it into a paddock.
    I am not going to lie and say racing is cruelty free, its not.

  15. stardust
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I have something to say here. I am spending time in DC and there is a lot of talk about banning horse racing for good. I am going to do everything in my power to stop this cruel sport. These horses are nothing but money making machines for humans. It is pathetic! 70% of the general population is against this. We all need to get it together and tell Barack Obama that this sport has to stop! These horses are dying all of the time on the tracks, all for the love of money. These owners and trainers do not care about the horse. They only care about winning and money. It is my opinion that this sport is going downhill fast and it needs to keep on going that direction. I am sorry if I sound harsh but I have seen some pretty horrible things and horses have NO SAY in what they are forced to do. I am all for the banning of this sport. The sooner the better.

  16. stardust
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    The only people that are in the racing industry that I feel are decent people are the grooms and the people that take care of these beautiful animals. The owners, trainers, bettors, people that attend these events for fun or for money are nothing but a bunch of wanna be high class people. They are cruel, mean and arrogent. They care nothing about the animal. I know that when Barbaro and Eight Belles died it caused a fuss but you know what? Same owners and trainers are doing it again to horses even younger. They should be arrested for neglect and abuse. That is exactly what they are doing to these animals. When the horse cannot perform then what do they do? They give the horse to an auction or throw it over a cliff because it is of no use to them anymore. Why should they be? They are not making money for these greedy punks.

  17. daisy
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 4:11 am

    You know the owner of Eight Belles? I\’ll tell ya, this man is a greedy arrogent piece of crap in my opinon. If I had a horse that lost her life like that on the track, I would never want to race another horse again. These owners don\’t care one bit about their horses. They care about their reputation and it is mud. Most of society looks down on horse racing and it will soon be a thing of the past. There are just too many people that want it to end. The poor grooms that take care of these horses and get attached to them only to have them take a spill and get put down on the track for what? To see who can get around the track first? This makes me want to spit. I have no respect for anyone that owns or trains a race horse or even watches racing for the thrill of it. They are in-humane and should be treated the same way. They should be shoved into a gate with drugs in their system and forced to run. It is the people that are the problem. They are just as bad as people that are involved with dog fighting. They do it for the thrill. It will end and it will end soon. That much I do know. Then maybe these beautiful horses can really have a life away from these inhumane freaks. I am so glad that Congress is going to ban this sport. Put the owners and trainers in the barn and lock them up everyday and make them run when they don\’t want to. What a bunch of low life peices of sh**. I had to get this off my chest.

  18. Billy
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    How about banning work–corporate AMerica is cruel, forcing people to give up their lives 40, 50, 60 ,70,80+ hours weekly, Sat/Sun too. Ban work, it is inhumane, time away from your kids, your spouse, verbal abuse/stress from the bossman/woman, ridiculous work schedules, unreasonable demands, etc…. People in corporate American have drugs in their system when they are shoved into the door of the workplace. Then they spend hours couped up in their gasoline guzzling crapboxes stuck in traffico as they commute daily. Screaming at nothing. Most of society looks down on work, especially in the USA. People have NO say while working in USA, they have buried in mortgages, student loans, food, electrical, massive taxes on everything. put the politicians and CEO, CFOs in the barn and lock them up everyday and make them “work”. Corporate American is a bunch of low life pieces of sh–.

  19. Dannielle
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Ban work. It is cruel,. bad pay, loser people with too much time on hands. They (USA types) love work, they love bureacracy, they love paper work and creating work. It’s almost like a disease to them. Work. AMericans. Work. Kids alone. Work. Huge mortgage. Work. Horse. Work. Hugh Crantley. Work. Raboratory. Work. Sclience. Work. Horse.

  20. Ray Martin
    Posted February 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Ban the beefsteak. No really, I know many americans and they do work, really hard–for what? really? Instead of banning horsies, maybe ban american type work–that way americans can stop pill popping, coffee drinking, and stressed out all the time. Maybe if these american types go to the track they can loosen up.

  21. Kelly Defer
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    How about the US voting for lotsa of taxes, that way I can give 60% of my paycheck to deadbeats, scum, bums, liberals, and other miscreatants who like to live of the govt. or paying for earmarks like pig smells, and midnacht basketball??? No earmarks for horsies though??!!

