Can Horse Racing Be Considered A Cruel Sport?

And should whips be banned completely?I do gamble on the horses but it would be a difficult to bet on a horse if the jockeys were only riding hands and heels,but what do you think?


  1. Jess wrote
    at 20:03 - 26th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    I noticed that many of the answers were from American’s and I would first just like to say that things in Australia are completely different.
    First on whips – the whip in Australia is comepletely padded and random searches of the jockeys equipment occurs at race meetings every now and then. Infact not so long ago an apprentice in perth was suspended for having a lead weight inserted into the whip. Rules were already in place to charge and suspend those that used the whip inappropriately but then the RSPCA had to come in and ruin it. I think that the first set of rules were taking it a little to far and I am happy that the ARB has changed them to the current rules, I think they are working well and it is helping the public view on horse racing. Alot of people don’t understand that the whips dont hurt but just make alot of noise. I think if the industry would work on getting this out there it would be a big help, because publis disception in the problem.
    Secondly the tracks – here in Australia we have all grass tracks except for two synthetic tracks, one on the Sunshine Coast and the other at Toowoomba, of course this is the work of Bob Bently, who ever put him in charge had no idea what they were doing. QLD racing was have problems long before he came along and now he has made it worse. But I am getting off track. There was one installed at Geelong, but due to the weather conditions it was deemed unsafe and ripped up. There are many synthetic training tracks, but the top trainers refuse to use them. Also a report was bought out after a few months of the sunnie coast track being installed, and the nominations were way down and betting turnover was less than Rockhampton! Turf tracks are the safest by far.
    Next we move onto to the diminished gene pool – I know that this is a major problem in other countries but here in Australia not so much. Although every stallion at Coolmore goes back to Danehill or Saddler’s Wells, the lines at the other studs are all over the place. You can go to Coolmore to get your best European lines, Vinery to get the American lines, Darley for a bit of everything (buying Woodlands was the best decision they ever made) and the other Australian studs for the fantastic NZ lines. Also the broodmare band here in Australia has a bit of everything, and it will be greatly increased after the Aussies bought up big at the recent American Breeding Sales. One thing that the Australian Industry has to deal with right now though that could jeopordise our industry is the curent court battle on the use of Artificial Insemination, which would just make everything alot worse.
    Whips cannot be banned, it would make more of a safety issue, if you have ever ridden a horse you will know that sometimes on a certain horses something is needed to encourage them and steer them in the right direction.
    In conclusion racing is not cruel!

  2. L L wrote
    at 22:00 - 26th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    horse racing is not cruel as the horses are bred to race each other if you put racehorse in a field together they will gallop about and race each other it is part of their breeding and helps decide the higherarcy and decide whi is boss in the field. it would be very difficult to race a lot of horses without a whip as this is part of the necessary steering especially over jumps as many horse try to run out with you and or hang very badly whips should not be banned in is maybe fair to say that apprentice races should be run without whips as the young jockeys do not know how and when to use them at the correct time they can loose a race by mistiming and or misuse of the whip and unbalance the horse very badly,it takes a lot of time to perfect the correct timing of when to use and not to use the whip.The new whips are kind to a horse they are covered with felt.

