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PETA Investigation: Deadly Horse Trials

Written by PETA | September 12, 2011

Update: PETA investigators have released the following undercover video, showing horses as they were forced to run so fast that they suffered broken bones, burst aortas, and other potentially fatal injuries. This video footage will be used to push thoroughbred auction companies to institute PETA’s proposed reforms.

PETA has documented yet another example of how merciless and mercenary the thoroughbred racing industry is. Two-year-old horses are forced to perform in reckless speed trials known as “under tack shows” to impress prospective buyers at auctions. These young horses, whose fragile bones, tendons, and muscles are not yet fully developed, are pushed to sprint one-eighth of a mile at breakneck—or, rather, breakleg—speeds.

PETA investigators have documented that forcing these baby horses to run at extreme speeds at auctions and during training for these events can result in dangerous accidents, broken bones, and death. Equine veterinarian Dr. Sheila Lyons, who has been featured on the cover of The Blood-Horse magazine, writes: “Pushing these immature 2-year-old horses for speed before they have reached physical and mental maturity is recklessly dangerous and systematically damaging for the animal while also proving to be unreliable for the prospective buyers as a predictor of future racing ability.”

 PETA is urging the four major thoroughbred auction companies, Fasig-Tipton Company, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Keeneland Association, and Barretts Equine Limited, to adopt a series of reforms, including the following:

  • Ban horses younger than 2 years of age from sprints.
  • Eliminate the timing of sprints.
  • Mandate postponement of pre-auction under tack shows in unsafe track or weather conditions.
  • Ban all whips, toe grabs, and other tools and weapons that force young horses to run at excessive speeds.
  • Crack down on the use of performance-enhancing and injury-masking drugs.

Help us put an end to this unnecessary suffering. Please take a moment to politely urge the four major auction companies to implement PETA’s proposed reforms.


Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Coreen Bradley says:

    Human greed is the reason for all the non-natural disasters and I really don’t feel a whole lot of sadness for those humans that become injured or worse when thier greed and ignorance. I am disgusted beyond words when the stupid humans of the world

  • Ellysleigh Garbutt says:

    I study my equine sport science degree and racing is a topic i can not avoid as it is the most money driven sport within the equine industry. I have chosen to do my dissertation on thoroughbreds after their racing career. This kind of information is absolutely breaking me while trying to stay calm and straight thinking to gather all this information. Each statistic I read regards injuries and fatalities, foals and broodmares, wastage, slaughter and abandonments are all without a doubt shocking and disgusting figures. How can such cruelty such as these speed trials be allowed to continue. The racing industry no matter how much money they fund into charities and veterinary and welfare aspects of the sport it is not enough to cover up the fact it is clear animal cruelty in broad day light. Disguise it with a fancy top hat and tail, a pretty dress and a hand bag, a little bit of loose cash and a fancy sash makes it all ok? I think not, these animals are taken for granted, abused and held against their freedom and the 5 freedoms that these trainers “so call” abide by, they are not free from fear or pain, nor thirst or hunger as we are causing exhaustion and restrain them from a natural diet. I could continue untill anyone who agrees with this realises their mistakes. these poor poor suffering abused young stock! there is no other way to look at it! your mad if you think this is appropriate and justified!

  • Dr. Rabee McDonald says:

    I am disheartened by man’s cruelty and greed! What happened to having a heart? Money took over, and people see nothing but dollar signs at the price of horses’ lives and well being. Shame on them!

  • Doraine Van Lew says:

    Please, please, PLEASE!!! Let’s get some legislation on the books that will ban totally the training and running of a horse under 2 years old. Even a 2 year old is too young for this kind of punishment. I believe no horse should be put to this kind of stress until they are fully grown and bones are totally matured. That means NO RACING UNTIL FOUR at least! Of course the big money people wouldn’t want to pay to keep a horse THAT long before they start turning a profit for them, so they’ll object with every last breath. But this nonsense and cruelty has to stop! Since there are no conciences left among these people, it will have to be legislated!