  22. Blame it on the alcohol baby.
    Posted March 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Jamie Foxx Blame it on the horse alcohol baby.

  23. Tavonne
    Posted March 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Enough of that Kentucky hill billies, they are everywhere. So what? White trash makes up most of the mid-west. That;s why those europeans laugh at us cuz where dumb. Those knetuckians like to play with the horses and they like krogers and ciggies. Big stomachs, overweight, uneducated, workaholics, heck it’s the american way.

  24. Diane Hefer
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Go to the mid western hill billies and ask to speak to Carlitos, he is the illegal living in the tiny tack room with 7 other illegals. They get paid very little with no benefits, but they sure do love the dinero and work real hard for the whites. They enjoy driving beat up cars, waking up at 4AM, talking real loud/screaming, and having numerous welfare kids suckleing the teet of the USA, . AAAAAAAAAh, the USA, great in 2009, nothing left to my paycheck but a dime.

  25. Jerry Nickel-Dimed, farm manager
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    What you do is this:

    act very subservient to the bossman. be a workaholic yes man. try to save the company money at all costs. Act good/work really hard in front of the master bossman.

    Work really hard 6,7 days/week like a good baby boomer. Then hire some illegal mexicans, pay them 8 an hour with no benefits, no overtime–that is for the upper white class only. If your dumb employees want overtime or do legit work after hours, deny them pay because you need to save the company $$$ for your out of work hill billy wife or you need to save capital for the company to ensure you die at your third rate farm job. Aaahhh the mid-worst. we mean mid-west.

    Jerry Nickel-Dimed, farm manager.

  26. Vladan
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

    The Arabs are buying up everything farms, horses, land, etc…and you have those red neck Kentuckians kissing their rears–because it is ALL about the dinero.–survival to. The horse is secondary or tertiary. It is all about making a profit, running in the black financially. Then you have those horse farms that are nepotism, creonism, and having the right last name fests.

    Working at many of these farms is NOT based on substance/merit. For example, you have a young failed “comedian/improv” actor from Illinois as “president” at one of those “premier” farms-NOT a horseman, never rubbed/ran a horse at track–why??? His FATHER is CEO of the farm!?!!? Learning on the job and flying to places to impress the naive, ignorant wealthy.

    That’s one of many reasons why horse racing/field will never succeed-because of the creonism, nepotism, and people getting jobs–NOT earning them. It turns quality people off due to a very rigged employment game.

  27. robert c.
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    We all know about that failed improvisation actor/comedian, he now is pres at a farm in midway, ky. he looks like his 20 but heck, his daddio is the chairman, so their you have it. 20 somethings, nepotism, and keeping it all in the family.

  28. Alex
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 10:02 am

    The horse racing sport in the usa is dying thanks to corrupt boards, CEOs, commissioners, and other do-nothings, buddy fest. In fact, the former leader of the CA CHRB was indicted on one account of felony vandalism of an owner’s car. Unreal. That is what you have running the rudderless ship called american horse racing. everytime you have greedy $$$ addicted americans involved corruption, theifery, and fraud abound. The horse is secondary or tertiary; and $$$$$$/power/greed is the primary reason for the horse dealers. Period. That is why the “sport” is dying a slow death, two black eyes, on life support and gasping for air. No one to blame but themselves. Self inflicted.

  29. Rickie
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    horse racing has another black eye too, hollyweird park is closing down and will be “re-developed” as a mall, fast food craphouses, movie theatres, and gang bangers galore in Inglehood. welcome to das hood. so much for horse racing legacy and history. sell to a bunch of boomers, you get rocked!

  30. Nathan
    Posted August 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

    oh man, hollywood park closing too? that place was filled with white and black trash. the horsies were cute, and the conmen trainers were interesting too. tons of mexicans loved that place.

  31. amy
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I worked standardbreds in Ontario for 3 years. There are a lot of private training centres in our area which offer paddocks for turn out and the environment isnt so hectic. Standardbreds are a lot cooler in temperment compared to their cousin the Thoroughbred, they get turned out more often becuase they typically graze and behave themselves.

    The thoroughbreds that come to my farm for turn out have to be tranqed for a couple days, turned out in the round pen, then they graduate to a small paddock. Usually they dont know how to graze and just stand there looking around. After about a week they can be turned out in a regular routine with the other horses. Its pretty sad, I have 4 right now that havent seen a paddock in at least a year, they’ve been with me for 2 weeks now and are showing huge improvements. Its amazing what fresh air and green grass can do!