  3. Sandra S. wrote
    at 4:01 - 27th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    There is so much that surrounds horse racing..everyone seems to have a strong opinion one way or another. I’ve lifted some information from Second-Chance-Ranch, that I feel will show more of a positive light then a negative. This is exactly how I feel as well. Many will judge the sport without knowing the truth of the matter.. (1) Racetracks in America may be dirt or poly-track. Tracks do strive to provide the best surfaces possible regardless. Surfaces are better installed and maintained than any others you are likely to find in amateur performance and pleasure arenas, and/or trails and endurance races. Racetrack footing is groomed and prepped before each race. Comparatively, if you are an eventer and astride the twentieth horse with studded shoes to go over fences in a three-day event, you may be hard pressed to find a take-off spot that isn’t slop! Steeplechase racers and open jumping stadium competitors contend with footing issues just as debilitating as a race track surface can be. Be assured that the condition of the racing surface and the health of the equine competitors is of paramount concern to all connected and with aspirations to the Kentucky Derby.
    (2) Jockeys really can, and must, ride well. Quickly, consistently, and in company with their horse. If they are hurt, at best, they lose their paychecks. Jockeys will not mount a horse if they feel it is not sound. They are consummate professionals who know their lives are at risk every time they are legged up onto a horse.(3) Safety of all racing participants is paramount to the industry which continually works to maximize policies that promote safe outcomes.(4) Successful racing and performance horses do love their jobs and the people connected with them. I have seen this proven over and over again. A recent example is the Canadian racehorse, Topaz Legacy from Assiniboia Downs. He dumped his rider at the gate and ran the entire race using strategy, tactic and skill to win the race!(5) Thousands of starving and abused horses are rescued every year from private citizens. Neither Chez Chevaux nor SCR have ever had to so do at a racetrack.(6) Racing owners and trainers may easily invest a myriad of hours and more than 5 or 6 figures into sound racing prospects before it becomes evident that the horse is not physically or mentally suited for the demands and skill sets of racing. Those same people have donated their horses to our organizations or given them away to the general equestrian community to be retrained for a second career. We must note that racing is the only sector of equine sports that has routinely donated such expensive horses for retraining while they were sound and marketable. Owners and trainers have gone as far as to pay board and vet bills for the horses pending rehoming.(7) Many unwanted horses of all breeds do not get a happy retirement. See: The Unwanted Horse Coalition. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reports that in excess of 100,000 horses are annually transported from the United States to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered. These horses suffer miserable conditions enroute. Their death is unnecessarily violent beyond comprehension. The voices of those who target their criticisms of equine endeavors at racing could better direct their concerns for equine welfare to this ongoing situation.(8) Some two year old thoroughbreds are physically and mentally ready to race. Others are not. Nor will they be at three or four. The same applies to any equines’ potential entry into pleasure and performance careers. Race tracks have ultrasounds and state-of-the-art veterinary technologies readily available, coupled with a capable trainers’ lengthy experience. The daily preventative and post care of races horses that we have witnessed is unmatched by any other equine discipline.(9) Race and performance horses can, and do, retire sound. Glo’s Moe, a Second Chance Ranch retiree, began racing at two and retired sound at ten years old without injury. This is not entirely uncommon.(10) For those who believe all horses should run free in „nature”: Begin by thoroughly educating yourselves with an investigation of the mustang herd management policies and practices of the Bureau of Land Management.(11) for those who questioned the response of attending veterinarian. Teaching University Hospitals and Racetracks are committed to their practices and lifelong learning. We have stood by and held beloved equines when immediate humane euthanasia was the only answer. Vets do not want to euthanize a horse for whom any hope of recovery exists. The ultimate test of triage and professionalism under fire is how they work. I’d like the use of the whip reduced and the technique modified, but not eliminated completely. Jockeys should be permitted to use the whip as they see necessary, but agree with giving the horse time to respond, waiting as long as they can before hitting the horse and only then if they feel the horse has more to give. Being guided by the response of the hit is key!
    I like the idea of the use of padded whips, next making them mandatory everywhere. Humans tested the padded whips said they feel the contact but no pain. That, and banning jockeys from raising their arms above shoulder height in the whipping action, should put everyone involved, and the horse more at ease. Special Note-Racing is neither cruel nor evil. No equine and human interaction is without inherent risk. Domesticated horses rely on their human connections to care for them. While there are a small number of less than caring humans in all equine arenas, one cannot fault an entire industry for the perceived actions of a negative minority.

