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Horseracing Body Begins to Come Around

Written by PETA | May 10, 2008

Following the dust stirred up by PETA and the national outrage about the very public death of Eight Belles from two snapped ankle bones, our appeals to the horseracing industry to make far-reaching changes in its practices have begun to have a noticeable effect. An article in The Wall Street Journal today quoted Alex Waldrop, the president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) as saying, “It is clear that the status quo is not an option. We have to stop identifying problems and start implementing solutions.”

Which, well, Amen to that. Some changes have already begun to be implemented, including a prominent horse auction company which has “instructed agents and breeders to discourage jockeys from whipping horses during a coming sales show,” citing the negative press generated by animal rights organizations as its reason for implementing the policy. What goes on behind the scenes, from whipping to doping, is another matter. Time will tell if major changes are adopted by the NTRA, and how effective and far-reaching they are, but the grave concerns about the long list of cruel and shady practices of this dirty industry—which PETA has been raising for decades—are finally beginning to be addressed.

It’s certainly too bad that it took another death of a popular horse during a televised racing event to scare the industry into recognizing that people are leaving the track in droves, but we’ll call this “better late than never” and keep our eyes firmly on the industry to ensure that these promises are more than just talk.

Commenting is closed.
  • K9man says:

    It’s a sad comentary on the human race that we haven’t evolved beyond the point of needing to use animals for our amuzement.

  • JOSIM says:

    I think its OK to whip a horse to make it go faster as long as the jockey is in contention. Obviously there’s no point thrashing your mount if its half a mile behind the pack with no chance of catching up. And its better to whip on alternate flanks so the horse doesn’t veer off to the left or right and get in another riders way.That said I think a jockey should be free to whip his horse as much as is necessary. In my book there is no such thing as “overuse” of the whip just pointless whipping.

  • Horse Racing Hater says:

    I’d love to be a part of making Horse Racing Illegal. It is no different than any other type of animal abuse where insane people bet on the winner. We are such a sick society to allow this to go on. How barbaric. How sadistic. How sad.

  • Melinda Rawls says:

    I find it disturbing as I watch the ESPN preview speaking about banning steroids for these horses which good or bad they make the pain go away for horses. But nobody will mention what happens to these animals if they are not retired to a lovely farm or used for stud services they are sold and driven across the borders or put on ships to be slaughtered. How can you not mention this hand in hand with the medications. Are the horses scared starving and dehydrated when given these shots “NO” but their suffering with the above mentioned during their last moments alive mean nothing to people only their pain medications…HOW HYPOCRITICAL OF EVERYONE INVOLVED. I guess if they are scared to death at the end that is ok because they were sold for a few hundred dollars and no longer are there thousands at stake on their performance. PETA please fight what counts over breeding and the horrible end that too many suffer. The lucky ones are humanely euthanized whether it is on the track at the stable or a vets office. Please think with some sense people.

  • Horse lover says:

    thoroughbreds are actually out of physcal proportion compared to other breeds of horses. their legs are too thin to actually carry their body or it’s weight especially at break neck speeds at which the already too small bones have to take even more shock weight and impact. this is due to a mistake in breeding hundreds of years ago never corrected because of the breed’s speed a very medieval way to continue thinking today i think. now take into consideration that a horses bones arn’t even close to fully developed untill they turn 4 the earliest age at which any breed of horse should be broken in. and in order to race when they are two they must have been training and running with a jocky’s added weight and whip since they were one. probably on sand tracks on which impact and shock at speeds are way worse than on a more natural turf such as grass. all while their bones are too soft because of their age and too small because of their breed. anyone who can call this a legitimate sport is disgusting. would you put a small human child in an olympic race with a weight on their back just because they were fast and entertaining and beat or scare them to make them run faster? if one is right then the other must be and can also be called a sport!

  • Nadine Griffith says:

    It has taken a long time for the public to realize what goes on behind the scenes at racetracks across North America. The “B” meet tracks are even worse. Horses racing at the higher levels are at least more carefully monitored. At the lower end tracks the abuse is not recorded as carefully even though the jockey club maintains differently. These levels of physical and exploitive abuse are not necessary. Most race horses enjoy their job like any service animal they aim to please which is heartbreaking at times. Drugs money and a serious lack of respect for life has twisted and distorted this business into what it is today. Keep up the good work PETA awareness is critical to change. I have been in the race horse business for 30 years and these most amazing animals now have a hero by the name of Eight Belles that has shown the world their plight.

