There is much concern recently over the welfare of professional race horses. It has always been true that some organizations want to prohibit horse racing because they think thoroughbreds are treated poorly. Do race horses get treated well? We’re going to try and answer question.
Animal Welfare and Horse Racing
There are many organizations such as PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, that keep a close eye on horse racing. In their opinion the sport is a barbaric form of entertainment that should probably be banned. They think the horses are forced to compete against their will and are abused by their handlers.
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Incidents like the one that happened at the 2019 Santa Anita race meet do not help matters much. At Santa Anita a record number of horses had to be euthanized in 2019 because they suffered injury on the race track. It was a sad thing for horse racing, and it prompted the US government to take a closer look at racing to determine which measures should be taken to improve the safety of animals.
At the subsequent race meet in Del Mar, California not one single horse had to be euthanized following an injury on the track, proving that Santa Anita may have been an outlier where statistics are concerned. Nevertheless, measures have been taken to evaluate racing surfaces as well as the use of race day medications which may contribute to injuries.
The Truth About How Race Horses are Treated
EZ Horse Betting thought that it would be useful to explain how the average race horse is treated in America. We can only provide details from our limited experience with US horse racing. There are members of our staff who have worked in the industry as grooms, jockey agents, and in other positions that allow them to observe first hand how race horses are cared for.
Most race horses are stabled on the track where they compete. They are given a stall that measures at least 12′ X 12′ and is often larger. A barn can contain 40 individual stalls or more. Each race horse trainer will keep all of their horses in the same barn so that the trainer has easy access for observation of all the horses.
Trainers entrust the primary care of a race horse to a groom. The groom is responsible for every aspect of the horse’s well-being. The groom feeds the horse, brushes it, tends its feet, and applies bandages when necessary. The groom may also give the horse medications when they are needed, under the direction and supervision of the horse’s trainer or veterinarian.
Grooms usually live on the track. Most of them reside in tack rooms that are actually located in the trainer’s barn. This allows the groom to be close at hand when any issue occurs that needs to be taken care of immediately. Grooms can be called upon to wake up in the wee hours of the morning, or they can have to stay up all night tending a sick horses.
How Race Horses are Fed
The nutritional requirements of each race horses are determined by its trainer. Horses are generally given a mix of horse feed and nutritional supplements that are designed to aid and improve performance.
Sometimes the first feeding will occur in the morning hours before dawn and before training. The horse will be given time to eat and begin digesting its meal before it is sent to the track to train. In most cases, however, the horse is permitted to have hay or some minor food before it is sent to train. The main feeding of the morning will happen after the horses has returned from training.
In the evening hours a second feeding will occur. This can often be the largest feeding of the day. Most horses are also provided with additional nutrition in the night with hay. This can be a regular type of hay or something like alfalfa.
What About Medical Care Required by Horses?
Horses can require medical care from time to time. They may need to have examinations done to assess an injury to their legs, or they may experience intestinal problems. Some health issues can be handled easily while others require more serious care. Some issues can threaten the life of the horse.
One of the most dangerous health crises a horse can face is colic. This issue is an intestinal one. It causes the tracts of the horse’s intestines to twist. The horse may not be able to pass gas that has built up, or it may not be able to defecate. If not handled in a timely manner colic can often result in the death of a horse.
Another major issue is something called founder or laminitis. This problem affects the hoof wall of a horse. In the worst cases it can cause the hoof of the horse to come off. The most severe cases of laminitis are usually fatal to a horse. This was what ultimately caused the death of Barbaro.
When race horses require medical care they are given the very best care that is available. Each trainer uses his or her own veterinarian. The owners of each horse are required to pay for any medical treatments that are necessary. Sometimes the cost of a medical treatment can run into the thousands of dollars.
Why Bettors Should Care About Race Horse Treatment
At EZ Horse Betting we believe that most race horses are treated well by their handlers. Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course there are. As a horse racing bettor you should always care about the care and treatment of race horses.
If race horses are not cared for in a proper way then it is possible measures could be taken to end the sport of horse racing as we know it. That means that you would no longer be able to make bets on racing at your favorite online racebook.
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