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Is Horse Racing Animal Abuse? Five Reasons Why Its Cruel And You Shouldn't Support It

Is Horse Racing Animal Abuse? 8 Reasons Why Its Cruel And You Shouldn't Support It

Are horse races cruel to animals and no longer in keeping with the times? If you're looking for a clear answer to this question, you've come to the right place. Horse racing has a long tradition and is one of the oldest sports in the world. Above all, the atmosphere at the racecourse and the adrenaline of betting on the fastest horse is what makes millions of people follow the sport with excitement.

But the frequent injuries and deaths, as well as many other backgrounds to the sport, raise serious questions about the welfare of racehorses. Is horse racing torturous for the animals and is it morally justifiable to provide entertainment for us on the backs of horses?

In this article, I would like to take a closer look at the world of horse racing - from the motives and attractions to the ugly downsides. You'll find out why horse racing Cruelty to animals and whether the sport is still up to date. I'll also show you exactly what you can do to help the animals. Let's go!

You can find a brief overview here in advance:

  1. Definition
  2. Reasons
  3. What to do?
  4. Closing words

Definition: What is horse racing anyway?

Horse racing is a royal traditional sport

Horse racing is a Sport in which horses and their jockeys are (Professional race rider:inside) compete against each other in speed contests.

Horse racing is one of the oldest known sporting events and tells a millennia of historywhich dates back to ancient times. Probably the best-known and most prestigious event in the sport is the Gallop racein which the horses have to run as fast as possible over a certain distance.

Which horse breed is used for gallop racing?

In horse racing, preference is given to the English thoroughbred set. This breed is known for its speed and endurance. For centuries, it has been bred specifically for racing according to clear performance characteristics. Horses have therefore been systematically selected and trained by us humans to become so-called "racehorses".

What exactly attracts people to horse racing?

To create a gain a clear picture of the sportit is important to understand the benefits and appeal of horse racing. So what draws people to the television and the stands of the world's racecourses?

I have summarized the most important reasons here:

  • Economic benefit: The global horse racing market is huge. According to studies by economic researchers, it is worth 402.3 billion US dollars.₁ This means that traditional sport promotes the economy and creates jobs - for example in the areas of breeding, training, betting and media.
  • Sports competition: Another attraction of horse racing is that it is a demanding sport that requires skill, courage and strategic thinking to succeed. And this is true both on the part of the jockeys and on the part of the trainers.
  • Pleasure: Betting on a particular horse, and not least the unexpected cash prize, generates euphoric feelings in many people. Above all, the excitement and the opportunity for positive experiences appeal to bettors. For many horse racing fans, however, the atmosphere at a race, the sense of community, the splendor of the horses and the roar of the crowd also generate enthusiasm.
  • Cultural significance: Horse racing has a deep history in many cultures around the world and has been held regularly for centuries. For example in England - the passionate horseman Charles II, King of England, is considered the founder of horse racing.

8 reasons: Why is horse racing cruelty to animals?

Racehorse "Letro" died in a horse dies at a horse race in Mannheim on the racetrack
The horse "Letro" died on the racetrack during a horse race in Mannheim | Source: PETA Deutschland e.V.

Now that we have got to know the initial fascination and appeal of horse racing, we can turn our attention to the other side of the coin. It is a side that unfortunately in the shadow of the racing spectacle and in many cases the spectators often unnoticed remains - even if it often ends in the death of the animals.

Here I present you now essential Accusations, points of criticism and arguments against horse and gallop racing. They emphasize that horse racing is cruelty to animals and why we absolutely have to talk about it.

1. racehorses suffer overly harsh lashes

The whip is used by jockeys as an aid to keep the horse on track and to motivate the horse. However, it is often used too harshly and excessively. Even if the use of the whip is therefore subject to strict regulations and controls by the show judges - and may only occur 5 times per race, for example - whip lashes are a extremely controversial practice in horse racing.

The Swedish racing authority "Svensk Galopp" has even banned the use of the whip. completely prohibited. There it may only be carried to avert dangerous situations.₂ Understandable, because it is not only morally reprehensible, but also incompatible with the Animal Welfare Act, as it is a cruel means that inflicts pain and extreme stress on the horse for no good reason.

