Sadly, for many equine athletes, injury and death are always just a hoofbeat away. A 1993 University of Minnesota study revealed that 840 horses were fatally injured on U.S. tracks in 1992, and 3,566 horses were injured so badly that they could not finish the race. Selective breeding over centuries has made thoroughbreds’ legs far too fragile for their bodies. Most thoroughbreds are owned by corporations that have no interest in them aside from making money; such owners don’t hesitate to sell horses to a slaughterhouse “kill buyer” when they break down. First, though, many horses are turned into junkies by their trainers and veterinarians, who provide drugs to keep them racing when they shouldn’t be on the track. Dr. Gregory Ferraro, a former racetrack veterinarian, says that treatments are now often used “to force the animal, like some punch-drunk fighter, to make just one more round.” Horses are forced to run with hairline fractures that would be too painful to run on without drugs.
As an article in Sports Illustrated concluded: “There is much uncertainty about why so many racehorses end up dead on American tracks every year, but the figures are appalling and unacceptable by any humane standard.” To learn more, please read the factsheet about the horse-racing industry