Debate for the rights and wrongs of racing

GSD Woman

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I haven't read this entire thread but...

All domestic animals were developed for a reason by humans. Wool sheep, sheepdogs, beef and dairy cattle, production bred chickens and the list goes on. As long as the animals are treated fairly I don't see a problem with it. What would we do with all of these horses if everyone quit racing, riding for pleasure, hunting, and competition. Is there excessive use of the whip? Yes in some cases. Generally horses that don't want to run or are too slow often end up in private homes. A friend has had nothing but retired race horses and has done a lot in showing in hunter classes at A shows and has hunted them. Hunting is her main focus so if a horse doesn't enjoy hunting she finds an appropriate home.

This is long and rambling but I think racing should go on with some changes.
 

Burnttoast

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Anyone is entitled to an opinion on anything, however sometimes the facts don’t support the opinion. This could make the opinion wrong or it could just be that the opinion is based upon emotions not facts .
an example of the former would be having the opinion that the world is flat, an example of the latter would be the discussion we are having now.
So you're saying that my belief that horses as a result of their evolution are better off spending their time moving around with their cospecifics eating large amounts of low-energy fibrous foods and that a life in racing is antithetical to those needs is based on emotions not facts?
 

ycbm

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Generally horses that don't want to run or are too slow often end up in private homes. A friend has had nothing but retired race horses and has done a lot in showing in hunter classes at A shows and has hunted them. Hunting is her main focus so if a horse doesn't enjoy hunting she finds an appropriate home.

I think the market for ex racers in the UK is very different from the one in the US, GSD. From what I gather horses in many places in the US are, to us over here, staggeringly expensive, and that must make it easier to sell off the volume of TBs discarded by racing. Many in the UK and Ireland are euthanized.
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humblepie

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For a look behind the scenes there is really interesting feature which can be found on YouTube about a flat horse called Judicial. Raced as a two year old successfully. Big trainer though told ownership group he thought the horse would be more suited to smaller yard. He moved yards and now 10 is running tomorrow in the all weather championship final. Has some good wins under his belt. Only run about 40 times so competed a lot less than most competition horses. Goes out in field every day. Did dressage with his groom to get him more controllable. His work will be going out for exercise with his horse mates.

I often ask my RoR if he preferred going for a canter with his chums to doing circles on his own 😀
 

j1ffy

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The fields around my village fill up around this time of year with NH horses on their holidays. The three in the photo below have arrived in the last couple of days - what a terrible life in a field full of grass, shoes off (one appears to have a poultice on), rugless in the mild weather yesterday and checked a few times a day. I also walked close to a local trainer's paddocks, where horses in training are turned out as well as those on holiday / retired.

IMG_1317.jpg

As in all horse sports, there are good and bad examples of horse care. The racing people I know locally (and there are a lot - I live near Lambourn) all adore the horses under their care and take great care of them. Perhaps racehorse owners need education and trainers need to stand up to them to stop horses being run inappropriately? I have shares in three 'Owners Group' horses and they produce great articles in the monthly magazine to explain various racing terms, care of horses and why some horses do / don't run.
 

Fred66

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So you're saying that my belief that horses as a result of their evolution are better off spending their time moving around with their cospecifics eating large amounts of low-energy fibrous foods and that a life in racing is antithetical to those needs is based on emotions not facts?
Is there evidence to show that the horses suffer more in one environment than the other ?
If the answer is no then yes your opinion is emotive not fact based.
 

Clodagh

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Is there evidence to show that the horses suffer more in one environment than the other ?
If the answer is no then yes your opinion is emotive not fact based.
Well yes it is proven that horses on limited diets are more likely to develop ulcers. I strongly suspect there are also studies saying a large animal developed to walk miles a day might be better doing that than standing in a small box, but I grant you I don’t know how to find them.
On the whole I think racing is good, certainly overall no worse for horse care overall then many other horse sports, I get a lot of pleasure out if it and own tiny shares in 6 racehorses. But it doesn’t mean I’m blind to it’s faults.
 

TheHairyOne

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I am torn on this one, there are some things I really dont like about it, but that is true for me of all horse sports.

However, bottom line is I'd probably not have my horse at all if it werent for racing. The huge amount some of these horses are worth has led to some massive increases in how to treat certain injuries, and the very large number of horses doing the same thing year in year out has allowed this to become routine in some places.

My horse's surgeon had done a fair few of the surgeries my horse had to have (from something he did in a field inside 20 mins!) because we are in a race horse heavy area and the stats were avaliable to work out whether it was worth doing it. And the equipment was there because it would be paid for over time. And the practice is there because its got a continual list of customers. And it was affordable to me because supply/demand.

