What is a Horse Race?
A horse race is a competition in which horses compete for prize money. The sport is popular in the United States and Europe, where it is called a “steeplechase”. In a steeplechase, each horse must navigate obstacles over a course of several miles, and jump them (if present) in order to complete the race. The horses are ridden by jockeys, and the winner is the first to cross the finish line. There are many different types of horse races, including the Triple Crown series (Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes).
In addition to the monetary prizes, horse racing offers prestige and status. The sport has a long history of social inequality, and the elite races such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Caulfield Cup in Australia, and the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina are widely considered to be among the most important events on the international racing calendar.
The vast majority of thoroughbreds are raced only once, and often not more than once, during their lives. As a result, most suffer from injuries and illnesses that can end their careers. These conditions range from mild to severe, and are caused by the pounding they endure during training and racing as well as the stresses of travel and competing. Despite the best efforts of trainers, jockeys, and veterinarians, horses can suffer catastrophic and often fatal injuries.
Moreover, the number of horses who die tragically on-track is unknown, due to a lack of government regulation, record keeping, and transparency in the industry. However, it is estimated to be in the thousands, and is much higher than in other sports. The 2008 death of Eight Belles, who was injured in a race and died of her wounds, is one of the most publicized horse tragedies in recent history.
As a result, there is a growing global movement to end horse racing. This movement has prompted major reforms in the US, including the creation of a national database of equine deaths. But it will take a far-reaching ideological reckoning on the part of the entire industry to truly prioritize the welfare of horses in every aspect of its operations, from breeding to aftercare.