Written by PETA
After receiving whistleblower reports that at least two horses have died from heat stress at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Ill., PETA called on racetracks in the U.S. and Canada to suspend racing until the intense heat wave breaks. Six tracks—including New York's Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack, Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Pennsylvania's Presque Isle Downs, Colonial Downs in Virginia, and Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack—all suspended races out of concern for animal welfare. Iowa's Prairie Meadows Racetrack had suspended races on Tuesday.
As if being goaded to run at breakneck speeds on a "regular" summer day isn't dangerous enough, horses are still being forced to run despite record-breaking high temperatures and debilitating humidity. Every summer horses suffer heat stroke, heart attacks, and exhaustion during the racing season.
While PETA is working toward the day when no horses will be run to death, raced too young, given performance-enhancing drugs, suffer broken legs, and more … for now, please join us in asking The Jockey Club to at least provide for a safe, comfortable retirement for broken-down and worn-out thoroughbreds.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Earlier this week, we asked you to urge the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to terminate harness racer Christopher Lefebvre's license to race in the state because of his deplorable track record—he has a criminal conviction for cruelty to animals in Maine, among other charges. Thanks to all of you who responded to our action alert, the board has now done just that!
Like their cousins who are used in thoroughbred racing, many horses who are used in harness racing are treated as if they were equipment, and most "losers" are sent to slaughter.
Thanks to everyone who took action, and hats off to the CHRB for doing the right thing!
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
It's official: Just weeks before he was to race in the Breeders' Cup, Big Brown has officially been retired from horse racing because of a serious foot injury. The 3-year-old horse, who earlier this year won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and who outran Eight Belles before she collapsed and had to be euthanized on the track after the Kentucky Derby, has now himself succumbed to the dangers of horse-racing. Honestly, Big Brown's retirement isn't even remotely shocking, given that horses who race are often forced to run before their legs have fully matured.
Unfortunately, retirement from racing for a horse who has developed injuries or is no longer fast enough to complete usually means a lifetime of breeding or a one-way trip to the slaughterhouse.
PETA immediately sent a letter to officials to ask that Big Brown be gelded and fully retired, not held at stud to breed and pass along the traits of a horse who has sustained several injuries throughout his racing career. You can view our full letter here.
Horse racing has always been a greedy, money-hungry industry with little regard for the animals it puts in harms way, so long as the horses continue to bring in the big bucks. Fortunately though, laws are changing to help protect these horses. Side whipping as well as "Snapper" whips, which are used in harness racing, have both been banned. Anabolic steroids have been banned from racing, and Maryland recently banned the use of all steroids. But we still have a long way to go to shut down all horse-racing venues and to remove these animals from lives plagued by injury.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
It takes a lot to shock the public these days, but the fact that cruel incidents in the horseracing world are finally being taken seriously is just about doing the trick. Before Eight Belles' tragic death made the public realize that horseracing isn't all fun and games, drugging and heavy whipping just made up another day in the industry. But now, people are on red alert, and we're doing our best to continue exposing the horseracing industry for what it really is. Because of all this new attention, the industry is getting a good once-over from the public, Congress, and horseracing authorities, and skeletons just keep falling out of the closet.
On that note, let's talk about whipping, shall we? Now, don't get excited ... this isn't the fun kind. Whipping racehorses was banned in 1982 in Norway under the Cruelty to Animals Act. It's severely restricted in the U.K., and many jockeys there are asking for it to be completely banned. If you ever had any doubt that it should be banned in the U.S., check out this video:
The good news is that Jeremy Rose, the jockey in the above video, was recently suspended in Delaware for six months for "extreme misuse of the whip." You can read all about that here.
It's about damn time that these serious problems are being taken seriously! Here's to hoping that there's no future need for hideous videos and cruelty charges in "sports." Thanks for ruining my Friday, Jeremy! I hope you spend your six months in some serious deep thought.
Posted by Christine Dore
Rick Dutrow is Big Brown's trainer, who was M.I.A. during the congressional hearings. It seems the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority found one of his horses, Salute the Count, with the highest level of clenbuterol (a bronchial dialator that also functions as a steroid) that the chief steward had seen in four years—more than twice the allowable level.
Dutrow is being suspended for a mere 15 days and will have to return the $20,000 that he made off drugging and racing Salute the Count at the race where he was tested. In his defense, he was quoted as saying that he uses this on many of his horses and has only once had a problem with it.