Racing imo IS good for the single horse rider who loves their horse. It gets us all skilled vets and great facilities for them to practice out of at a cost that isnt beyond the realms of possibility.
 

Burnttoast

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Is there evidence to show that the horses suffer more in one environment than the other ?
If the answer is no then yes your opinion is emotive not fact based.
Andrew Mclean on stabling: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2022/03/05/webinar-is-your-stabled-horse-happy/
Plenty of studies on EGUS in which racehorses consistently come out as the most-affected group.
Recent study shows that more turnout leads to fewer soft tissue injuries. Etc etc.

None of this should be particularly startling news to anyone who knows anything about the evolution of the horse so it's kind of disingenuous to argue that all systems are equal in terms of welfare outcomes unless someone's done a study proving otherwise.
 

RachelFerd

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I am torn on this one, there are some things I really dont like about it, but that is true for me of all horse sports.

However, bottom line is I'd probably not have my horse at all if it werent for racing. The huge amount some of these horses are worth has led to some massive increases in how to treat certain injuries, and the very large number of horses doing the same thing year in year out has allowed this to become routine in some places.

My horse's surgeon had done a fair few of the surgeries my horse had to have (from something he did in a field inside 20 mins!) because we are in a race horse heavy area and the stats were avaliable to work out whether it was worth doing it. And the equipment was there because it would be paid for over time. And the practice is there because its got a continual list of customers. And it was affordable to me because supply/demand.

Racing imo IS good for the single horse rider who loves their horse. It gets us all skilled vets and great facilities for them to practice out of at a cost that isnt beyond the realms of possibility.
Arguably the insurance industry has also done nearly as much for research and development of veterinary treatment for leisure and comp horse industry. Racehorses are uninsurable and therefore often don't get the same level of veterinary treatment as our pet horses do.
 

stangs

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Is there evidence to show that the horses suffer more in one environment than the other ?
If the answer is no then yes your opinion is emotive not fact based.
I would like to think you're joking when you suggest there isn't evidence that horses do better when in a more natural environment, given that anyone who's ever spent time with mostly stabled horses can observe the effects it has on them. But, in case you don't want to spend the five minutes it takes to find an article on the topic:

McGreevy, French, and Nicol, (1995b) - "in dressage and eventing horses, time spent in the stable was positively associated with peaks in prevalence of abnormal behaviour"

Werhahn, H. et al (2012) - "management practices affect horses’ behavior and degree of stress during the entire day. Stress is supposed to be minimized to improve animal welfare in a housing system. Allowing free exercise and social interactions are invaluable tools to achieve this aim in horses, and thus should be facilitated by every horse keeper."

Yarnell K et al (2015) - "the behavioural and physiological findings during this study imply that the social housing designs were less aversive than the single housing design and provided an improved standard of equine welfare."

Heleski C.R et al (2002) - "stalled weanlings spent significantly more time engaged in aberrant behaviors: licking or chewing the stall/shed wall, kicking at the stall/shed wall, pawing, and bucking/rearing bouts"

Ruet A et al (2020) - "the beneficial effects likely to be induced by the pasture do not last when horses return to individual boxes and that the environmental change causes deleterious short-term effects on the animals’ welfare state. It would thus be recommended to keep domestic horses permanently on pasture when possible."

Reilly A.C & Bryk-Lucy J.A. (2021) - "there is an inverse relationship between the length of paddock turnout and the risk of soft tissue injury in nonelite horses."

Graham-Thiers P. & Bowen L.K. (2012) - "access to pasture appears to help maintain bone strength and exercise fitness ability"
 

Fred66

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Stangs, my question was in response to Burnttoasts post, not a suggestion that there isn’t evidence (thanks for the references though😀)

However I would point out that very few horses are kept as nature intended and whilst there are negative effects from stabling horses or keeping them in single paddocks there are also positive welfare effects as well.

Therefore you come down to the analysis of whether something is directly cruel in which case it should be stopped or whether it is not best practice . If the latter then we are down to largely looking at taking an emotive view. Some people (PETA) for example would say that best practice is as nature intended and that horses shouldn’t be kept for human leisure activities at all, others will be somewhere on a sliding scale of balancing use of horse and its welfare. It would be good to see introduction of industry standards for welfare.

Some look at horses as pets and would no more think of selling one than selling the pet dog, others have them for a purpose and if that purpose changes or the horse no longer meets the purpose, then they will look to sell them. Neither is right or wrong however (in my opinion) those in the former camp are far more likely to judge those in the latter, and are also far more likely to be against horse racing etc.

