Why Do Thoroughbred Horses Die at The Race Track?
Whenever I write this type of link somebody always freaks out and says “Oh no, that is not true, race horses are babied, and pampered.” Well.. I have news for you, not ALL race horses are babied and pampered, only the top ones.
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At the bottom of the horse race world are the “bush tracks”, places where horses are tied to the back of a truck and pulled around for exercise. Places where horses are raced around out of the eye of the public. Obviously these are not the million dollar horses, but rather they are the lower grade claimers, the bottom of the barrel horses, and the trainers are not the ones you see on television in suits and ties. What happens at most bush tracks is illegal and would be frowned on by the general public, even those who support the horse racing industry as a whole.
Legal Cruelty and Dangers to Racehorses
Race horses are often pushed to get onto the track at an early age. The sooner they can make money, the better. As a result many are ridden as late yearlings (to compare, most warmbloods used as hunters/jumpers are not ridden until 3 or 4 years of age). At 2 years of age Thoroughbred horses’ joints are not mature and this often results in injury.
When two year old racehorses are raced its at short distances. As such the horses are made to run as fast as they can, clearly this results in more impact on their legs, and as such, more risk of trauma and injury.
During the racing season, particularly at American and Canadian tracks, the horses are stabled for most of the day. This results in bone density problems. This is one of the reasons so many race horses suffer from broken bones. In the UK it is important to note that the horses frequently travel back to their farms where they have pastures and often go for rides in the country, or ocean – which helps greatly with their mental health as well as strengthens their bones.
Due to the lack of bone density (the same thing happens to astronauts due to lack of regular forces on their bones) combined with what they do, the race horse is more likely to suffer broken bones and fractures.
In North America horses are raced only one direction. A lot of North Americans assume that horses in the UK race in the opposite direction, but this is not always true, some of the race tracks in the UK are straight (yes mile long straight tracks), some run clockwise, some counter clockwise, some even have slight hills and valleys. However, back to the tracks in North America, they are all counter clockwise, if a trainer does not balance the horse out properly this too causes stress and results in more injuries.