The Dangers of Horse Racing

A horse race is a competition between two or more thoroughbred horses. The sport of horse racing has long been a part of our culture and is still one of the most popular sports in the world. It can be a thrilling and engaging experience to watch a horse race, especially when the betting is on.

The sport is not without its problems, however. It’s not uncommon for a horse to be injured or even killed during a race. In fact, the number of horses dying at races increased slightly last year, according to a report from the federally mandated horse racing authority that began regulating the sport only two years ago. The death rate for horses at the 50 HISA-accredited tracks was 1.32 per 1,000 starts, up from 1.25 in 2022.

Despite improved medical treatment and technology, the physical demands of racing have proved to be too much for many horses. The isolation and confinement of a racehorse can also cause psychological distress, resulting in compulsive behavior, such as biting on its gate, cribbing, or pacing.

The jarring sound of hooves pounding down the stretch during a horse race is one of the quintessential Kentucky experiences. Feeling the earth shake as a mass of thundering hooves comes barreling down the track is just one of the many reasons that horse racing is such a beloved pastime for people around the globe.

In addition to the physical strain of racing, horses are often subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and enhance performance. During the course of a race, it is not uncommon for a horse to bleed from their lungs, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In order to decrease this bleeding, most horses are given a drug called Lasix, a diuretic that also has performance-enhancing properties.

Another common injury is fractures to the sesamoids, a pair of small bones located above and behind the fetlock joint. These small bones can easily break if a horse is kicked or struck with a whip during a race. A jockey can be seriously hurt when a horse they are riding is injured in this way.

A horse can also suffer from a sprain in its shoulder, which is the area of the neck between the base of the scapula and the humerus. This is a common injury for a horse, and a jockey can be seriously injured if they are hit in this area by another horse or rider.

These are just a few of the reasons that animal rights activists are calling for reform, and even the outright banning of horse racing. Unlike other sporting events, the deaths and injuries of horse racehorses are not seen as acceptable costs of doing business. This is why the HBO series Luck, which was set in the horse racing world and starred Dustin Hoffman, was ultimately canceled after a horse was severely injured and euthanized during production.