Horse racing is a sport where jockeys and their mounts race over the course of a mile or more, around two turns, at speeds that often exceed 30 miles per hour. The goal is to win a prize, usually money, by being the first to cross the finish line. Different national horse racing organisations have their own rules regarding how horse races are run, but most of them are based on the British Horseracing Authority’s original rulebook. The most prestigious races in the world are called Triple Crown races, and winning one of them can elevate a great horse to legend status.
A lot of people love to watch horse races and bet on them, but not everyone enjoys the fact that horses are used for racing. Some people even believe that horse racing is cruel, and that the sport needs serious reform in order to improve the quality of life for its horses.
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing lies a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. In a sport where the most important thing is winning a race, jockeys use whips and illegal electric shock devices to make their horses sprint – sometimes to the point of sustaining catastrophic breakdowns, or even hemorrhage from their lungs – at speeds that can leave them severely injured and permanently disabled.
The first time a person watches a race, they might not be sure what to look out for. A pack of horses running together can be difficult to follow, but there are some basic things that people should know before watching a horse race.
Before a race, all the horses in the field are lined up and given a number. This is to keep the horses separated during the race. After the race is finished, the jockeys must go back to their stables, and a veterinary team will check the horses for any injuries or maladies. Then, the stewards will decide who won the race. If a horse was disqualified or had an illegal action during the race, they will not receive any prize money.
In the past, there was a wide range of medications available for horses to help them do better in the races. Some of these medications were powerful painkillers that could mask any signs of soreness in the horses, while others were powerful legal steroids that boosted their performance. Racing officials had a hard time keeping up with the new drugs, and their penalties were weak.