Written by PETA
Eight Belles did it for New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden. After watching the filly break both front legs just after crossing the finish line in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, Rhoden never covered another horse race. "From Eight Belles to Barbaro to thousands of horses in between, racing is a brutal game that grinds up young horses," he wrote in a recent column. "This unrepentant industry exists solely for the pleasure of gamblers and gambling."
Rhoden also joined PETA in condemning the racing industry's abandonment of burned-out, used-up thoroughbreds and backed PETA's proposed Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle Retirement Plan, which would require that thoroughbred owners and breeders pay a $360 retirement fee for every foal registration, ownership transfer, and breeding registration. Rhoden calls the Jockey Club's refusal to take action in response to PETA's proposal "hardly … acceptable in an industry in which an estimated 10,000 horses from the United States end up slaughtered for meat every year …."
You can help prod the Jockey Club to do right by the animals it uses by sending an e-mail asking that it adopt PETA's retirement plan.
In the latest installment of "Yeah, What PETA Said," the Jockey Club has released the findings of a study that concluded that horses used for racing are dying on U.S. and Canadian tracks at twice the rate—at least—of any other country, probably for the very reasons that PETA has stated (over and over again): drugs and dirt tracks.
Horses forced to race in the U.S. and Canada, where they commonly race on dirt tracks and where the use of many drugs that mask the pain of injuries is still legal, die at the rate of 2.04 per 1,000 starts (or races). By contrast, in England—where horses are raced less frequently and mainly on turf and where the use of performance-enhancing drugs is much more strictly regulated—horses die at a rate of 0.8 to 0.9 per 1,000 starts. In Victoria, Australia, the risk of fatality drops even further to 0.44 per 1,000 starts.
Running on dirt tracks is rough on every joint in a horse's body. It causes their leg bones, knees, and ankles to sustain significant trauma, but regardless of their injuries, these animals are often still forced to race when they should be recovering. They are pumped full of drugs that are used to mask the pain, which can lead to tragic, and oftentimes deadly, breakdowns on race tracks.
In California, where dirt tracks have been replaced by synthetic surfaces, the number of horses suffering catastrophic injuries during races has plummeted 40 percent.
So our question to the Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is: What are you waiting for? Let's get busy adopting PETA's recommendations to make tracks safer already, shall we?
Written by Alisa Mullins
Sure, some men joke about how to score with women, but the horse-racing industry's use of stallions to impregnate tens of thousands of mares—in the quest for one big winner—is no laughing matter.
The good news is that thoroughbred breeding stats for 2009 show a decline in the number of horses who were bred. The number of stallions bred dropped almost 9 percent, and the number of mares bred fell 13.5 percent, according to The Jockey Club. Don't misunderstand—there's still a whole lotta suffering in the making. This year alone, more than 45,000 mares were "covered" (bred), which means that tens of thousands of foals will be born into the racing industry and face the risk of suffering broken bones, being drugged, and being abandoned, neglected, or shipped overseas for slaughter when they are no longer considered "useful." Most of the slaughtering of U.S. horses takes place in Mexico and Canada: More than 100,000 U.S. horses per year are trucked to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered (and more than 10,000 of those horses are thoroughbreds formerly used for racing).
The Kentucky Derby and other high-stakes races represent the suffering of thousands of horses—day in and day out, year in and year out. While the drop in breeding means that fewer horses will be born to suffer a lifetime of abuse, there's still much more work to be done. Take a minute to check out our investigation into a Japanese horse slaughterhouse and write to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and demand breeding limits.
Written by Karin Bennett
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.