PETA Investigation: Deadly Horse Trials

Published by PETA.

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

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind