Written by PETA
Most of you probably remember the tragedy at the 2008 Kentucky Derby, in which a young filly, Eight Belles, was whipped mercilessly in the final stretch, only to break both her front ankles after she crossed the finish line.
At that time, we called for the racing industry to eliminate, at a minimum, some of its most abusive practices, including permanently banning the use of whips.
In an encouraging sign, California's Del Mar Racetrack has just announced that it has officially banned the use of hard leather whips and will only allow softer riding crops on the track. These softer crops will not sting or leave welts on horses like traditional hard leather whips do.
All whips should be banned outright, but considering that this reform comes on the heels (hooves?) of similar improvements by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, it seems that the industry is getting the message that "business as usual" won't fly anymore.
Of course, while these are steps in the right direction, the racing industry is still far from humane. Young horses are still forced to race before their bones are fully mature, horses are pumped with drugs so that they can run while injured, and "retired" racehorses are still sent to slaughter—and these are just some of the many abuses that horses endure in the racing industry. The only way to stop the cruelty altogether is to end horse racing once and for all.
Written by Jeff Mackey
I'm sure that once her career was over, Shawn would have been sent off to Japan and ground up into dog food anyway.
Written by Shawna Flavell
Our recent undercover investigation, which revealed exactly what happens to horses abandoned by the coldhearted racing industry, has been picked up by a variety of news outlets, but we were particularly glad to see this piece featured on ESPN's Outside the Lines:
Maybe now more sports fans will recognize that horse racing is anything but sporting—especially for the thousands of horses who meet tragic ends every year—and perhaps they'll join us in calling for an end to these abuses.
Written by Jeff Mackey
In 2002, the 1986 Kentucky Derby champ, Ferdinand, was slaughtered after his breeding days in Japan were done.
Fast-forward to 2009: Two more horses, Charismatic and War Emblem—Kentucky Derby champs from 1999 and 2002 respectively—may also face slaughter as their usefulness to breeders comes to an end.
After breaking his leg in the 1999 Belmont, Charismatic was sold to breeders in Japan. His value as a breeding stallion has dropped dramatically (to approximately US$5,000), and he has been moved to the lowest-ranking of breeding farms.
Just a few years ago, horse-racing fans cheered as Charismatic and War Emblem ran away with top prizes at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Now, PETA's most recent undercover investigation shows what could be in store for these once-celebrated stallions and thousands of other horses sold into the Japanese thoroughbred industry.
Each year in Japan, more than 20,000 horses, including many horses once used for racing, are slaughtered for dog and human food. This video shows the slaughter of a young thoroughbred. As stated in the New York Times, "The video is disturbing. It shows in graphic terms what happens to the unfortunate thoroughbreds who become spare parts in a contracting industry."
You can blame the U.S. horse-racing industry for the carnage. It routinely breeds tens of thousands of "surplus" thoroughbreds every year, then sells thousands of them to breeding facilities in Japan. More than 2,000 U.S. thoroughbred horses and breeding mares have been shipped to Japan since Ferdinand was slaughtered in 2002.
Just last year, Americans watched in horror as racing filly Eight Belles suffered fractures to both her front ankles and was euthanized just moments after running the Kentucky Derby. How can anyone not be disgusted by the shuffling of thousands of horses off to Japan and into slaughterhouses?
Join us in defending former Derby and Preakness champs Charismatic and War Emblem—and thousands of other thoroughbreds. Demand limits on breeding and a ban on the export of horses to Japan.
Written by Karin Bennett
The Queen of England has gone and found herself at the center of a "doping scandal."
More precisely, it is Moonlit Path, her horse, who is at the center of the dispute. Trainer Nicky Henderson has been charged with allowing the 6-year-old horse to be injected with tranexamic acid—a substance that prevents hemorrhaging and is banned on British racetracks. (The drug is allowed to be administered in advance of a race, but it must have cleared the system by race day.)
And why exactly would trainers need to prevent hemorrhaging? Could it be that racing puts such an extreme stress on horses' bodies that heavy internal bleeding and blood clots are common? You bet. Horses used for racing also often develop bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers from being forced to perform far beyond their natural physical limits. Oh, and let's not forget about all the horses who are raced to death.
PETA Europe is writing to the Queen to remind her that—drugs or no drugs—horse racing is a cruel "sport" that should be relegated to the history books.
Written by Shawna Flavell
The deaths of three horses in two days of jumps racing at the Warrnambool Carnival in Victoria, Australia, has shocked so many Australians that jumps racing has been suspended indefinitely and may be banned in Victoria (it's already banned in all states and territories in Oz except Victoria and South Australia).
Supporters of Australian jumps racing, including racing minister Rob Hulls and Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines, are of course claiming to be concerned about safety. Warrnambool Racing Club's Andrew Pomeroy chimed in that the club had done "all it could" to make the course safe.
Apparently, "all it could" wasn't quite enough for Pride of Westbury, who crashed in front of the grandstand and suffered a broken neck; 8-year-old Hassle, who shattered a leg bone; or 9-year-old Clearview Bay, who also broke his neck when he fell after a jump.
We say go ahead and ban jumps racing, and then make its mouthpieces run several miles and hurl themselves over a few dozen hedges and fences in the horses' place. Now I'd pay money to see that!
Written by Alisa Mullins
How anyone can still tune in to watch horse racing, especially after Eight Belles broke both her ankles and was euthanized at last year's Kentucky Derby? Well, some mint julep–sipping, tacky hat–wearing folks still do—and for them, this past week was another showcase of horse horrors.
All of the above occurred at just one track during just one weekend, but injuries and death are routine at racetracks.
Anybody want to guess what the upcoming Preakness and Belmont Stakes have in store for horses?
In PETA's new ad, Joel Gibb of Canadian indie band The Hidden Cameras announced that "Canada's Club Scene Sucks." and he's not talking about JELL-O shots.
Today, Joel and the band teamed up with PETA for a public unveiling of the ad in front of Queen's Park in Toronto.
The Hidden Cameras performed a short acoustic set, during which fans sang along to "Animals Belong Alone." The chorus goes like this: "We take and take, we know it's wrong. The earth belongs to animals, and animals belong alone." The performance must have been a good one, because a group of people at the park to protest the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka even joined in.
Talk about compassion bringing strangers together!
Click here to find out more about my new fave band, the Hidden Cameras.
Here are some photos from the event:
Bodies may not be buried at Churchill Downs, but with so many horses having drawn their last breath there after having been run to death, it might as well be a cemetery. And for two days it will be, because PETA has erected 265 headstones outside the racetrack this week.
Why 265, you ask? We included 263 headstones to represent the horses who have died on the track since last year's Kentucky Derby and whose names we know, one headstone for the approximately 832 other horses who have died but whose names are not known—because racetracks are so bad at reporting breakdowns and deaths—and one headstone for the approximately 12,000 thoroughbreds who are sent off to slaughter each year.
Churchill Downs is, of course, home to the Kentucky Derby and is where Eight Belles lost her life one year ago. Since the Eight Belles tragedy, Churchill Downs has made some reforms in the ways that horses are treated on its track, but banning the use of legal drugs to mask injuries hasn't been one of them. PETA is calling on the people who run the track to ban the use of all drugs in the week before a race. By bringing attention to the thousands of lost lives that don't make headline news, our display will hopefully inspire horse-racing officials to take action.
After all, by my calculations, the horse-racing industry has caused 13,095 horses to die this past year. That's enough to fill a cemetery plus some.
Update: Check out these pictures from the unveiling, then go browse more art by Dan Lacey, who painted the gorgeous picture of Eight Belles.
Curious about the names of the horses who have died on racetracks during the past year? Click here.
It seems that people are getting wise to how the horse-racing industry causes horses to suffer and die, and they're staying away from the tracks in droves. The most recent casualty is Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. Pimlico's owners have gone bankrupt, and it now appears that the state may take possession of the track.
With the death of the racing industry looming, we're asking Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley for his help in turning Pimlico into a horse empathy park. Pimlico should serve as a memorial for the thousands of horses who have died in pursuit of "the roses" (such as Barbaro, who died following his excruciating injury during the Preakness, held at—guess where?—Pimlico). The notorious racetrack can become a center where people can experience what it's like to be a "champion."
If Governor O'Malley comes through, visitors could tour educational displays about horses, see exhibits of painful bits and spurs, and even experience blinkers, whipping, and the "fun" of racing around a track with a heavy weight on their back. If it helps shut down more racetracks, I can't think of a better way to spend a vacation!
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.