2. race horses receive doping drugs

"Big Racket" (English Thoroughbred) is the fastest racehorse in the world to date. In the year 1945 it was born with a Speed of 69.62 km/h measured. For comparison: Warmbloods reach an average of around 36 km/h at a racing gallop.₃

In order for racehorses to reach such "supernatural" speeds and withstand the stress of racing, they are often given Short-term performance-enhancing drugs (e.g. scopolamine) are administered. Apart from the fact that doping is a violation of fair sporting competition and is therefore prohibited, the drugs often lead to long-term damage to health.

Tip: Why is animal welfare actually so important? In the linked article I have dealt intensively with the answer to this question. Please take a look!

3. racehorses must perform from an early age

Horses are still in the physical growth phase until they are about seven years old. But in order for them to become a valuable, successful racehorse, they are often already with two or three years to the start of the tournaments and trained hard for it from a young age.

The training and the means used are brutal. For example, the animals are Soap stockings (or tongue ties) around the tongue so that they don't put it over their teeth and choke on it while running. And the Strap on the head is used for fixation and is intended to help horses keep their balance.

These unnatural aids and measures in horse racing not only mean stress for the animal - they can also lead to permanent damage and a higher susceptibility to injury lead.

4. racehorses have fear, stress and show behavioral disorders

Sweating horse at the Duhner Wattrennen in Cuxhaven, the breeding ground of famous "Hanoverians" | Source: PETA Deutschland e.V.

Imagine being pushed into fight mode by a third party in the start boxso that you run as fast as possible. Meanwhile, your tongue is tied and you can only see straight ahead through the blinkers. After the loud starting shot, you are forced to take extreme risks that you would never take voluntarily. And if you don't, you'll be beaten with a whip. An agonizing and stressful idea, don't you think? However, this situation is absolutely normal for the animals in horse racing.

Racehorses are also sentient beings, like you and me. Unfortunately they suffer from Anxiety, excessive demands, panic attacks and jumpiness₄ and are often already soaked in sweat before the race. As the animals have to endure considerable psychological stress for the entertainment and pleasure of humans, this is clearly cruelty to animals.

Good to know: Behavioral disorders are also not surprising in racehorses because they are often kept and trained in controlled environments with limited opportunities for social interaction with their conspecifics.

5. race horses suffer serious injuries or die in the race.

Apart from the long-term agony, the animals are only a hoofbeat away from death during the race. Racehorses are forced by us humans to perform at their best - and therefore also to take life-threatening risks. Broken bones, tendon injuries, Aortic ruptures or Neck fractures are not uncommon. Serious falls often mean death on the racetrack.

Here are some Scandals and examples from the gallop racing sportwhich underline that horse racing is cruelty to animals and often ends with dead horses:

Organizers accept the death of horses for their own personal gain. The course of the "Grand National" (the most famous and most highly endowed horse obstacle race in the United Kingdom) is so difficult that almost never all horses have made it to the finish line in one piece since the race was held regularly in 1836. The course also causes many horses to lose their stride or collapse from exhaustion.

6. racehorses suffer from serious or fatal diseases

However, it's not just the events and races themselves that are a pain. The Overbreedingtraining and all other physical and mental stresses on the animals increase the likelihood of serious injuries and fatal illnesses. Colic, stomach ulcers or Bleeding from the lungs are not uncommon.

7. racehorses are regarded as valuable objects and trophies

For most people, horse racing is all about Prestige, prize money and entertainment. Racehorses are viewed more as a commodity, trophy or object of value that people bet on and bid on - and not as a sentient living being. Instead of the horse's long-term health and happiness, breeding suitability, resistance, potential and performance play a decisive role, as these characteristics make the animal more valuable to humans.

There is little room for actual love of animals in this royal blood sport. This is because the animals are "treated well" (health checks, good food, fresh water, etc.) mainly because the more money for their owners and the organizers of the tournaments. This also leads to the boundaries between sport and cruelty to animals becoming extremely blurred.

8. racehorses often meet a brutal fate after the racing career

The fact that the owners' personal greed for profit outweighs their desire for animal welfare becomes apparent at the latest when the racehorses are no longer fast enough for a variety of reasons and lose their "Lose "benefit.

