When natural need has been stripped away from race

When we first moved to Australia, I had no idea what the
Melbourne cup was. To be honest I assumed it was just another sporting event
where people kicked a ball around trying to get in some goals. Imagine my surprise
and horror when I found out that it was a sport, but instead of fans cheering
when their team won, it was supporters condoning the blatant abuse of horses.

The Melbourne cup is marketed as a fun day out for
Victorians to witness “the race that stops a nation”. The media has fabricated
this painful day into one that most people perceive to be a day off work where
they can treat themselves to drinking, gambling and have a chance to wear
tasteless outfits complete with garish hats. These people then indulge in
watching horses being pushed past their limits and whipped mercilessly by their
money hungry owners, all the while claiming that it was a good show. To me, it
was disturbing to see Australians actually enjoy watching those defenseless
animals being placed under unimaginable pain and stress.

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At its heart, racing subjects horses to an industry rife
with drug abuse and injuries. Racing coverage does not show the horrifying
behind the scenes of training these horses to race. Horses as young as two
years old start the strict regime, where they are exposed to excessive training
even before their bodies have fully matured. This results in detrimental health
effects where they experience stomach ulcers, torn ligaments and tendons,
dislocated joints and even fractured bones. Even during a race, their heart
rates can soar up to 180 beats per minute, which is ridiculously unnatural
considering a horse’s typical heart rate is 38 to 40 beats per minute.
Furthermore, being herd animals, horses require social and environmental
stimulation which comes from being together in large groups and roaming around.
This basic and natural need has been stripped away from race horses, which are
forced to spend majority of their days locked up in stalls with no chance for
interactions, therefore resulting in more detrimental psychological effects which
may lead to them injuring themselves.

And where do you think these horses go when they’re no
longer useful? Some lucky ones would be sold for riding or events but most
would be sent off to the abattoir or to knackeries for slaughter. After winning
races and being subjected to grueling training, older and injured horses are repaid
by being thrown away because they are considered “wastage” and are no longer
profitable to their owners. The wastage occurs even before horses make it onto the
tracks. The industry breeds a high number of horses in order to increase the
chances of producing a champion. Those who prove to be useless because of
injuries or poor performance are rejected and sent off to die. This is a fine
example of how the human race exploits animals for their own personal gain
before discarding them when they have lost their value. In their eyes, horses
are seen as dollar signs, simply another means to make money. It is absolutely
disgusting to see these gentle creatures be used merely for human greed and
pleasure.

What’s surprising to me is that while Australia does not
tolerate brutal treatment of animals in entertainment such as zoos and
circuses, the same courtesy has not been extended to horse racing.  Only in racing do we still let humans whip
animals. Australians still cheer at the races while horses are forced to pound
down the track with metal nailed to their hooves and a jockey on their backs
repeatedly striking them with a whip. This abuse I suppose is driven by money,
more specifically gambling.

On Melbourne Cup day alone, racing generates an estimated
$1.5 billion in economic value. With the prospect of winning big at the races, it
is no wonder why people support the cruelty. Not only does horse racing
exacerbate the gambling problem in Australia, it pushes racehorse owners to introduce
drugs and stricter training so as to make a quick buck. People turn a blind eye
towards the brutality of horse racing because of its multi-million dollar
industry. If a person were to whip their dog or cat, they could be prosecuted
for animal abuse. However, this punishment is not extended to the owners who
whip their horses, but rather deemed ‘necessary’, therefore exemplifying the
double standards money and wagering creates.

The glamour of horse racing and events like the Melbourne
cup and the spring racing carnival allows people to overlook the dangers of
problem gambling, and as long as the public supports horseracing through
gambling and patronage, the cruelty and death will continue. 137 horses have
died on Australian racecourses between July 2016 and July 2017 alone. Regal
Monarch, the latest in the long line of dead horses, is yet another victim of
the cold hearted industry he was born into. How many more tragic deaths do we
have to take before Australians realize the insensitive and horrific nature of
horse racing?

Don’t bet on cruelty. Don’t support this industry
motivated by financial gain and prestige. It may be considered a sport but
there is nothing “sporting” about the event that promotes mass brutality and
exploitation of horses.