If that wasn't enough, jockey Jeremy Rose was recently suspended for "engag[ing] in extreme misuse of the whip" on his horse, Appeal to the City, according to this Blood-Horse article. I was not aware that there were proper and acceptable uses for whips on animals—only on humans.
Rose has been suspended (in Delaware only) for six months and will have to pay veterinary bills for the animal, which include treatment for hemorrhaging around his eye from being whipped in the face. Even though it's not as good as being permanently banned from contact with horses, Rose's relatively stiff sentence—virtually unheard of in the history of horseracing—shows that outside pressure is seriously having an effect on state regulatory bodies.
However, in the absence of an overarching federal body to oversee horseracing, the suspensions of Rose and Dutrow will only be effective in Delaware and Kentucky, respectively. They can still train, mount, drug, or whip horses elsewhere.
Posted by Sean Conner
As arguably tasteless as he may be, Triumph the Insult Dog from the Late Night With Conan O'Brien show made some excellent points in his coverage of the recent Belmont Stakes. As I've pointed out before with humor articles and videos, they often sneak in a few insightful points about whatever act or industry they've set in their crosshairs. In the few moments when he's not busy insulting virtually every attendee of the Belmont Stakes, Triumph does just that.
The horseracing industry is just another instance of the same mentality behind dogfighting (although Triumph may have said so less eloquently). The difference is that horses are raced and killed out in the open.
Besides a chuckle, what I took away from this video was a sense of how unimportant horseracing itself is to the Belmont Stakes. Most of what I saw was just noticeably intoxicated people standing in the hot sun, cracking wise and goofing off. I've enjoyed (and been) this very spectacle at every low-cost local beer garden or outdoor concert I've ever stumbled home from. I don't recall once stopping to think how desperately the event needed horses running in a giant loop to complete the experience.
To see Triumph in all his potty-mouthed glory, check out the video here:
As if we didn't already have enough reasons to protest the horseracing industry, the Associated Press reports that nearly 20 racehorses crammed inside a double-decker trailer meant for moving cattle sustained numerous injuries following the four-day transport from the U.S. to Puerto Rico. Apparently, it didn't occur to the people handling these animals that horses are taller than cows. The horses' bodies were forced into unnatural and painful crouched positions—even causing one horse to remain crouched over for five days following arrival.
The injuries sustained en route have prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to launch a federal investigation.
I guess the handlers missed the memo sent out by the legion of misguided race fanatics that racehorses are better cared for than any other animal used for "entertainment." Sarcasm aside, the aforementioned statement is the number one excuse we keep hearing from race fans who continue to support a dying industry.
This wasn't one case of poorly arranged transport, folks—it's an ever-growing trend in the racing industry to cut costs and increase earnings. Thoroughbreds are transported to Puerto Rico by the hundreds each year, and racehorses on all tracks are made to suffer by this money-hungry industry. Steroids, painkillers, and injuries because of underdeveloped bones—if this is the good life, then I really don't want to see the bad. Take action to help horses here.
*The other reasons are the more than 5,000 horses that have died on racetracks since 2003.
Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Well, about 500 or so comments later, the thread on this post about the recent Kentucky Derby horror is still going strong. It’s clear that this issue has deeply affected a lot of people—and hopefully, all this emotion about Eight Belles’ tragedy will result in some actual reforms that will give at least some degree of protection to the horses who are abused by this industry.
I don’t usually make a point of singling out certain comments on this blog, but there were enough people who made statements along the lines of “But horses are born to race. That’s what they love,” or, like, “They’re treated better than most humans,” that I figured it was worth pointing out a few more things about the horseracing industry, which, like any industry which depends on animal domination and exploitation, will try to get away with any abusive or neglectful practice that might make them an extra dime. And the real victims—Eight Belles and the thousands of less famous horses who died under similar circumstances or else were shipped off to Europe for human consumption—live miserable lives and die painful deaths.
Here are a few key points about how this works, and there’s lots more info on this horseracing factsheet:
For better or for worse, Eight Belles is now a very public representative of an industry that’s rotten to its rotten core. My only hope is that people will keep looking deeper into the way these horses are treated. And don’t dare try and tell me that they like it.
I’m actually going to leave this in the capable hands of the good folks at Deadspin. Best title for an article ever. Check it out.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
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.