Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter.
Every year, PETA receives countless calls from people within the multibillion-dollar horse-racing industry who are in despair over the fate of horses who are bred and raced to the grave or sent on a terrifying journey at the end of their short lives to painful deaths in a foreign slaughterhouse.
When celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby, PETA called for Congressional hearings into abuse in the horse-racing industry and for reforms to focus on the issues that have the greatest impact on the welfare of horses, including the following:
- The use of performance-enhancing drugs
- The age at which horses begin racing and the abuse of yearlings and 2-year-olds in training
- Hard track surfaces, which devastate the limbs of young horses
- Excessive breeding of horses
- The use of whips
- Auctions, claiming races, and serial ownership
- The slaughter of “retired” horses
Less than three weeks after thousands of PETA supporters contacted their legislators backing our call, the hearings took place. Since then, horse-racing reforms have focused on the very issues that PETA publicly pressured the industry to address.
“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been among racing’s leading critics. It still is.”—Tom Pedulla, USA Today
While Eight Belles’ death was one very public tragedy, three horses die or are killed after suffering catastrophic injuries during races on tracks across America every single day. This doesn’t include the horses who break down during warm-ups or who die from illnesses caused by overwork, travel, and stress. And as many as 10,000 thoroughbreds are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter every year when they’re no longer profitable to the racing industry.
Please take just a few moments of your time to add your voice to those who have taken part in our urgent action alerts regarding the horse-racing industry. Also, please consider making a donation to help fund PETA’s lifesaving campaigns.