This paper is I think worth a read
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8230307/
 
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Elf On A Shelf

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Arguably the insurance industry has also done nearly as much for research and development of veterinary treatment for leisure and comp horse industry. Racehorses are uninsurable and therefore often don't get the same level of veterinary treatment as our pet horses do.
The majority of racehorses are insured. They are far from uninsurable! And the majority of owners will pay for any veterinary treatment that they need if its not covered by insurance.
 

tristar

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I would like to think you're joking when you suggest there isn't evidence that horses do better when in a more natural environment, given that anyone who's ever spent time with mostly stabled horses can observe the effects it has on them. But, in case you don't want to spend the five minutes it takes to find an article on the topic:

McGreevy, French, and Nicol, (1995b) - "in dressage and eventing horses, time spent in the stable was positively associated with peaks in prevalence of abnormal behaviour"

Werhahn, H. et al (2012) - "management practices affect horses’ behavior and degree of stress during the entire day. Stress is supposed to be minimized to improve animal welfare in a housing system. Allowing free exercise and social interactions are invaluable tools to achieve this aim in horses, and thus should be facilitated by every horse keeper."

Yarnell K et al (2015) - "the behavioural and physiological findings during this study imply that the social housing designs were less aversive than the single housing design and provided an improved standard of equine welfare."

Heleski C.R et al (2002) - "stalled weanlings spent significantly more time engaged in aberrant behaviors: licking or chewing the stall/shed wall, kicking at the stall/shed wall, pawing, and bucking/rearing bouts"

Ruet A et al (2020) - "the beneficial effects likely to be induced by the pasture do not last when horses return to individual boxes and that the environmental change causes deleterious short-term effects on the animals’ welfare state. It would thus be recommended to keep domestic horses permanently on pasture when possible."

Reilly A.C & Bryk-Lucy J.A. (2021) - "there is an inverse relationship between the length of paddock turnout and the risk of soft tissue injury in nonelite horses."

Graham-Thiers P. & Bowen L.K. (2012) - "access to pasture appears to help maintain bone strength and exercise fitness ability"
honestly fred i am truly amazed at all the things horse genius people come out with to prove environmental factors in horse general welfare

you would never think we knew all that already for last hundred years, would you?

i wish they could come out with something we did not know that may be helpful
 

RachelFerd

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The majority of racehorses are insured. They are far from uninsurable! And the majority of owners will pay for any veterinary treatment that they need if its not covered by insurance.
Most the horses I was involved with in racing couldn't not be covered for vets fees in the way that we would insure our sports horses because the insurance companies wouldn't touch them. There are some specialist bloodstock insurers but most owners did not opt for vet fee cover. Therefore many owners would take more conservative vet options rather than go in for full investigations straight away, because they didn't have the same requirement to treat immediately within the year with a £5/6k pot of money.

(I did work in a major veterinary practice in Newmarket. Most of our clients were *not* racehorses for this reason).
 

Fred66

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What are those positive effects and what is the evidence for them?
Some horses certainly appear to prefer a stabled environment (plenty of anecdotal reports of horses that after as little as an hour in the field are standing waiting to get in)
Horses on individual turnout paddocks are far less likely to be injured than those in herd turnout.(as are people handling them)
For laminitis prone horses then stabling can be the best option
In more tropical countries then air conditioned stabling may well be preferable to high humidity turnout.

I even had one notice it’s stable door was open and jumped out of its field (group turnout and not the lowest in the pecking order) to put itself to bed - it had only been out an hour. It is now a 26 year old that still seems to prefer not being in his paddock (prefers the one with loads of grass and hogs the field shelter)🙈!!

I would be interested to know how many upheld reports of horse welfare are related to elite horses compared to non-elite. My guess would be that there are far more issues lower down the chain than in these horses that are in the public eye

EDIT please note I don’t think there is anything wrong with opinions based on emotions, the only opinions that can be wrong are ones based on fact (the earth is not flat). Sometimes the facts can be obscured or open to interpretation and then you can point to research to back your opinion but it might not be possible to disprove the others. (take religion for example no one can prove God exists but equally no one can prove he doesn’t - you can probably disprove elements of the Bible but not God himself)
 
