Horse racing has never been banned
anywhere in the world. Why should it be banned in Israel?
First of all, just for the very reason that it is not yet
established and that there is not yet an embedded industry that
could claim we want to destroy their profit — it's easier to ban now
than to fight later. Second, for all the reasons we detail about
injury and exploitation. After all, racing elsewhere developed in
the days when horses as work animals were common (transportation,
field labor) and before exploitation of animals was recognized as
inherently cruel. This is a different world: the Bundestag in
Germany has recognized that animals have inherent rights; the EU
recognizes the five basic freedoms of animals that protect their
welfare. Since Israel is already free of this cruelty, why allow it
to develop when it really is only for the benefit of a few
developers and at the cost of animals and weak gamblers.
- Israel is a smaller country than England and the U.S. It will be
easier for veterinarians to supervise whatís going on.
The problems we outlined in our petition to the Court were found in
every country where horse racing exists, even in the small country
of Macau, where 300 young horses are lined up and shot in the head,
one after the other.
Veterinarians wonít speak out against an industry that provides them
with a livelihood, but veterinarians outside the industry have told
the truth. Two of our experts are equine veterinarians. The top
California race track veterinarian left the industry a few years
ago, saying veterinarians are pressured by owners to give drugs
against the best interests of the horses. They have no choice if
they want to earn a living, because if one veterinarian refuses to
give drugs, owners will just find another who will.
- Regulating the industry will be enough to protect the horses.
Regulations have never worked in any country where they have been
tried. Drugs given to horses are undetectable, stewards at races
donít stop jockeys from cruelly whipping horses, crimes go
unpunished, jockeys are bribed, races are fixed, and horses are
killed to collect the insurance money. This has all been documented
in media articles and police reports.
- Horses love to run. Itís natural.
In nature, horses run in spurts for short distances and then rest.
They arenít pressured to run beyond their limits, for long
distances, and they donít have to endure grueling training regimens
at the age of 1Ĺ or 2. The pressure of racing is unnatural and it
causes horses to bleed in the lungs, sustain catastrophic injuries,
or collapse and die of sudden death from a heart attack or from
catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries.
- Veterinarians know how to treat these conditions and others. Why
would people who spend a lot of money on horses and who want them to
win races not take good care of them?
As one racing official said, race horses are like a lottery ticket.
If it isnít a winning ticket, or when youíre done with it, you rip
it up and throw it away. Horses are being bred all the time to race.
They train at 2 or even younger; those fast enough are entered in
the big money races at 3 years old; and a few years later, if they
donít break down in training or on the track, their careers are
finished. Even the big prize winners have been found in
slaughterhouses or left to starve to death in a paddock somewhere.
Horses are insured, so if they break down, owners often prefer to
euthanize them rather than pay for expensive surgeries that may not
get them back on the track. Instead, they look to next yearís crop.
The same number of horses enter horse racing each year as leave.
- The conditions you mention (chronic ulcers, bleeding in the
lungs, heart conditions) can all be prevented or treated. Treatments
are getting better every year:
Thereís a paste that's effective in treating chronic ulcers.
Horses who bleed in the lungs can be taken out of the race.
Some studies say human athletes get heart murmurs, too, and it
doesnít affect their performance or their lifespan. Few horses die
of heart attacks on the track.
Chronic ulcers are a pathological, unnatural condition, the result
of the unnatural life of a race horse. Medicine just masks the
symptoms, it doesnít cure the underlying problem. The fact that the
ulcers go away when horses stop training and racing shows that the
training and racing are the problem. Would you advise someone to
keep taking medicine for a medical condition, but not stop the
behavior that is the cause of the condition?
Horses can die suddenly while racing from bleeding in the lungs.
Drugs given to prevent this condition have been shown to be
ineffective. Many studies say that most or even all horses
experience bleeding in the lungs after the excessive, unnatural
exertion of racing.
Studies show that heart murmurs increase dramatically after months
of training and racing. Horses can experience sudden death from
heart attacks in training or on the track. Why should any horse be
pushed beyond his or her limit, even to their death, for greed?
- A recent study shows that training a horse young is good for the
horse. Exercise builds strong bones. And the study shows that
training at 2 rather than later does not shorten their racing
That study was funded by the racing industry, to justify training
horses at a young age. They must train them so young so they can
compete in the big money 2- and 3-year-old races. If they win one of
the big races, the classics, then owners can earn very high stud
fees because people want the fastest horse to sire or give birth to
their next race horse. Prize money is hard to win. Stud fees are
what owners are interested in, for the large profit. Theyíll lose
the chance to get this money if they donít train their horses at 2.