  4. KaliShea wrote
    at 8:00 - 27th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    Everyone is entitled to their own oppion. But people decide they need to take things one step further and protest about things. I rodeo, so Am I going to say rodeo is cruel, No. People who use whips alot would say no. People like PETA would say yes.
    But really, there is no right answer. Its completely your own oppinion.
    But please don’t go and protest about something and turn it intoa government thing. I dont think thats fair, or right.

  5. kmnmiami wrote
    at 12:22 - 27th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    Being a member of this category for several years, I have seen many questions each year asking or stating that horse racing is cruel. I always try to explain to those people that horse racing is not cruel, but you can’t really change the mind of a person who is unwilling to be persuaded. Those people will always consider horse racing a cruel sport, whether or not it actually is.
    On youtube, peta has a video of a racehorse refusing to load into the starting gate… the gate crew is locking arms behind the horse and pushing him into the gate… the same thing that happens every day at every track… they point to that as cruelty… they say that we’re forcing the horse to compete and it doesn’t want to. They ignore the fact that if the gates opened and there was no jockey on the horse, it would willingly run with the other horses and try to be in front of the pack. Horses are competitive animals… they like to run… they like to run in a pack with other horses and they like to lead and win. Despite all of these facts, peta will always consider horse racing a cruel sport.
    So yes, horse racing can be considered a cruel sport. But is it? For the vast majority of time, it’s not. I say the vast majority because there is always the small percentage of ignorant horse owners, trainers, and jockeys that are cruel to horses. Some idiot bought a 12 year old mare who hasn’t raced since 2000 and entered it to race at Churchill Downs… that’s just not a good idea. In the 1980 Preakness, Angel Cordero hit Genuine Risk in the eye with his whip so she’d lose the race… that was cruel… and Jeremy Rose got suspended last year for doing the same thing.
    The horse racing authority in each state tries to prevent cruelty… they restrict the use of the whip, they ban the use of some medications, they order vet checks on horses before they race, and they issue punishments for infractions. Unfortunately, there’s some people willing to accept the punishments just so they can continue breaking the rules. Rick Dutrow has a history of drugging his horses, his most recent infraction was Derby Day last year… he appealed the suspension so he could postpone it until after he had Big Brown and other big stakes horses… he’s just now serving that suspension. The racing commission needs to prevent people from manipulating the system that way, but it’s a good step forward that Rick Dutrow is currently not allowed to set foot on any racetrack in the US.
    Ultimately, horses are bred to run… most of them enjoy it. The ones that don’t enjoy it are not very successful racehorses and they usually retire to a different career. Most of the people who work with the horses know how to work with horses… if they’re not animal lovers, at least they respect the horses and understand the signs of what a horse is trying to say.
    As for the whip, most jockeys will tell you that they get most of the effort out of the horse without the whip and they really don’t need it. It’s actually a bit of a hassle because if they jockey doesn’t use the whip enough or uses it too much, they get called before the stewards and can be suspended… it’s a judgment call. I’d support a ban on whips. However, I don’t really have a problem with whips. When I ride, I often have to use a crop to make the lazier horses move forward… i’ve hit myself with the crop, and it doesn’t hurt… it’s just a little bit of extra motivation. Racing whips are a little stronger than the average riding crop… used inappropriately, they can cause welts on a horse. However, that’s why there’s restrictions on how to use the whip. The normal pop on the shoulder or smack on the hip does not cause lasting damage.
    The industry has recently switched to a safer whip… it’s a little more padded so the shock is absorbed by the whip rather than the horse… many states require riders to use these whips and many riders voluntarily use them. I know that Calvin Borel used one when riding Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward and I know that the riders on Gio Ponti and Zenyatta both used the new safer whips in the Breeders Cup Classic. Here’s a news article about them:
    And if an animal lover like Bobby Frankel can devote his life to horse racing, it can’t be cruel!

