Horse racing is a worldwide sport, involving thoroughbreds competing to win a purse. Its roots go back to ancient Greece, and it has influenced cultures from Asia to Africa, appearing in legends, fables, and even in modern-day art. While some critics argue that the sport is inhumane and corrupted by doping, others believe that racing is an important part of society and deserves to continue.
In addition to attracting spectators, the sport is an important economic driver. The industry employs over 200,000 people, and it provides significant tax revenue to state and local governments. However, despite its popularity, horse racing is facing declining revenues. The loss of betting customers to other gambling activities, as well as scandals relating to safety and doping, are major factors. In the United States, where horse racing is a highly regulated sport, many new would-be fans are turned off by the sport’s image.
The sport requires massive, specialized training that begins when the horses are just foals. A thoroughbred’s bones do not reach full maturity until around age 6, and they must be raced while still growing. This puts the animals at risk for injury and breakdowns, and it is no wonder that only a small percentage of thoroughbreds win the Triple Crown of races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Behind the romanticized facade of horse races, a world of injuries, drug abuse, and gruesome breakdowns lurks. Spectators wear fancy clothes, sip mint juleps and cheer on their favorite horses, but in reality they are watching animals running for their lives. The horses are forced to sprint—often under the lash of whips and even illegal electric shocking devices—at speeds that can cause serious and often fatal injuries, including hemorrhage from the lungs.
While some people find the sport entertaining, others view it as inhumane and cruel to the horses. The horses are bred to be fast, and they are not allowed to rest during their lives. Moreover, many are injected with drugs that can cause severe health problems for them and their riders. Moreover, they are forced to race too soon—when their bodies have not yet fully matured and when they are vulnerable to a wide variety of physical and psychological problems.
The sport also has its own set of unique rules, which include regulating a horse’s weight and the number of races it can run in a year. Moreover, the rules can also dictate a horse’s gender, sex, and training. Acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into specific points on the body to stimulate or realign electrical fields, is another common practice in horse racing. Other techniques used to promote healing and performance enhancement are massage, liniment application, and the use of herbal supplements.