The fact is that yes, exercise builds bones, but it doesnít do
anything for the joints, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons Ė and
thatís where horses have severe problems. Horses are increasingly
bred to have lighter frames (which are less sturdy) and long, thin
legs for speed — these characteristics make them easily susceptible
And the reality on the track shows that the study is wrong. Even the
fastest horses in Europe broke down on the track. Just three
One Cool Cat, sired by Storm Cat, the top sire in the world, was
the fastest horse in the European racing world at 2, but he was worn
out by the time he was entered in the classics at 3. He sustained a
lot of injuries during the races, and didnít perform well.
American Post, the top French horse, was fast at 2, finished at 3.
Denebola, at 2, was the top female horse in Europe in 2003, but
had to be retired the next year.
The strongest, fittest, fastest cannot take such intense training
schedules and they donít make it to the next season. They are
retired, and disposed of, as babies.
While in the past, horses used to be developed slowly and because of
that they had much longer racing careers, nowadays, there is a rush
to get them to stud as soon as possible. Owners must start serious
race training very young so they can tell which ones will be able to
perform well on the track at the classic races. The industry will do
anything it can to justify starting horses as young as 2. So the
industry-commissioned research is questionable because it is biased
to support the financial interest of the industry and does not
represent the reality on the track.
- What you say about so many being slaughtered wonít be true in
Israel. We can sell these horses abroad as pets, or for riding. We
can ask the racing industry to put up some money to provide for
Thoroughbreds have hot temperaments. They donít necessarily make
good pets or riding horses. The conditions at the average riding
facility in Israel are not good, either. There will be thousands of
horses without thousands of places willing to take them. This has
been shown to be true in every other country. The American
Association of Equine Practitioners considers the very large number
of abandoned, abused, and neglected horses, including ex-race
horses, its biggest problem and priority.
The industry has rarely given significant amounts of money for
retired race horses without a fight. An example of an attempt in the
United States to address this problem from within the industry is the
horse retirement program endowed by wealthy breeders and stables and
managed by the Thoroughbred Racing Foundation. This well-funded project
is responsible for over a thousand horses, but in 2011 a large
proportion of them were discovered to be suffering neglect Ė many had to
be euthanized. Reported by The New York Times, 2011:
The small amount the industry gives in
England provides for few horses, and retirement facilities are
forced to turn away horses every day. Most are sent to slaughter.
Does Israel want to go into the business of slaughtering thousands
of horses every year, or into the cruel live transport business,
which is being attacked by animal groups worldwide?
- The next thing you will say is that youíre against riding horses
and they should all just be left to run around in fields. Horses are
working animals, bred for this purpose. They have to earn their
If so many werenít bred every year for racing, the problem wouldnít
exist. We donít have the right to exploit them this way.
- The number dying on tracks is only around 1%.
Thatís a lot of horses. According to a study by Animal Aid, 375
horses were reported to have died on the track in England in one
year, but the real number is probably much higher. The British
Jockey Club refuses to release complete information. In the U.S.,
Sports Illustrated magazine said that in 1992 (the latest year for
which they reported a total) 3,566 horses broke down either in
morning workouts or on the track and had to be euthanized, one
breakdown for every 22 races. If that many people died from a sport,
the sport would end. The number disposed of prematurely is closer to
100%. Even in rich, western societies like the U.S., Canada, the
U.K., and France where grazing land is available, racehorses are
rarely retired. Only a very small fraction of them are able to live
out their lives as breeding horses, and only a small percentage are
placed into private hands for a reprieve for a few years. In the
final analysis, almost all horses entering the racing industry are
slaughtered for one reason or another before they are 6 years old.
- There is terrible abuse of horses in Israel. The racing industry
will bring more money into Israel and this will mean more money to
take care of the horses and for research.
Despite the large profits earned from treating race horses like
commodities, it was not until 2000 that the British Race Horsing
Board — in the face of mounting criticism — set up a scheme to
provide funds for retired horses. Since then, it has made much of
its project, Rehabilitation of Racehorses (RoR). Yet in fact, the
amount donated is only a token sum compared to the profits earned by
the three major bookmakers, and far too little to solve the
extensive problem. Carrie Humble, who runs a rehabilitation centre
in Lancashire for Thoroughbreds, told The Guardian newspaper in 2002
that she is still forced to raise more than 70% of the funding she
needs herself, and turns away two or three horses every day. "It's
getting worse, not better." she said.