March 21, 2014

Horse Racing & PETA

I've had to play with the idea of writing this blog. I work in the industry and my name is easily associated from my blog and social media outlets. However, at the end of the day, I am a horse owner, lover, racing fan and lover of the sport. I live in the USA, and for first time in my life, I'm playing the freedom of speech card. I need to vent, I need to write. 

PETA and horse racing have a long standing relationship. When something happens, have no fear, PETA is there. I am all for animal rights, I do not believe in using them in laboratories, abuse, etc. However, my problem with PETA and horse racing comes from the lack of facts provided in the past. 

Thoroughbreds = bred to run. While some are lazy, most thrive in a racing environment. The true horsemen of the sport take extremely good care of the animals. Without the horse, there is no sport. I could go on and on about why I don't think the act of racing itself is a problem and how the daily life of the horses living at a track isn't all that bad, but it's not my purpose here. If people want, I'm happy to write about it in it's own place in time. 

Here are your articles from yesterday:
There is zero doubt that in the NY Times article, there is some disturbing video and the fact is, it's over a talented horse that died. The owner of the horse is distraught and has vocalized his feelings on Twitter. This is also an owner who I feel, is known for truly loving his horses. They have also removed any horses under this trainer from races they're already entered in - something I admire. 

I find myself torn reading all these articles and putting myself in the heat of social media. The main trainer in question is one I particularly despise. Again, I could go on listing out reasons and why I think he is a terrible trainer and not so great for the sport. I should note, he's not the only one I feel this way about, but he rotates with two others for who's in what position of my top three. However, I also despise PETA for historically not getting their facts together before reporting, but I suppose at the end of the day, that is the heart of reporting only one side of a story. 

The biggest thing taken away, is the sport NEEDS reform. Drastic measures. We're the only country / region that uses race day medications the way we do. Yet, the organization that should step up as our national governing body, doesn't. How does a single individual like myself promote change? Significant people, not insignificant me, in industry want and know the change is needed. Yet I feel like no one person is really standing up and being vocal enough. Great things have happened in all types of history, small and large scale, when people with a cause are together on the same issue so why isn't this happening?
War Front sums up how I feel. Taken in 2007.
I know that my blog is sport horse based, and many of my readers are not as passionate about horse racing, but we all know the Thoroughbred is one of the most influential sport breeds so this still has a home here. And it's still something I have felt the need to vent and question myself and my own voice over. 


  1. I completely agree with everything you just said and feel the same way. Thank you for writing this. I'm tired of PETA using the specific people and instances to condemn the entire industry. I'm also tired of the people that PETA uses as an example making all of us look like a bunch of butchers. I agree that there needs to be serious changes made. If you don't mind, I would like to share this as I believe there are a lot of people out there that feel like you and I do.

    1. Happy for you to share.

      There's been 5 years in between our major PETA outcries on the industry. Steroid changes were made and a bad apple of the game is sort of gone since, but I don't feel that is enough. 5 years from now I'd love to believe that when PETA finds something to complain about in the industry we can have a long long list of things that have changed for the better of the industry and sport.

      Honestly I feel the first step is going to be medication reform because it's on the front burner, in the hot seat. We cannot move forward until that's done. If this country wants to run the sport as a business like it has for the last 30 years while others still run for the game, then look at the statistics. No one runs a business without looking at the numbers. Lets look at the lasix statistics and the things it's doing to the individual horse and breed/sport as a whole. We formed the basis of our sport around European racing and we still crave the European lines. Yet we're the least significant country on an international stage across seas. If we want the last 30 years of racing in the US to mean something, we need to pull our horses of lasix yesterday. Otherwise the last 30 years will just go down as a giant mistake, lets do something about medication while we have a chance for these bloodlines we've created to prove they can run without lasix.

      This is where a national governing body would be nice.

    2. I agree with you on that too.

  2. I agree US TB racing is behind the times, and some of the recent changes were done without enough time to consider the repercussions (track surface changes). I defend racing a lot to my sport friends because they only hear the bad things, horse racing is probably the most natural of all the horse sports, because in the wild horses run, they don't piaffe, jump big fences, or slide stop.

    1. Couldn't agree more. The public eye of the sport has changed even in our short lifetimes. Long gone are the days of people flocking to the track to see a certain horse run. Out current 'national body' only focuses on this. But it's a band-aid to the real deal.

      The general public only sees things like the PETA statements. I have coworkers that barely know racing exist outside staff days to Keeneland twice a year, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup - and they work in the industry. So when people are only seeing negative attention, its what they associate. Lets fix the negative so that people realize what a great sport it is.

  3. Love this post!
    Thanks for sharing Allie, I've really enjoyed reading the comments too but sadly do not feel I can add to the debate as I am simply not educated enough in racing practices. I used to be more involved in breeding & sales side when I was in Ireland but nowdays I bear and see very little. Heck Cheltenham was on last week and like previous since I moved it here it completely passed ne by without my seeing a single race nor knowing any of the winners names