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Grand National--evil ?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.

Should horse racing be banned ?

The horses are well cared for. Racing does not bother me.
2
11%
I enjoy having a flutter. Never thought about horse welfare.
0
No votes
Don't care one way or the other.
1
5%
I think Horse racing may be cruel but I dont think it should be banned.
8
42%
Yes. Cruel and disgusting. Ban racing now!
8
42%
 
Total votes: 19

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Oxfordrocks
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Grand National--evil ?

#1 Post by Oxfordrocks » April 5th, 2008, 4:23 pm

Talking to workmates yesterday I discovered that a fair few of them (5 from 20) regarded horse racing as cruel. The Grand National was accused of being the cruelest race in the country.

With the hype (and the money) surrounding this race today I was wondering what your view of horse racing is.
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jaywhat
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#2 Post by jaywhat » April 5th, 2008, 4:42 pm

Reasons for agin it
- injured horses are usually 'put down'
- like dressing up to go hunting, it is embarrassing being a human being
- it's only for gambling and that should be on the list of addictive drugs
- it interfers with real news that I might be interested in (slightly)

Maria Mac
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#3 Post by Maria Mac » April 6th, 2008, 1:17 am

Should there not be a distinction drawn between racing on the flat and having to jump over things? It's not a subject I've thought much about but my impression is that there has been far more injury to horses in the Grand National than in the Derby. I don't know enough about the subject to decide whether horses love or hate racing but I hope all the horses that have won me a few quid in the past enjoyed doing so.

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Ninny
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#4 Post by Ninny » April 6th, 2008, 10:00 am

A corrupt business, above the law. And cruel.

DougS
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#5 Post by DougS » April 6th, 2008, 12:52 pm

I'm not convinced horse racing per se is cruel. They've been bred for over six thousand years to want to run and if they didn't like it they wouldn't run. They're well fed, closely monitored and receive excellent vetinary and farrier care. I see no evidence of cruelty in the training methods either.

Howver, wherever there are animals, there will be some human cruelty and neglect going on somewhere. That needs to be stamped out but it's not a reason for banning it.

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Ninny
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#6 Post by Ninny » April 6th, 2008, 5:27 pm

DougS wrote:I'm not convinced horse racing per se is cruel. They've been bred for over six thousand years to want to run and if they didn't like it they wouldn't run.
Horses haven't been bred to run - it's what they do in the wild, over long distances. And they run round a racetrack because the jockey smacks them if they don't.

Sillycat
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#7 Post by Sillycat » April 7th, 2008, 3:46 pm

I don't think horse racing is cruel in general, as has been pointed out before, they are very well cared for, mainly because they are valuable rather than out of concern for the horses, but the outcome is the same.

I should also say that the majority of trainers and jockeys have great respect, even love, for the animals they work with. With owners it is different because a lot of them have little personal contact with the animal and can be percieved as merely a possession to some.

A few years ago there was a big furore over the Grand National because of it's ferocity and the high numbers of horses having to be put down due to injuries. Their solution was to alter the jumps and the course slightly, and it was somewhat successful in that there are less accidents and injuries.

Horses do love to race, that cannot be denied, they love to run and as they are pack animals running in a pack is extremely natural to them. In the wild they would injure themselves and die slow and painful deaths (a horse with an injured leg in the wild is vulture fodder, I'm afraid.). I'm not saying that it's okay that they get injured whilst racing but at least when they do they suffer very little.

The only thing I strongly disagree with in horse racing is the juvenile racing. It is generally accepted in equestrian circles that a horse will not be physically mature enough to carry a human being on it's back until around the age of 3, however, the racing industry seems to believe that thoroughbreds are exempt from this rule as they race horses much younger than 3, which can lead to deformaties and joint problems later in the horses life.

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jaywhat
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#8 Post by jaywhat » April 7th, 2008, 5:09 pm

Yes. 174 put down in one year.

Nick
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#9 Post by Nick » April 7th, 2008, 6:07 pm

I think horse racing is a complete bore, but I wouldn't ban it, either flat racing or steeplechasing. However, I do wonder if the Grand National (and maybe some other races, I don't know) are too high a risk of injury, and hence cruel in that sense.

More exciting and convivial and, for the punter, indoors :D is an evening at the dogs. However, I am concerned that many are put down if they aren't successful racers. I know that is somewhat illogical, considering my views on cattle etc., but there it is.