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Elf On A Shelf

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I do struggle to get my head round the result standing when there’s been over use of the whip, I wonder if there would be less over use of it didn’t
I think the result should stand because it is not the fault of the owner, trainer or horse. But I do think they need to withhold prize money or have heftier fines/bans for jockeys that break the whip rules above and beyond a certain level. We do have a "Totting Up Procedure" where by if you reach 14 days of whip bans in a year you are referred to HQ and are sent on a couple of days course to sort yourself out as well as getting a decent enough fine. I do think they need to localise the bans too. Most jockeys ride in the same area - North or South - but the bans start 14 days after being given them (to allow the trainer to make alternative race plans if they really want that jockey on the horse) and take place on the days following on that there is racing of that code. So you could get a 4 day ban in the North where the jockey rarely rides below Yorkshire area and there is no racing in the north on those 4 days but if there is racing down south of that code on those 4 days then the ban counts even though the jockey wouldn't normally be riding there anyway. So the bans don't actually affect the jockeys overly much unless they fall on days when there's big meetings on. They can move 1 day of a multi-day ban and they can move a single day ban if it falls of a Group 1 day that they would be riding in. A ban in your area would knock you out for that number of days and thus take away your income - £175 a ride for flat and £195 a ride for jumps just now I think. So if you rode 3 or 4 horses at each meeting that's a lot of money to lose out on in riding fees. No they don't take home the £175 or £195 as you take out tax, valet fees etc but they still walk away with over £100 a ride.
 

RachelFerd

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I think the result should stand because it is not the fault of the owner, trainer or horse. But I do think they need to withhold prize money or have heftier fines/bans for jockeys that break the whip rules above and beyond a certain level. We do have a "Totting Up Procedure" where by if you reach 14 days of whip bans in a year you are referred to HQ and are sent on a couple of days course to sort yourself out as well as getting a decent enough fine. I do think they need to localise the bans too. Most jockeys ride in the same area - North or South - but the bans start 14 days after being given them (to allow the trainer to make alternative race plans if they really want that jockey on the horse) and take place on the days following on that there is racing of that code. So you could get a 4 day ban in the North where the jockey rarely rides below Yorkshire area and there is no racing in the north on those 4 days but if there is racing down south of that code on those 4 days then the ban counts even though the jockey wouldn't normally be riding there anyway. So the bans don't actually affect the jockeys overly much unless they fall on days when there's big meetings on. They can move 1 day of a multi-day ban and they can move a single day ban if it falls of a Group 1 day that they would be riding in. A ban in your area would knock you out for that number of days and thus take away your income - £175 a ride for flat and £195 a ride for jumps just now I think. So if you rode 3 or 4 horses at each meeting that's a lot of money to lose out on in riding fees. No they don't take home the £175 or £195 as you take out tax, valet fees etc but they still walk away with over £100 a ride.
It doesn't make sense for the result to stand. When Bertram Allen won a big Olympia class but was disqualified for blood on horses side (despite not appearing to do anything wrong during the round) he was disqualified. No two ways about it. Horse wasn't at fault, owner wasn't at fault, coach wasn't at fault - but rules were broken, so horse was disqualified.

Result is overall huge amount of care goes into making sure horses are not marked by spurs = better image for sport, prevents negative images of blood on horses.

DQing participants would just solve the problem pretty much outright.
 

fetlock

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The fields around my village fill up around this time of year with NH horses on their holidays. The three in the photo below have arrived in the last couple of days - what a terrible life in a field full of grass, shoes off (one appears to have a poultice on), rugless in the mild weather yesterday and checked a few times a day. I also walked close to a local trainer's paddocks, where horses in training are turned out as well as those on holiday / retired.

View attachment 90734

As in all horse sports, there are good and bad examples of horse care. The racing people I know locally (and there are a lot - I live near Lambourn) all adore the horses under their care and take great care of them. Perhaps racehorse owners need education and trainers need to stand up to them to stop horses being run inappropriately? I have shares in three 'Owners Group' horses and they produce great articles in the monthly magazine to explain various racing terms, care of horses and why some horses do / don't run.
I have shares in six horses with OG now. Their Equiprep place (I say their- not sure OG own it but think they do) looks idyllic for their holidays and recuperation.
 

HashRouge

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And like hunting it's mainly people who've never participated, who never will participate in it and who won't be affected or miss it if it went who moan about it.

When people who have been on the yards, taken part in the sports and even made money from them call out faults then these should be acted upon, when bitter saddos see an opportunity to "stick it to the rich" by making an issue of something, it should be seen for what it is.

I'm not saying this describes everyone against hunting and racing, far from it, but it certainly is a thing they are both up against.
Hmmm. I don't know where to start with this post. Is your argument that people can only have an opinion on racing if they have been involved with it? Because that is what it sounds like and it is utter nonsense (in my opinion, of course ;)). I would also argue that the people who make money from racing are possibly the least reliable when it comes to deciding whether it is ethical or not, as they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

I don't have to have been involved in racing to know that backing horses at 18 months old is seriously problematic, and that over breeding and subsequent "wastage" of horses is also a serious issue. I don't actually want racing banned btw, I would just like to know that horse welfare was always the priority, which I really don't think it is at the moment. This is not to take away from the many people who work in racing who take excellent care of the horses btw, it is more a recognition of the fact that there are some fundamental welfare issues with racing that need addressing.
 
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