While some are allowed to live on as breeding animals, riding or leisure horses, thousands of their conspecifics end up in Slaughterhouses.₅ In the United Kingdom, for example, special contracts were concluded between slaughterhouses and organizers of major horse races for the latter option. It also emerged that even horsemeat was being sold there for Burgers and kebabs processed was.₆

But it is not morality, but rather the bad presswhich has led to this now being banned locally. Instead, dead racehorses are now exported to countries where animal welfare laws are even more relaxed.

3 tips: What can I do against cruelty to animals in equestrian sport?

End animal cruelty in horse racing through activism
PETA-activists at a demonstration in Hamburg | Source: PETA Deutschland e.V.

It should now be clear that horse racing is cruelty to animals. Now that we have highlighted the critical aspects of horse racing, the following questions now arise:

  • What can we as consumers do to improve this situation and the lives of racehorses?
  • Can you call yourself an animal lover and at the same time work in horse racing, keep racehorses or watch and support horse races?

Fortunately, there are many things that each and every one of us can do to help the Help animals. Here I present my suggestions and tips for finally putting an end to animal cruelty at gallop races.

1. no longer watch horse racing

Anyone who wants to put an end to animal cruelty at horse races should stop watching the events on TV or live on site - or betting on them. The The multi-billion dollar sport thrives on its popularity and financial profitability and depends heavily on viewer demand. More and more people are opting for it, no longer watch, the demand decreases. This also minimizes the suffering of the horses for our entertainment.

With the wonderful animal one can step also otherwise and far more animal-friendly into contact. Be it at private Rides or about the activity in the Horse rescue.

Tip: I live vegan in order to help all animals as much as is practical in everyday life. You can find out the exact motives behind this in the article about My personal reasons for a vegan lifestyle.

2. carry out educational work

Inform yourself and other people about the suffering of horses in racing. For example in everyday conversations, in the social media, by Online petitions launchedby supporting political measures or participating in demonstrations.

Many people are not aware of the negative side of horse racing. Through your educational work, you can actively help to ensure that the Awareness of the cruel background to horse racing is growing in our society - and acceptance of traditional equestrian sport is declining.

3. support animal welfare organizations

From German Animal Welfare Association up to PETA - there are many animal welfare organizationswho actively campaign against cruelty to animals in horse racing every day. By supporting their work financially or even actively, you can significantly accelerate the development for the protection of horses.

Another spontaneous tip: If you have the means, the time and the inclination, adopting or sponsoring a retired racehorse could also be a great solution for you and the animal.

Horse racing is definitely cruelty to animals and therefore no longer in keeping with the times

Horse racing has a long tradition - but traditions are not automatically and forever morally justifiable. This sport is all about entertainment, prestige and power - and not about the will of the animals. Death is taken into account.

"Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it."

Albert Schweitzer (more at Animal welfare quotes)

Today you have learned a lot about the background to the sport and the arguments against horse racing. Now you can decide for yourself whether you want to continue supporting these events or not. In any case, you have the opportunity to put an end to exploitation and significantly improve the lives of so-called racehorses - now and in the future.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or your own experiences with horse racing that you would like to share? Are horse races cruel to animals and do you also think they are outdated? Either way, I look forward to your comment - you bet!

Stay animal-friendly,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: To bring your values even more in line with your actions, I would like to invite you to consider possible Prejudices against the vegan lifestyle to discard. In the linked article, I debunk the most common misconceptions and clichés. Have fun!

₁ Zion Market Research: Global Horse Racing Market Is Expected to Reach USD 793.9 Billion By 2030 (as of March 31, 2023), available at [26.06.2023].

₂ VeganNews: Sweden bans the use of whips in horse races, available at [26.06.2023].

₃ D. Siegel: Highest, fastest, furthest - horse records, available at [26.06.2023].

₄ saarnews UG: PETA - Criticism of the use of whips at horse races in Saarbrücken (as of 13.10.2016), available at [26.06.2023].

₅ BBC News: Horse racing - Thousands of racehorses killed in slaughterhouses (as of 19.07.2021), available at [26.06.2023].

₆ C. Mullin: Horsemeat scandal abattoir took fallen racehorse carcasses from Grand National racecourse (as at: 01.03.2013), available at [26.06.2023].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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