  • lisa says:

    Not every race horse owners are the same,I worked for years as an assistant/owner/groom trainer in 4 states for over 12 years.Personally I wouldn’t attend one of these devastating shows(dead future) as they call it. We are against and have strong belief’s on starting young undeveloped horses in this way!Maturity is watched closely and to tell u the truth this is idiotic!To me? this is no selling advantage point! I wouldn’t want any horse that has been put to this test,so no I don’t promote it or agree with it!It is truly appalling! and just shows that the horses exposed to this type of training will not last in a career due to what some(trainers) ask of them.There is no way after this they are sound. I don’t care what one says.personally I would stay clear of trainers that expose there horses to this no doubt! So its not ALL trainers who apply.There are many drugs used in the horse industry rodeo,fox hunts,jumpers,polo,halter horses and many many more events. I think if a trainer is caught using illegal drugs they should be banned for eternity! Make them pay the price! They will have no choice to be more ethical. Consequences should be high and treated as a crime of abuse. If they are to put an end to this outrage I see this as a solution as it will not affect the true ethical trainers because they don’t attend or support this action.I worked for two great individuals in my racing trainer career. These farms owned there dams,bred them and watched them grow into fine mature athletes.There are deep bonds with the ones I worked for.They were NOT just money signs to us.Dam’s were money earners themselves and spent the rest of there lives producing great babies in there retirements. And even if they didn’t… they still remained on the farm till the right home came along.They would be re-evaluated and re-trained after rehabilitation if needed to make it easier to find them wonderful homes. Most donated to 4-h clubs for the kids who couldn’t afford a show horse.We never sold horses that were going to be exposed to jumping either,as I think that is more stress to the animal and no way considered retired! I remember when racing we were forced to put one in claim race. I dreaded those days and we actually had one claimed. We followed her and followed her career in hopes we would have the advantage to re-claim her.unfortunately it wasn’t an option. We bought her outright after they broke her down and she came home were she belonged to become one of our greatest brood mares.I watched her being born as we owned her dam as well,watched them graze and play with eachother while all there different personality’s entertained us. We knew first hand who had the “heart” who was more mentally mature and who needed more time just by watching them and observing there play activity’s in huge pastures with red clover while swinging on a swing for hours enjoying every minute watching them grow and graze.Like I said, this cause wouldn’t effect the ethical ones so you have my support. Huge costly consequences would be the ONLY solution.

  • Carol Remillard says:

    WHAT.. is the matter with these people???? I bet the owners of these horses were happy.. where’s the profit now???? The riders/jockeys of those horses got what they deserved…HURT..I hope… Wise up people, take a good look at what you’re doing, it’s WRONG.

  • Sarah says:

    I work as a horse racing writer, so I make my living in the industry. I adopted a 3-year-old filly off the track earlier this year. She just didn’t want to be a racehorse, so her owners just wanted to find her a good home. She’s my soul sister and best friend. I’m also a shareholder in a 2-year-old racehorse. He’s most likely not running this season because he’s just not physically ready, and we don’t want to push him – we’re letting him tell us when he’s mature enough to handle a race. His majority owner is a woman who runs a racehorse retirement farm. She’s raised this colt from birth, and when he’s done with his racing career, he’ll be coming home for good. My best friend is also the owner of an off-the-track Thoroughbred whose owners donated him to a retirement program when an injury ended his racing career. He’s now loving life as a jumper and a spoiled buddy. She regularly sends his former owners updates, and they love seeing how happy he is in his new life. YES, a lot of crappy things go on in the racing industry. But please be careful when you say “all of us” in the industry are only interested in making a quick buck and dump horses like trash when they’re no longer profitable. I’ve given you just a few examples of people who see these incredible animals as more than just moneymakers, and who look out for their interests, during and after their careers.

  • Dolores Moyer says:

    It is all about the money!The owners and so called trainers don’t care about these poor babies.So sad and heart-breaking,the abuse needs to end now!The people that do this are nothing but money hungry bastards!

  • terezia ildiko fogarasi says:

    this cruelty make me cry shame on man

  • Vickie Baysden says:

    This is absolutely appalling…turns my stomach upside down and I want to throw up…why are they contiually racing these horses…why cant it be stopped…it needs to stop…stop…stop…so very sad 🙁

  • Mara Rennie says:

    I don’t know what to say…horses suffer for man’s financial greed! Shame on man.

  • Irene Leggett says:

    The racing industry is a filthy, cruel business but they will still tell you that ‘they love their animals’ Yes, they love them whilst the horses are earning them money, love them while they’re winning races, but afterwards..we all know the answer to that one. Shame on the racing industry, nothing by money-grabbers, every last one of them.

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