  • Tom says:

    I’m glad I read some of these posts. When I go to the racetrack I take a friend it’s a horse. I would not have any of these people around my friend as they demonstrate no knowledge or concern of or about a horse.

  • Sarah says:

    When I was a little kid I remember going to a horse race and watching one of the horses get shot just because he broke his leg which can be fixed but not alwaysand it has taken me about nine years I’m 16 to realize that beating animals into submission and locking them away for our entertainment as well as killing them for food is VERY WRONG!!!! PETA whatever you do don’t give up!

  • Sally says:

    Please put this into perspective People are not in horse racing for the money the vast majority of horse people do not make buckets of money. The horses are a lot more valuable alive and they are taken fabulously taken care of. They have a staff of keepers they eat the best food are kept in immaculate condition and are excersized daily. It is in no ones best interest to abuse an animal that costs more than a luxury car. Of course the racing industry has issues but we have bigger wars to fight factory farming anyone?? As long as these horses are warm and safe in their stalls and not standing over a metal crate pumped full of antibiotics and never seeing sunlight before they are slaughtered I think we know where our outrage should be directed.

  • Peggy Ellison says:

    I had always been an avid racing fan until I grew up and started realizing that to make a horse run as fast as we want them to something has to happenperhaps whipping. I have heard the argument from many horse people that it is natural for a horse to run. Perhaps this is true but not with someone on their backs with a whip in their hands. Eight Belles was slowing down towards the end of the race probably because she was tired so the jockey had to whip her to keep her going. How criminal is that? I am so sorry that I ever supported this cruel industryshame on these monsters.

  • Nadine Griffith says:

    I have been part of the racing industry for the past 28 years.Both thoroughbreds and standardbreds. I left about 5 years ago and took a few racers with me to retire on my farm. The big money guys are not the biggest problem. Quite often the well bred horses that aren’t as fast as expected move into the lower monetary levels. The business at this level is even more cruel because the rules are not as strictly governed on the cheaper B meet racetracks.

  • Lauren says:

    I can not stand the horse racing industry. I adopted a retired racehorse from ReRuna great rescue a few years ago and he had so many problems. “BB” had badly bowed tendons and a cribbing problem from going a little crazy due to being in a stall all daywhen he was young. He was adorable though he followed me around like a dog. Every time I put a saddle on him he went into racing mode so the few times I tried riding him I rode him bareback. It seemed to calm him down. I miss my little guy I only had two years with him before he died. I’ve never been attached to a horse like I was to him. I don’t think the industry will change people are cruel and always will be.

  • Miriam says:

    Jockeeboy they must had whipped them enough that just showing them the whip fightens them…

  • Teri Liptak says:

    I’m so glad PETA has gotten involved with this issue. Any publicity is good publicity when you’re trying to shed light on a horrible situation. It is such a shame that two beautiful wellknown horses Barbaro and now Eight Belles had to suffer for this awful “sport” but maybe now people will start to understand the disgust that many have always felt towards horse racing and the exploitation of the horses. Maybe the tide is finally turning.

  • es says:

    My friend’s idea which is a good one It would be helpful to convince the corporate sponsors of the major horse races to discontinue their financial support lest they face bad publicity. VISA supports the Breeder’s Cup. Which ones for the Triple Crown races?

  • Janeez says:

    I feel it is time to start posting the NAMES of these breeding farms.and pictures. Also I feel the farms that send these poor horses that cant run fast enough to the auctions.should be named. And then lets name the auction owners and the killers that buy these poor horses and then MURDER them. I say lets picket their homes.or better still lets picket the schools their children go to. WAIT.why dont the FAT CATS in DC do something about all this abuse OF ALL ANIMALS..OH YES.THEY have money in the SLAUGHTER HOUSES..THEY ARE THE KILLERS.

  • Sam says:

    I think that horse racing is wrong no matter what. I mean we wouldn’t like to be forced to run our lungs out day in and day out.

