I actually have a love/hate relationship with the racing industry. I wish it could be a black and white issue for me like it is for so many others, but in reality there are so few things in life that are so cut and dry.
Let’s be honest at the root of it, all things set aside, it is exciting and fun to watch the horses run so damn fast. Especially if you have a little cash riding (pun intended) on the outcome. Johnny Weir and his tweet powered brooch paired with his outrageous hats are reason enough to tune in for all the excitement. If you’ve ever been to Kentucky during Derby season the event creates a culture for the area, a bringing together of people that cannot be denied.
Here’s the big reason, as a horse owner, to love The Derby and the race industry in general. Like it or not my backyard trail ponies benefit from the amount of money, research, interest and developments that come from the racing industry. Hobby horse owners cannot support the equine industry alone and if it were not for some of the larger disciplines with the ability to pump money into this activity we would all suffer. Our feed, medicine, management practices, shoes, and access to this passion are enhanced, in part, by the racing industry.
Those benefits don’t come without their drawbacks. The evils of the same industry I was just praising are many.
Running two year olds is too soon in my opinion. Their bodies are not ready. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that horses in this industry are money makers. Their mental health and yes even their physical states can come second to their ability to earn a buck. They are rushed through so many things just to get them on the track. I’d love to live in a world where we all put the horse first. Caring about it’s mental, emotional and physical state but the cold hard truth is, if these animals cannot perform their job there is no place for them in that world.
The Lasix debate is a real and personally I think the use has gotten out of control. Years ago, you’d watch a race with only a few in the field on the drug. Now, it’s hard to find a horse in the field that isn’t on it.
Nurse mare foals are another debatable issue and you’ll be hard pressed to find consenting information on the internet as to how frequent this practice is used. I’m not linking any articles so you can do your own research and draw your own conclusions. Personally I believe the practice is used and I agree that there is wasted life because of it, however, I’m not sure it is as wide-spread as some of the fundraising/money collecting efforts might have you believe. There is money to be had in this industry outside of the betting boxes.
Enjoy your Derby day whether you love it, hate it, watch it or don’t…you can Justify (yep another pun intended) your reasons for both.