  6. Staffy Bob wrote
    at 17:03 - 27th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    no it is not cruel most of the time it is the whips sound that the horse responds to and they don,t really feel that much much with the new padded whips when they are given a slap. And the horses are bred to race Its not cruel

  7. DUDE123 wrote
    at 0:00 - 28th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    i think whips are animal cruelty and should probaly be banned
    its like someone hitting a human being with whip
    and depending on how hard you whip it could scar.

  8. Waiting for the Wind wrote
    at 2:22 - 28th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    some say gamblings a sin. but a bet know and then is for fun’ but racing has been in this world since horses and greyhounds could run ?
    somes cruel i suppose ?

  9. Starlight 1 wrote
    at 8:48 - 28th Styczeń 2010 Permalink

    It’s not only cruel, it’s also often DEADLY- to people and horses alike. Just take a look at today’s column under the yahoo sports section and read about Garrett Gomez’s spill this past Saturday, if you want proof. That fall injured him, and it KILLED the 2 year old filly he was riding. He’s actually really lucky that HE didn’t DIE too. Accidents like this one are TOTALLY PREVENTABLE. They are a consequence of horses being asked to race and do hard work at FAR TOO YOUNG AN AGE- the average racehorse starts his or her career at the age of a YEAR, which is LONG BEFORE horses in other sports outside of racing start work. 2 year old horses have the equivalent bone development of a 6 YEAR OLD KID- which means that their bones are still soft and still growing- and most of these animals simply can’t take the stress of the hard work which racing requires. The whip is the LEAST CRUEL thing in the sport, if you ask me- there are plenty of other abuses which are much more entrenched and much more serious. Drug use is one of these- there are plenty of trainers out there who train out of the medicine cabinet, instead of doing their job and actually teaching their horses something. These idiots would rather let drugs do for them what they should be doing themselves. So is poor breeding and genetics- today’s horses are being bred for speed and looks, NOT for soundness or long term health, and IT SHOWS. The advent and development of Polytrack and other synthetic racing surfaces has only made this worse, because it gives breeders and owners an INCENTIVE to keep breeding for looks and speed. The Thoroughbred has suffered as a breed, too- it has become the most over and inbred breed in existence. We are only just STARTING to see the consequences of DECADES of poor breeding decisions- one can only spin the genetic wheel in the same direction just so many times without DIRE consequences for all involved, and this has been happening a lot. Every racehorse in existence today is inbred at least to some degree, and many of them are severely so. As the bloodlines have become more and more concentrated, the incidence of preventable, HEREDITARY defects ( such as the superfine, inhererently WEAK bone structure that the filly Eight Belles had in her front legs) is rising sharply. Defects like this one contribute in no small way to major accidents, because the horses who have them are just not able to take the stress of the work demanded of them. On top of this, the total over all gene pool in the Thoroughbred breed has shrunk drastically over the last half century or so- it’s now about half or even a third the size it once was. There are certain families and lines within the breed which are NOTORIOUS for producing horses that have only a limited number of races in them before they break down and die- and I’d give any odds that the filly which Gomez was riding on Saturday probably came from one or more of those families. This has become the breeding industry’s worst kept secret, if you want to call it that. There are horses racing and training today who shouldn’t even be anywhere near a track, in fact, because of their genetic makeup if nothing else.
    So yes, it could be argued that racing is a cruel sport. I’m not going to comment on the whip issue, because I consider it to be such a minor thing when compared with all the other cruelties which exist on the tracks. The whips don’t really do much- they just make noise and sting a little. I’ve been hit with a racing whip myself the odd time or two, and it’s no big deal. Banning the whips doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either, because there are times when they are necessary. Application of the whip at the right moment can stop a horse from running out, or from barging into or hitting another horse- and thus, they help to prevent accidents. Whips can also be used in the same way that one would turn on a lightswitch- it’s possible to train some horses to respond and increase their speed when they are merely shown a whip instead of being hit with one. I’ve seen plenty of racehorses which were like that- they speed up as soon as the rider shows them the whip. He doesn’t have to use it- just acting as if he’s GOING to use it is enough.

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