  • Peggy Everhart says:

    I cry every time I see those dear lovely horses being whipped. They are part of God’s creation. Why are some humans so greedy that are willing to hurt a beautiful animal. We need to get really tough on these trash bags.

  • Tucker says:


  • grace says:

    You reap what you sow…. No one will ever stop horse racingthere’s too much money involved and we all know “money talks”. However one fine day EVERYONE will reap what they’ve sown. On that day Eight Belles will surely have her say!

  • Shri Balachandran says:

    There is a supply side and the demand side. a Spot and identify the crowd pulling celebritybusiness leader in the derby stands and persuade them to voice against inhumane treatment to the animals. bEncourage corporate sponsorship of the race horses greyhounds etc. Corporates are worried about their image and will go to length to project a good image.

  • Denise Parnell says:

    To the Horseracing People Remember that whether it’s praise love criticism money time power punishment space sorrow laughter need PAIN or pleasure… the more of it that you GIVE to either people or animals the more of it you will RECEIVE. Its only a question of time.

  • roy says:

    From the Thoroughbred Times”While many states have expedited steroid rules the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council on Tuesday decided to take a step back before moving forward. The drug council unanimously voted to create a subcommittee that will seek a consensus on equine steroid issues and consider funding more study by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium a national industry group that has shaped equine drug policy. ” I guess if they hit a snag the subcommittee can form a subcommitte.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have owned ridden and trained horses for years. I have always been against horse racing. I don’t even get a rider on a horse until he is four years old let alone race him at breakneck speeds when he is two. The industry as a whole does not care for the welfare of their horses. I have known many a retired racehorse who was saved from slaughter by a genuine horse lover. This industry has been known to make fortunes as in millions on a single horse only to turn around and sell him to slaughter for a few hundred dollars when his “usefullness” is up. I’ve always said I’ll take him. Heck I’d gladly pay $700 just to brag that I had a retired champion grazing my pastures. However the industry doesn’t even gie half of those horses a chance to find a good home. They just ship them to slaughter auctions. The whole thing is disgusting. Horse racing greyhound racing cock fighting dog fighting… How are any of them any different? It’s all about exploitation for monetary gain.

  • Jeff says:

    Just wanting to let people know that the results of Eight Belles necropsy and postmortem drug tests have been made public along with the results of the drug tests of the other Derby horses. A short summary released by the Associated Press and carried by Sports Illustrated can be found on the SI website. The results show that Eight Belles had no preexisting injury and that she was steroidfree. The other Derby contenders also returned negative results in the drug test.

  • lynda downie says:

    What a shame that only bad press will move the horseracing industry to show some decency to the horses. It’s like Nl premier Danny Williams and Nunavut premier Paul Okalik in Canada who want to pass a bill to ban the hakapik. You can bet it’s because of the images animal activists have made public and not out of concern for the seals who are brutally bludgeoned to death. Keep up the pressure Peta! JudithFFA I loved your comment “Greed is driving this bus”

  • Anonymous says:

    While I agree that changes need to be made in the thoroughbred industry I feel that PETA went about this entire business the wrong way. By saying that the jockey overwhipped the filly and trying to get him suspended and trying to get criminal charges brought against the connections of Eight Belles you only succeeded in making yourselves look bad. Also Eight Belles was not a popular filly. Before the Kentucky Derby most people had never heard of her. Another thing I wonder … why did PETA not get involved as much after Pine Island broke down at the 2006 Breeders Cup or George Washington broke down at the 2007 Breeders Cup? Is it because they weren’t as young? They were both euthanized on the track the same as Eight Belles.

  • Lin says:

    HBO’s real sports with Bryant Gumbel aired a stark hard to watch piece called “Hidden Horses” tonight on the horror of how thoroughbreds are sold off to be slaughtered. I had to look away much of the time but did listen. Hopefully it will wake some people up. I was disappointed that they were not clear on the The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act introduced in the US Congress as H.R. 503 and S. 311 that would prohibit the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption abroad as well as their export for the same purpose. They fumbled at the end with a sort of “well there’s a bill somewhere”.. but kudos for doing an investigative report.

  • jockeeboy says:

    before you make uninformed comments you should realize that jockies are usually “showing” the whip not whipping them. Look at the tape again you will see. exploiting any creatures death for gain is apalling.