In both cases, I think the animals love it. When I was a lad there were 2 retired racehorses in the field next door, owned by a vet. When they were let out in the morning they galloped round and round the field. And on her daily walks my dog ran and ran and ran.

Gambling can be a terrible addiction, but if we banned gambling, what else would become fair game?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#10 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » April 7th, 2008, 7:30 pm

I think that horse-racing can be cruel, but I don't think horse-racing should, or could, be banned in the UK. Apart from anything else, it would be hypocritical. Why should we be more concerned about horses than we are about cattle, sheep or pigs? I have a particular fondness for pigs, which are far more intelligent than horses. In the UK we allow most of them to live in the most restrictive of conditions, and deliberately breed them with short legs and huge bodies so that in the worst cases they can't even walk properly, let alone run. Ah, but that's different, people say. We don't keep pigs like that just for pleasure; we do it for food. Yes, food that gives people pleasure; food that's not necessary to sustain life. What's the difference?

Besides, cat- and dog-owning can be cruel, too, and in most parts of the world that's done for pleasure, not food. Apart from extreme cases of violence and neglect, there are many ways in which pet owners can be cruel. Many dog owners don't give their dogs anything like enough exercise; a shocking one in four UK dog owners admit to never exercising their dogs [---][/---] BBC Inside Out). Dogs, even more than horses, love to run. And yet in this country so many of them don't even get the chance! And on top of that, people overfeed their pets, or feed them the wrong kind of food. They don't get medical conditions attended to by a vet. They let their dogs wander around off the lead near traffic. Millions of dogs and cats must die avoidably, because of the way they are treated, by owners who claim to love them. But it's not perceived as cruelty. We're a nation of animal-lovers, after all. We're quite soppy about our animals. And if we inadvertently kill our pets, well, at least they die quietly, out of the public eye. They don't do it dramatically on the TV. :angry:

Anyway, I don't think all horse-racing should be banned, any more than I think all pet-owning should be banned. But maybe some of the laws we have to protect animals could be more rigorously enforced. And perhaps it's time the RSPCA got some government funding.

Emma

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Alan C.
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#11 Post by Alan C. » April 7th, 2008, 8:39 pm

Emma, while I know very well you're not talking about all pet owners, I must respond on behalf of the majority of people who take the welfare of their pets very seriously.
Apart from extreme cases of violence and neglect, there are many ways in which pet owners can be cruel. Many dog owners don't give their dogs anything like enough exercise;
My dog/s are very well exercised not least because I enjoy the exercise as much as they do, only in the severest weather do we not go out walking/running, on those days they have to "make do" with the garden, but as the garden is a third of an acre and completely walled, I think that's sufficient on those odd days.
a shocking one in four UK dog owners admit to never exercising their dogs — BBC Inside Out). Dogs, even more than horses, love to run. And yet in this country so many of them don't even get the chance!
That's an appalling statistic, I really think all potential pet owners should be vetted (no pun intended) as to their suitability to care for an animal, perhaps an interview with someone from the RSPCA? (a small fee payable?)
And on top of that, people overfeed their pets, or feed them the wrong kind of food.
I make all our dogs food myself, including the biscuits they get as a treat, they don't get any processed food and our dogs are always fit and usually long lived. (I have a recipe that was formulated for me by an animal dietitian at the Edinburgh Veterinary collage, if anyone would like it or the biscuit recipe, PM me)
They don't get medical conditions attended to by a vet.
I wish I'd kept track of the money we've spent on vets over the years, just three operations (two on the same dog) amounts to more than £1,200, I've just paid the latest bill for x-rays and blood tests £139.44, no wonder our vet runs around in a Range Rover with personalised registration, and I have a Citroen C3 :laughter:
I'm not disagreeing with anything you're saying Emma, just putting the other side :wink:
And perhaps it's time the RSPCA got some government funding.
I couldn't agree more.

Nick mentioned Greyhound racing, back in Cumbria I had a good friend who trained/raced Greyhounds, small scale, he used to race at Workington and Gretna, but when the dogs are "past their best" (no longer winning) he can't bring himself to get rid of them, neither by re-homing or any other method, at one point he had 13, of which only 4 were racing.

