Wandshara (FR)

Editorial: View from the Wall


We will continue to hear about more studies and attempts to improve racing safety—adjustments to hurdles, racing surfaces, training methods, medical and rehab treatments, drugs, and rules and regulations. These can change, but no one can change the Laws of Nature.

We can’t change the horse’s anatomy, genetics, and vulnerabilities nor predict a bad step, collision, or awkward jump. We can’t control all the variables that come into play as horses in full flight run for their lives in close company and with riders on their backs. We can’t change the risk factors, and wishful thinking doesn’t help. Meanwhile, insanity is doing the same things over and over again yet expecting different results.

If we are going to play the game, then can we at least admit we are also willing to gamble with horses’ lives and overlook their suffering enough to enjoy ourselves? Can we stop calling a breakdown, fall, or attempt to jump the rail “a freak accident that rarely happens”? Stop making excuses or deflecting our responsibility by blaming someone or something else for our horse’s demise? Stop pretending we can make racing safer?

On this Memorial alone, there are over 4,000 horses confirmed to have paid with their lives, and counting. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Could we at least finally admit these fatalities will continue, business as usual, period? In almost 12 years of researching fatalities—reports interspersed with safety investigations and necropsies performed to “understand why it happened”—we have yet to see any difference.

As long as organized racing continues, so will fatalities. What is the solution? We think the answer is too obvious to mention. But the end won’t come anytime soon. It would take a change of heart, individually and collectively, toward the horses to the extent that, in time, the sport itself would fade into the distance and finally disappear.