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    Hi Janelle You are abolutely right. It’s like they are throwing a bone to us to keep us pacified. Don’t fall for this their kind of greed can be deadly. History tells us so. They have no plans of changing their wicked ways. Too much money involved. Greed is driving this bus. Peace for all animals!

  • Janelle from Texas says:

    Let’s get real! This industry has NO intentions of making change. It’s been around for 134 years. They’re putting on a show to shut us up.

  • Gerry Ardigliano says:

    The sad thing about this “industry” is that most of those regular gamblers on horses are doing it due to addictive reasons. THIS has to be addressed along with the other issues. We are living in such a “dark age” STILL when it comes to the average person’s animal ignorance that we will only make progress when we add the human cost to animal exploitation. I saw this firsthand in my brother. He watched the horses above on the screen at teletrack with a look of total concern as if he was curing all the major diseases of the world! It meant totally nothing to him when he knew that I protested a track about 30 minutes away along with several of my editorial letters on different animal topics which he would joke about when his employer saw his brother’s name in the paper again. We activists are up against a HUGE mountain that needs a multifaceted approach. As fantastic as PETA is I can cite NUMEROUS examples where they refuse to teamup with local activists when they embark across the country on various campaigns I find it very depressing that PETA still behaves this way.

  • Maya, CVT says:

    I worry that any measures taken by the industry will be just another trend. It’s too bad we can’t legislate this stuff into the humane treatment standards!

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    I know this is offtopic but you HAVE TO check out this blog and photos totally uptodate from a noble and extremely brave seal defender httpherbie.rediffiland.comblogs20080511Meatweeat.html

  • Cynthia D'Errico says:

    It’s not surprising that major auction houses are downplaying what goes on in public venues this is only a stopgap measure to try to appease groups like PETA. As someone involved with the rescue of horses from the Canadian harness racing industry I can attest that what goes on behind the scenes will continue regardless of what charades are paraded in public. The battery abuse and genetic engineering of thoroughbreds and standardbredsin fact any horse that produces lucrewill only be ended when PETA organizes its usual excellent undercover work and exposes these excesses to the public.

  • anthony natriano says:

    I have been following racing for about 30 years and i never seen so many injuries to horses in the last couple of years.Its all about speed and money for these owners.The racetrack surfaces have been slicked down so much this is only going to get worse.Since eight belles went down i saw 2 horses break down .Onewas at belmont where horses break down every other day and the other was at hollywood park.This was just this week.You have to stay on these people because they have short memories and nothing will change when the spotlight goes away.And by the way the winning horses trainer in the derby has been suspened many many times for illegal drugging horses.Maybe somebody should check big brown for drugs before he breaks down Thank You

  • nh says:

    Please do NOT let up the NTRA the JC and the rest of the industry is notorious for doing nothing but windowdressing..Welfare and Safety Summit I II after BArbaro’s death for example.. Lots of meetings and socalled studies and NOTHING happened.. Now is the time to escalate the pressure on the industry if there is any let up it will be back to business as usual.. I hope PETA has a visible prescence at both the Preakness and the Belmont that is where the real action will be and continues to call for Congressional inquiry into this cruel mess that parades as a “sport”.. KEEP IT ON THE FRONT PAGE!!

  • Grobb Johnson says:

    The one good thing I can think of that can come from these horse racing accidents is we don’t have to wait for the animals to die for us to have more glue to make sparkly pictures out of glue and glitter. I’m going to make one of a pony to honor these fine sticky animals.

  • kelly says:

    They need to stop the overbreeding and the huge surplus of horses that get sent to slaughter or tossed around like trash.

  • Why should I tell YOU???? ***Derby supporter that is very angry**** says:

    Well as long as you dont ban horse racing I am fine with taht.

  • Mark says:

    The suffering of these horses is a relatively unimportant problem. Every year over nine billion with a B equally sentient animals spend their entire lives in unbearable misery which every concerned person should have courage to inform themselves of at PETA’s other website The level of public concern for these horses is a truly wonderful sign and I sincerely hope that it can increasingly be extended to all the rest.

  • pattypat says:

    There is so much greed in horse racing that they don’t care about the horses. People need to let the owners know how they feel and ban going to the track and watching it on TV