End of rant. :D
Edited to add.
Sorry the above has got nothing to do with horse racing, on which I don't have strong feelings either way.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Alan C.
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#12 Post by Alan C. » April 7th, 2008, 10:45 pm

I forgot to mention, we are totally against so called puppy farms, and always take dogs from rescue centres.
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Bryn
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#13 Post by Bryn » April 8th, 2008, 9:54 pm

Is there a case for making people apply for a pet license?

As for racing, I wish people would stop thinking of animals as if they were humans. Race horses, unlike other breeds, are indeed bred to run as fast as possible and I see nothing to suggest that they don't enjoy racing. The whip isn't akin to 'smacking', it's barely a nip on an animal weighing 900 kilos. A horse will not tolerate being abused by a little guy on top of him and won't run if he doesn't want to.

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Alan C.
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#14 Post by Alan C. » April 8th, 2008, 11:41 pm

Bryn
Is there a case for making people apply for a pet license?
I think there is, wonna argue? :wink:

If you you take on the stewardship of "owning" an animal, ( and I don't like the phrase "owning") as more often than not it's the animal that owns YOU, then you must afford that animal the same level of respect that you do do to us, the human animal.
We're all just animals after all.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#15 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » April 9th, 2008, 12:25 am

Bryn wrote:As for racing, I wish people would stop thinking of animals as if they were humans. Race horses, unlike other breeds, are indeed bred to run as fast as possible and I see nothing to suggest that they don't enjoy racing.
But just because a horse has been bred to run fast doesn't mean that its body can cope with the stress of running very fast occasionally but spending most of its time stabled. Have you read Animal Aid's reports, "Bred to death" and "RIDING FOR A FALL [--][/--] The genetic time bomb at the heart of racing" (2003)? Of course, you'll be able to pick holes in them, and they're clearly not unbiased, but they're pretty detailed and supported with data and testimony from within the industry, and I think they both make for an interesting read.
The whip isn't akin to 'smacking', it's barely a nip on an animal weighing 900 kilos. A horse will not tolerate being abused by a little guy on top of him and won't run if he doesn't want to.
And there's another Animal Aid report, "A HIDING TO NOTHING [--][/--] The use of the whip in British horse racing" (2004)? Again, you'll find fault with it. But it is thorough, and if nothing else it might begin to persuade you that whipping is pointless.

Emma

Sillycat
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#16 Post by Sillycat » April 9th, 2008, 11:25 am

When you see a jockey whipping a horse during a race I admit it looks so terribly cruel and I'd even go so far as to say that some jockeys rely on the whip rather than good riding to win a race which is bad practice.

The trouble is that the majority of people who are against the use of whips have never even held a whip let alone rode a horse. Horses are stubborn, they are not particularly intelligent for their size yet they have free will and will do extremely dangerous and erratic things, and a whip is sometimes essential to propel the horse forward and out of danger, particularly when riding on the road. My view is that a whip should ONLY be used on the rear, behind the saddle, to encourage forward propulsion, not as a punishment and certainly not on the kneck or head, and certainly not from the raised arm movement that most jockeys use. A flick of the wrist is all thats needed. There is also a lot to be said for the less in more theory, the more a horse is whipped the less it responds to it, so yes, using it sparingly will probably work better than repeated use throughout the race.

The whip does NOT hurt the horse, how do I know this? Well most riders have at some point or another gone to use the whip behind the saddle and missed and hit their own legs, so I know if it doesn't hurt me it certainly won't hurt the horse.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#17 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » April 9th, 2008, 2:18 pm

Sillycat wrote:The trouble is that the majority of people who are against the use of whips have never even held a whip let alone rode a horse.
But some people who are against the use of whips have ridden a horse. There's a forum on Equine World where the whip issue is being discussed. One participant says, "... going into racing next year, i know that i will endeavour to keep use of the whip to the utmost minimum, try to set an example of whipless racing, because of working with horses who are traumatised from whip abuse. even though racehorses are in full gallop, they still feel pain, and can, and do suffer mental upset when being backed up with a whip to great extent."
The whip does NOT hurt the horse, how do I know this? Well most riders have at some point or another gone to use the whip behind the saddle and missed and hit their own legs, so I know if it doesn't hurt me it certainly won't hurt the horse.
From the Animal Aid report I cited above: "In 1996, champion jockey Willie Carson spoke with admirable clarity about how he encouraged his mount, Alhaarth, to second place at Newmarket in 1996: 'I gave him six cracks, and I wouldn't like to lie down on that side tonight.'" Hmm. Maybe he was joking. Or maybe he meant that he was putting a bit more welly into it than usual ...