  32. Lea
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Wow amazing reading the comments here. I am an owner breeder & trainer of racehorses. I love my horses & I show them that. I still have a 30 year old mare that I purchased as a 3 yo.
    I hear what people say about the industry & I have to agree with some things, however I have seen so much unintentional brutality in other equestrian sports, it really is right across the board not just racing. The world still insists on pulling horses head on their chests for example & think that’s ok, look at the tennesee walking horses, now those poor babies are in trouble.
    I found that unlees there is evidence people do no believe so I decided to walk my talk & succeed in many areas of the equine industry as a professional & do my work well. My horses go out in paddocks & I do my best to allow them to be horses. They are in magnificent condition & most of the time they are smiling & enjoying being domesticated. Every one of the 30 or so horses in my care will approach me with ears forward & if they arrive in a differnet mind set I have found they will come around very quickly when understood.
    I keep my horses barefoot until just before they race (it is compulsory here to race in shoes) but I have learnt that shoeing horses is in fact very detrimental to their health.
    A few years ago I sold a horse to the UK , he was purchased as a jumper for a considerable amount of money. I was thrilled he was going there as I thought he would be cared for so well. He had had only one 1000 mtr trial here which he won by 9 lengths. He arrived in UK & was at the races within 3 months & racing over 2 1/2 miles! I was so upset, he was a very talented horse ruined.
    Anyway racing has survived 2 world wars I am sure it wont go away for a while yet, so why not learn more about horses & the true nature on them & provide evidence that success can be acheived in most equestrian sports without brutality or force.
    Horses are such amazing generous creatures. My true idea of success is to see my horses healthy & well, working in true self carriage with lightness & purity of gait, unaffected by a seemingly invisible rider! When this is acheived the relationship is a mutual negotiation. The horse bodies are not compromised by an unbalanced rider or pain caused by force.
    I do not condone any form of brutality with any animal & agree that there should be penalities for such treatment, however as I said earlier there is a tremendous amount of unintentional abuse through ignorance & lack of education. I felt the need to write this not to defend racing but to ask the critics to look into the eyes of horses at dressage, showjumping & all other areas of competion & read what the horses are trying to convey. It is all about education & hopefully some of us are moving in the right direction to make positive changes.

  33. Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

    to Lea, above.

    Indeed I am not saying that other horse sports are not cruel, but to justify cruelty in the horse race industry by pointing out Tennesse Walkers is just trying to distract the reader. By the way, I have written about them too.

    SOME are intentionally sored to produce a higher gait. But they rarely (if ever) are riden as babies like in the TB industry as it rushes to get 2 year olds on the track. They do not break legs while competing, and you will see horses over the age of 15 competing. This is also true of dressage where the horse do nto even enter their prime until 8 or 9 years of age, long after most race horses, particularly in North America, have broken down and are off the track.
    Most warmbloods, showjumpers are not even riden until 4 or 5 years of age.

  34. RAM
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Cold and with the flu at 330 am and the cold air is entering the whole in the wall of the \”tack room\”. Can\’t call in because it will be my last day and will be replaced by the guy that hopped over the fence to look for work because the security people would not let him into the \”backside\”. I could not take my wife and daughter to the clinic because the patron refused to give me one day off (worked everyday for the past 6 years), neither could I get the chance to bury my father.

    These are some examples of what it is like to work for the…….

    The Mexicans and Central Americans that choose to work in this type of enviroment is because they need to eat and they have families. They don\’t complain or threaten to call the labor department because they may get threaten with the local police or INS. I have been on the backside of the track and it AINT pretty. These undocumented workers are treated with much cruelty however they realize that if there job is taken away from them then they will not have any bread and butter. So they do not complain. The average American will not do or succumb to that \”third-world\” living enviroment. The majority of the workers on the backside of the track are men and their families live abroad. However, it makes me sick to know that these rich trainers and owners refuses to compensate their employees (grooms and hotwalkers) with a better salary.

  35. Angie
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    You did not explain the good things horse racing has. Have you ever considered horses like too run and race? Some even love it! Would you rather have them just sit in a pasture there whole lives? Let them have fun while they do live even if they do die on the track! At least there doing what they love! Write about the good things the next time you write about horse racing along with the bad things! Not everything in life is always extremely safe and perfect! A horse at anytime, no matter where they are could break legs or get hurt. Even in the pasture… Think about that!

