The Horse Race is a Cruel Sport

Horse races have long been a popular form of entertainment. They have evolved from a primitive contest of speed or endurance between two horses into an elaborate spectacle with many participants, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment and immense prize money. But the essential concept remains unchanged. The horse that crosses the finish line first is the winner. Whether you love or hate the sport, one thing is certain: The horses who race are victims of a cruel system.

In the United States, racehorses are subjected to a cocktail of both legal and illegal drugs designed to mask injuries and enhance performance. The horses are often pushed beyond their limits, which leads to the excruciating and sometimes fatal condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). Horses that are not healthy enough to compete may be given Lasix or Salix, both of which have the potential to increase bleeding in the lung and therefore improve performance.

The equine industry’s reliance on these substances is a major factor in the high number of horse race deaths. The industry has long been loth to change, but in 2020 Congress decided that it was not willing to watch animals die to entertain racing enthusiasts and passed legislation requiring new safety standards. The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority, or HISA, began enforcing these new standards last July.

While HISA has made significant progress, the industry is not going to change overnight. The new rules will take time to be implemented and to produce noticeable results. Until then, we need to start talking about how we can change the system.

Currently, in most flat horse races not including steeplechases, a horse’s pedigree is one of the requirements for eligibility to race. This means that a horse must have a sire and dam who are both purebred members of the same breed.

In addition, to qualify for a race, a horse must meet age, distance, sex, and gender requirements and have a sufficient amount of experience in order to be eligible to run against other horses in the event. The weights that a horse must carry are also determined by these factors. In some of the more prestigious races, such as a handicap race, each horse is assigned a weight that will be carried by all runners, while other races are known as condition races, where each horse is given an advantage or disadvantage based on their past performances.

The Palio di Siena is a twice-yearly horse race held on July 2 and August 16 in the city of Siena, Italy. The most famous race is the Il Palio, which is a competition between seventeen Contrade, or city wards, each represented by their own team of jockey and horse. It is the oldest of all horse races and a magnificent pageant that attracts visitors from all over the world.