The whip issue may be a red herring (although I'd still urge you to read "A HIDING TO NOTHING"). I have more concerns about certain other aspects of horse-racing that are raised in the other Animal Aid reports I cited, including the issue of racing two-year-olds, which you mentioned in your earlier post. Here are a few other points they make:
  • Some 15,000 foals are bred for racing in Britain and Ireland every year, but only one third are deemed sufficiently strong and healthy actually to be entered into racing. Most of the rest are discarded ...
  • Serious racing-related illnesses such as bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers are now endemic. 82% of flat race horses older than three years of age suffer from exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH), which can cause blood to leak from the nostrils. Gastric ulcers are present in no fewer than 93% of horses in training, in whom the condition gets progressively worse. When horses are retired, the condition improves.
  • The top breeding stallions are so over-worked that two of the three most coveted males both died in 2001 from suspected exhaustion ...
  • Rather than confront the endemic problems that lead to thousands of horses every year failing to make the grade and hundreds more dying from race-related injuries and disease, the industry is looking for 'answers' by commissioning grotesque laboratory experiments on live horses. Recent examples include animals being made to walk for months on treadmills and then killed for analysis ...
  • The picture that emerges from this Animal Aid investigation is of a racing industry that now has much in common with livestock production. Both enterprises are committed to profit-driven mass output of progeny and the acceptance of a high 'wastage' rate. In both industries there is an excessively heavy burden on breeding stock and high rates of endemic disease and musculoskeletal injury. The key difference is that the fate of sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens is limited to being mass produced, killed and eaten. They are not also required to serve as high-performance athletes.
  • Though Thoroughbred horses are inherently fine runners, the increasing burdens placed upon them by the racing industry militate against their ability to perform, and amount to extreme, cruel and unsustainable treatment.
Whether we want horse-racing to be banned or not, it won't be banned because it has a powerful industry lobby group behind it as well as the overwhelming support of the general public. Millions of people watch the Grand National on TV every year. Millions of people bet on it, even if it's only as part of an office sweepstake. And that's the race that's considered to be the cruelest. Horse-racing is apparently the second most popular sport in the UK in terms of attendance and TV viewing (after football). If racing and and breeding racehorses is as cruel as the Animal Aid reports claim, then public opinion and public behaviour need to change. If it's as unsustainable as the reports claim, then maybe the industry will be the instrument of its own doom.

Emma

Sillycat
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#18 Post by Sillycat » April 9th, 2008, 3:18 pm

Hi Emma,

I agree with a lot of what you say. With regard to the whip, I know that if it is used in the correct way, it does not hurt the horse, but obviously if a jockey is raising his arm far out behind him to hit the horse it's going to hurt more than a flick of the wrist. It's not the whip thats the problem, but the person using it and the industry that encourages it to be misused.

I am especially against racing immature horses, that to me is one of the worst things about horse racing.

What I would do, given the opportunity is ban racing under the age of 4 and make sure that any jockey found to use the whip in front of the saddle or actually raising their arm to use it would be banned from racing for a period of time, repeat offenders would be banned for life.

I suppose the whole issue is a profit vs ethics one, and given the evidence so far I can only assume that (particularly in todays society) profit has won, but I still hope that it will change.

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Oxfordrocks
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#19 Post by Oxfordrocks » April 9th, 2008, 8:36 pm

Thanks for all your answers on this subject.
The result of the poll was not unexpected, personally I voted for the bottom option. I hadn't really given race-horse welfare much thought before but after looking at different websites (animalaid.org,PARC, all-creatures.org) I can see there is a lot wrong with the horse racing business in the U.K, Ireland and elsewhere.
Of course, talking about cruelty in sports also asks questions of grey-hound racing as well. (I notice that the R.S.P.C.A. has a campaign for racing greyhounds but not for horses)
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grammar king
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Re: Grand National--evil ?

#20 Post by grammar king » April 10th, 2008, 12:48 pm

The whip is only allowed to be used on the final stretch, is it not?

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