  36. Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    to Angie
    Horses love to run and they can run in a pasture, typically when loose horses canter, they do not gallop all out for pleasure. nor would they run to the point race horses are forced to run, this is only a survival thing done if chased. Horses can get kicked in the pasture and may break a leg BUT because they spend more time in the pasture than in a stall their bones are stronger, less likely to break for the same stress.

    If you think a horse loves getting out of its stall once a week to race and enjoys spending 23 hours a day IN a stall every other day you truly dont know REAL horses. trust me they would rather be in a big pasture free to be horses, not money making machines

  37. Jean
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Horse racing is not cruel. It depends on how the owner, trainer, groopm, jockey, etc.. treat the horse that can make a situation cruel. There are many racehorses that are treated how they are supposed to be treated. They get space and paddocks to be regular horses in when they aren’t attending a race, fed the best and only given and treated and pampered as the best. Thoroughbreds are bred to run. Alot of horses already have the spirited desire to run all out. But race horses have it bred in them and it’s natural for them to take such great speeds in a normal situation, not just to be used to escape a predature of some sort. If you believe it is cruel to not let a horse be in a pature all the time and discipline it do something it has the natural ability to do, then why don’t we just make horseback riding illegal for crying out loud?? If horses did not enjoy what they do when treated right, we would not have been able to tame them in the first place. They bend their backs to us willingly when they have the ability to crush us in a heartbeat. Horses, especially the young, crazy-hearted colts, stallions, and fillies used to race, love running. I mean RUNNING. As an experienced rider in all sorts of styles including barrel racing and other speed events, I know horses and how they run, including my knowledge on breeds and equine behavior. Also, I’ve ridden plenty of horses in joy rides or races for fun. This is what happens: one horse that’s ahead gets a little fast, then the others want to go fast. When the others go fast, they all get even faster and next thing you know everybody’s going all out without even the slightest push, and the young horses that like to be leader are racing with guiding hands to be out in front. This goes on sometimes about a mile at estimation at least until we are finally able to slow them down. We never forced them or had them out of control, just a little signal by mouth or slight nudging and encouraging challengers was all it took to have them turned loose and racing. These were mostly Quarter Horses, by the way, which are faster than Thouroughbreds at a quarter of a mile.Thoroughbreds just do this alot more and have specific training for it. And many are treated very well. Though, there are some that have the misfourtune of having owners that could care less. Because of how they are treated, the whole thing ends up being cruel for those individual horses. But horse racing alone, again I say, is not cruel. A cruel rider can get on a horse, but so can a rider that cares for the horse. A good, gentle horseman can own a racehorse, but so can one who only wants to get their hands on the winning purse. Before horse racing is ever banned, I am positive that steps will be taken to ensure that all Thoroughbreds and other race horses are treated properly and are in the best of health conditions to race. By the way, I know a few race horse owners myself that, at the slightest pull in their horses’ leg muscles, they have a vet called to check it out and give the okay that all is sound. For the reasons you have said for racing to be brutal, any equestrian event can be considered cruel and inhumane. Horse racing is NOT cruel!!

  38. Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    to Jean

    I dont know where you live but in most of Canada and the USA the horses go to the race tracks and stay there for many months, NEVER getting to run or play in a pasture – for fear they may hurt themself- they are in the stall for 23 hours a day, this causes bone denstity problems – a contributing factor to why you seldom see race horses on the track after age 6.

    adding to this is the fact they are riden as long yearlings – babies. compare to the warmblood/jumper – where they are not saddled until 3, 4, or sometimes even 5 – and you will notice you will often see the majority of horses are over 10 years old in competition.

    just becuause horse racing IS cruel, does not mean other horse sports are not cruel.. rodeo for example is horrid.. do you know what they do to the bucking horses? I do..
    but what happens to race horses at bush tracks is far worse.

    and yes I have been in the horse industry for years. I accept that somethings are cruel…

  39. Posted December 4, 2010 at 9:57 am

    WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Horsie Mad
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 6:58 am

    I really love your article.I use to like horse racing a few years when I realized how cruel it was.How can people live with the thought that they support horse cruellty?

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