Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Racing and Pacing

There are just a few things which upset me about racing in general, the worst of which is the racing of two year olds.

We all seem to take it for granted that racing horses is a huge industry entered into by no less than the Royal Family, so it must be okay. Well for me, the racing of a two year old with a rider on it's back is just outright cruelty. The horses skeleton, muscles and brain are still youngsters, no wonder the jockey has to be small but even then they're sitting on two year olds for heavens sake! Most horses bodies don't fully stop developing until they're six or older. That's why most horses (except racehorses) aren't started in the saddle until they're four.

Racehorses are the leaders in 'stable vices' as they tend to be holed up in stables for most of the day with one or two burst of freedom when training. They usually have hard feed and hay and not the cool fresh grass that adorns the driveways of some of these establishments. They get bored very quickly and the youngsters have to make the grade quickly and with enthusiasm. Any horse that doesn't do so is usually dropped pretty quickly, sold on or knackers yard. There is usually a grim end for a racehorse that does not have continual success including nowadays going into the human food chain ;(

These horses are put into a herd situation and the race is basically getting the horse to use their fastest 'flight' instinct to run as fast as possible, this flight instinct is the one they use to hopefully escape death from a predator, quite sad that this same instinct is used to 'entertain' us humans. I find it quite sad.

Thanks to caring welfare communities around the country some racehorses have been given the chance to live. These committed groups spend months, sometimes years retraining these beauties for other disciplines and not to just run as fast as they can. Most of these horses don't know about cornering in arenas, have only two speeds (walk and flat out), and just teaching the basics means going right back to the beginning. Without these dedicated people most of these horses would be dog food and none of it their fault. With most things involving humans and money (in the form of betting) the animals come out worst. It's all about money and human ego!

The next point I want to make is the use of whips. If these horses want to run so much why do they have to be whipped at all. If none of the jockeys were allowed to whip their horses the race would be won by the true athlete. I think we should all think deeply on our own use of the whip too. IT ISN'T NECESSARY.

A quick word about pacing/trotting racing too. For those who don't know what this discipline is, the pacer is a horse who is driven from a small exercise cart called a 'sulky'. The pacer is made to trot with both front and rear legs of the same side moving together (pacing). Man realised that to move the legs on the same side together makes a horse slightly faster, and I'm afraid to say that most horses do not do this naturally, trotting normally is a two beat gait that moves two legs together on a diagonal. They are trained to 'pace'  and even in the races the drivers fit a piece of harness around the legs of one side so that it's impossible to move any other way. If that's not cruel I don't know what is! It also puts a huge strain on legs and shoulders that aren't used to moving this way.

I'm not trying to shock anyone with these facts and I really haven't gone into some of the really bad things that do go on. I just want everyone to open their eyes and try to eliminate the basic nastiness in the horse competition world, the way they live, they way they're trained and the way we use them for just our own purposes without any care for their horse's well-being. Some of the accidents at pacing competitions are extremely nasty and often fatal for the horses.

There are other 'equine sports' that use extremely bad methods of abuse, often illegal, but humans still do them. One of the worst I know of is the training of 'Tennessee Walking Horses. Some trainers of TWH's use illegal 'soring' of their legs, hit them and do anything to get the horse walking high at the front, low at the back, heads up very high. They even put blocks on their front hooves to make their front ends higher than their backs, then ride them. This causes all sorts of aches, pains, soreness in most parts of their body and I'm sure most of them don't live long. All in the name of 'sport'. What is done to them is totally unnatural and abusive.

I've always said that when you put money and sport with an animal together the animal usually suffers ;(