The horse racing industry has been under increased scrutiny as of late for its flagrant mistreatment of horses. Investigations have uncovered a multitude of cruelties including:
- Horses fed a daily concoction of aggressive drugs to mask pain, speed up metabolism, increase weight loss, and prevent bleeding in the lungs during extreme exercise.
- Horses with blisters and scars being burned with liquid nitrogen and other chemicals to stimulate blood flow in their sore legs.
- Horses being repeatedly shocked with electric prods.
A 2012 New York Times investigation found race horses dying at the rate of 24 a week with some 10,000 sent to slaughter every year. Those who die on the track are rarely given a second thought, callously dumped next to the trash as if they were nothing more than used up objects.
The industry has been allowed to self-regulate itself and, not surprisingly, the abuse has only gotten worse as race horses are just a means to an end—money. But third-party regulation and oversight is not the answer either.
While the New York Times and PETA have done a great job publicizing the cruel horse racing industry, they have both fallen short. Instead of calling for more regulation, like increased testing and penalties for overusing drugs, they should be demanding an outright ban on racing horses and the dissolution of the industry.
This will certainly prove an uphill battle. Not only do states have a vested interest in the profits that come from race tracks, but so do big donors and sponsors of events like the Preakness, the Breeders' Cup, and the Kentucky Derby. The payrolls for these bread and circus events compensate many from the horse owners and jockeys to the stall owners and ticket clerks, not to mention the payouts to those who gamble on the cruel industry.
But there is something much more important than money and mass-marketed distractions and that is the God-given right of every animal—human and nonhuman—not to be manipulated and enslaved by others and their self-interests.
Despite the recent media coverage, horses continue to be exploited, injured, and killed under the guise of entertainment.
If we agree that causing animals unnecessary harm is immoral and wrong, then there can be no disagreement that horse racing is an immoral industry as nothing about it is necessary; there's no justification for it other than pleasure and greed. Therefore, reforming the horse racing industry is insufficient and will do little to remedy the burden and injustice endured by horses.
Please do your part by boycotting horse racing and all events that enslave animals. And if you're not already vegan, please go vegan today.
Photo courtesy of PETA.