Shining the Spotlight on the Horse-Racing Industry
Tue, April 20, 2021

Shining the Spotlight on the Horse-Racing Industry

Horse racing is one of the most popular spectator sport. It involves jockeys riding on horses over a distance on varied terrains. The one that reaches the finish line first is declared the winner / Photo by: PEO ACWA via Flickr

 

Horse racing is one of the most popular spectator sport. It involves jockeys riding on horses over a distance on varied terrains. The one that reaches the finish line first is declared the winner. The format of horse racing varies depending on certain traditions followed in each country and continent. Much of the sport has remained unchanged since ancient times. However, what many are now uncovering is that cruelty and corruption exist behind the scenes. Horses, more specifically, are subjected to the most questionable activities in order to raise the odds of winning the tournament and receive the prize money.

 

The Popularity of Horse Racing and the Industry Today

According to Hanaeleh, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of abandoned, neglected, and abused horses, horse racing today is no longer just a sport but an entire money-making industry. Horse racing is comparable to endurance or showjumping. In horse racing, the animals are considered as athletes in their own right. The outcome of the race depends on the horses as well, and they participate in many forms of competition that offer large amounts of prize money. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the racing industry has been plagued with doping, misconduct, and cheating. The industry also breeds thousands of horses each year without much regard for the welfare of the animals and what will happen to them after their short racing career. 

According to Statista, an online portal for statistics, there are a lot of enterprises raising horses in the United Kingdom (UK) alone. In 2019, there were 6,335 companies with a turnover size falling within the range of 0 to 49,999 pounds, 5,120 companies with a turnover size in the range of 50,000 to 99,999 pounds, 5,055 companies with turnover sizes from 100,000 to 249,999 pounds, 1,285 firms with turnover sizes from 250,000 to 499,999 pounds, 425 in the 500,00 to 999,999 pound range, 125 with turnovers between 1 million to 1,999 million pounds, 45 within 2 million to 4,999 million pounds, 5 in the 5 million to 9,999 million pound range, and 10 with turnovers between 10 million and 49,999 million pounds. The number of companies that deal with racehorses and other equines in the UK shows that it is a big and thriving industry with many players.

Horse racing is comparable to endurance or showjumping. In horse racing, the animals are considered as athletes in their own right / Photo by: billypoonphotos via Wikimedia Commons

 

In the United States, the horse racing industry is directly responsible for the creation of more than 450,000 full-time jobs and more than $100 billion worth of spending, as mentioned in an article published by brandongaille.com, an online platform for small business and marketing. Indeed, the contribution to the economy of horse racing is undisputed. 

The average horse owner has four horses, and there are around 9.2 million horses in the US today, but only 10% are actually racing. For these, 4.6 million people are needed to fill various positions to make sure that the horse racing industry runs smoothly.

Horses Are Beloved Pets Too

The thoroughbred racing industry is one reason why there are more horses than there is a market for them in the United States. This is the reason for the slaughter pipelines to Canada and Mexico, as shared by Hanaeleh. Andrew Cohen, a contributor for The Atlantic, an American magazine, wrote that there are three types of people in horse racing: the crooks who drug and abuse their horses; those who believe that the sport is completely fair and honest; and those who are neither naive nor cheaters. It is the first group that stains the integrity of the sport despite being a small minority. A recent issue brought forward by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) shone a spotlight on two trainers displaying cruelty to their horses. Steve Asmussen, one of the trainers, was shown in a video using glue on a horse and drugging the animal in order for the horse to become fit enough to play. He also hid all evidence in plain sight. This video gained a lot of negative reactions from most in the industry.

When horses are taken care of properly, they are a wonderful addition to the community both as a beloved pet and as a source of economic stimulus each year. Horse owners are fully responsible for training their horses well and to provide for them / Photo by: Max Pixel

 

Barry Weisbord, the publisher of Thoroughbred Daily News, an online portal for everything about horse racing, said that the industry needs a fourth category of people to provide a check and balance on the situation of racers. There is a bill in Congress being processed to help stop abuse and reform the industry, to stop racing practically baby horses (as the Kentucky Derby is said to race 3-year-olds), to require medical records for the horse, and to test every horse in every race to monitor drug use and overdose.

When horses are taken care of properly, they are a wonderful addition to the community both as a beloved pet and as a source of economic stimulus each year. Horse owners are fully responsible for training their horses well and to provide for them. Dogs may be man’s best friend officially, but horses will not be far behind.