A horse race is a competitive event in which racehorses are ridden by jockeys, guided by a trainer, and driven at top speed to the finish line. The sport has a long and distinguished history, and it has been practiced in civilizations throughout the world since ancient times. The sport is a source of both joy and controversy, with many people believing that the horses used in racing are mistreated and deserve better treatment than what they receive. Other people believe that horse racing is a noble and exciting sport that provides the highest level of achievement for its competitors, and that while it may need reforms, it should not be banned.
While horse racing has retained its traditional rules and traditions, the sport has also been impacted by technological advances. Some of these advances have made a positive impact on race safety, while others have allowed trainers and veterinarians to more accurately diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses in horses. Thermal imaging cameras can detect overheating in post-race, MRI scanners and x-rays can pick up a host of minor or major health issues before they become dangerous, and 3D printing can produce casts and splints for injured horses.
However, the technological advances in the racing industry have not been equally distributed amongst horse races. Despite the proliferation of new technologies, many races still have small crowds, and would-be fans are turned off by scandals related to racehorse safety and doping. According to IBISWorld, a research company, horse racing is a mature industry with a loyal customer base, but the number of new customers continues to decline.
The sport is rife with alleged violations of animal welfare laws, and it is difficult to see how the problem can be solved without some fundamental changes in the way racing operates. Sadly, too many people within the industry equate real reform with a declaration that the sport is not good for business, and so they continue to over-medicate, over-train, and push their horses beyond their limits. As a result, many horses are forced to retire or die early, either through euthanasia or at the slaughterhouse. A few of these horses, such as Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, and Creative Plan have been highlighted in recent PETA videos, but it is likely that thousands more will fall victim to the system before the sport can change its ways. It is high time that horse racing did some soul searching and took some complicated, expensive, and untraditional steps to prioritize the well-being of its horses, from breeding to aftercare and integrating a more natural equine friendly lifestyle for the competition. This would be a welcome first step in making the sport more relevant to a modern society, culture, and justice system that recognizes animals as entitled to certain fundamental rights.