Is Horse Racing Cruel?

Among all animal sports, horse racing is probably the most glamorous in terms of image. However, there are noteworthy issues that have been brought up by animal rights activists in relation to the industry. The primary question that has been raised is simple: is horse racing cruel? Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward, especially when the economic and cultural value of the sport is concerned. However, there are various cruel and illegal practices in the industry that violate animal rights.

Irresponsible Drug Usage

Horses like other animals will sustain injury from time to time due to physical training or even accidents. Ideally, the race animals should rest and receive treatment before returning to their normal routine or the race track. Unfortunately, some trainers will use strong or unnecessary drugs to mask the pain of the animal and keep the horse moving. In addition, there is a notable practice of using illegal drugs such as steroidal substances to increase performance capacity. This will always lead to the decline of horse health.

Underage Racing

The age at which a horse should start racing is a major issue of discussion between animal rights activists and horse trainers. When horses start training when they are too young, they are often at a high risk of injury. Basically, the internal skeletal system is not fully developed and is still growing. Therefore, the body is not ready for the physical stress imposed, and the strain will curtail proper and healthy growth to adulthood.

Harsh Training Conditions

The training for horse racing is intense and often involves multiple regimes to achieve maximum physical output. The hard training can to painful and irreparable muscle and skeletal injuries. These include torn tendons and ligaments, fractured bones and even dislocated joints. The horses are also fed using high concentrate grains in most of the training centres. This type of food is not ideal for long-term use by horses and it has been linked to gastric ulcers in race horses. In ideal circumstances, the animals should have access to extended grazing pastures.

Mental Stress

Horses are sensitive creatures, so they will often suffer from mental stress due to their living conditions on the race track. Basically, most of the animals are individually stabled during training seasons and competitions. This is a practical and economic choice because daily transportation is time-consuming and expensive. Unfortunately, the horse will not have social or even environmental stimulation in these conditions. Therefore, the animal is likely to develop destructive behaviors such as self-mutilation and crib biting due to the stress.


When horses are no longer capable of competitive racing, they will have to retire from the race track. In ideal circumstances, these horses should be able to live a slower paced life in a farm or the general countryside. Unfortunately, this does not happen in most situations. The horses are often sold and sent to slaughterhouses and their meat is used in the production of dog food or horse meat.

All the outlined reasons are evidence that horse racing can be a cruel industry. However, the practices detailed above are not standard; each horse owner and trainer chooses how to handle their animal. One can choose to treat their horse like a commodity or a beautiful sentient creature.



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Basics of Horse Training

Training a horse can be a challenge. Horses are strong, fast, and dangerous. They often engage in “bad horse behavior” that leaves their owners frustrated and confused. The fact is, most people don’t know where to begin training a horse. In this article, we’re going to discuss foundations; that is what you should start with when it comes training a horse and what can you accomplish?

If you’re not a leader for your horse, when you’re out riding he’s bound to make his own decisions! If something scares him, he’ll take off at the first opportunity. Horses always seek out escape routes, and they feel the need to do it. So the first step in training a horse is establishing leadership.

If you’re a leader for your horse, then he’ll think twice before making any crazy moves. And if he sees you as the alpha of the herd, he’s less likely to engage in bad horse behavior. The only question is how you can get this leadership?

Fortunately its a lot easier than you would think. Dominant horses do things like move other horses around and get in front of horses that are of a more submissive bent. Experts have figured out exercises you can do when training a horse to put yourself in this leadership position, by kind of mimicking behaviors of the dominant horse.

The fact is the way you handle a horse on the ground says a lot about who’s in charge. When you go through a gate, does your horse patiently wait for you to pass through, or are you a bit worried he might crash through and knock you over? When you’re leading the horse, does he blow past you? If you see these kinds of cues, then its important to work on your leadership with the horse. Round pen training is one of the best ways to do this.

Once you’ve laid down a foundation of leadership the next step to take when training a horse is to teach basic commands or cues that will be used to direct motion during riding. These cues are called the “basic yields.” Basic yields are used to tell the horse to move a certain body part in a certain direction. For example, we might want him to turn and change his direction to his right. So we would apply pressure to the forehand on the left side. Horses move off pressure, so he will yield to the pressure and move to the right. That’s the concept of a basic yield. It can be done on the ground or in the saddle.

Before riding, a solid communication line needs to be set up between you and your horse. A great way to do this when training a horse is to focus on lunging. In the old days, lunging used to be mindless-have your horse run around in circles at high speed to wear him out. We now recognize that safety isn’t going to come about from some attempt to burn off his energy. Instead, safety comes from having a horse that listens to commands and respects you as a leader.

Saddle training a horse can begin once leading, yields, round pen, and lunging have been completed. The first part of saddle training is repeating what we did on the ground. After teaching the horse the basic stop and go commands, you’ll go to asking him to yield the forehand and the hindquarter.


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How to care for horses 

Horses are very strong animals. They are amazing animals that can be very good companions if they are well taken care of. They can also be quite complicated. That is why it is very important to know how to take good care of your horses so that both you, and your animals are happy. If you have never taken care of a horse before, it is very important for you to take your time to learn more about horses and how to take good care of them before you take the big step. Caring for horses is not something that is hard as many people think it is. Here are the things that you need to do to care for horses;

1. Provide a good shelter

Horses are hardy animals. They can survive in both warm and cold environments. However, this does not mean that you should not make an effort to ensure that you provide them with a decent shelter. It is very important to ensure that your horses are living in a decent shelter if you want to keep them healthy and happy. Protect them from cold and wind. You have to make sure that your horse have a comfortable place to live in. You should check their shelter on regular basis to ensure that there is nothing that can harm them.

2. Ensure that you are giving the horses the right foods

You have to make sure that your horses have a constants supply of clean, fresh water, salt and food. Horses are grazing animals. They can eat grass the whole the day. This means that you have to provide adequate food to your horses throughout the day. Hay forms the main component of a horse’s diet. You may not need hay if green pasture is available to your horses the whole day. Remember, the amount of food that a given horse needs depends on size and the amount of exercise that he is getting. A horse that bigger and more active will require more food than one that is smaller and less active. If you are not sure about which foods are good for your horses, it will be best to seek advice from your local veterinarian.

3. Horse grooming is very important

Horse grooming is just as important as good nutrition. You should groom your houses regularly to ensure that their coats are in good condition. Grooming your horse also gives you the opportunity to check for ticks, cuts and general health. While grooming your horses, you should never forget to check their hooves. This helps you to ensure that there are no pebbles stuck on the lower side of the hoof. There are times when fungus grows can grow on the hoof, especially if a horse spends a lot of time in wet areas. Moving your horse to a dry place may be all that you need to do to get rid of the problem. However, there are times when you will be forced to over-the-counter anti-fungal medication.

4. Seek professional help from time to time

You should have a qualified veterinarian check your horses from time to time and whenever you have a problem.


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History of humans working with horses

There are many theories that exist today regarding the history of humans using horses for work. Human association with horses go back as much as more than 6000 years ago and there is not enough evidence to prove for definite as to when and where humans started to work with horses. Today a lot of horses live in human habitats when compared to those in the forest and we now breed them, shelter them and use them for work. In this article, let us check out the interesting history of humans working with horses.

Initially, horses were hunted by cavemen for eating their meat as it gave them a sustainable source of diet full of energy. A great amount of research studies suggests that about 6000 years ago horses were first domesticated by humans in the Europe and Central Asia regions. In those days, donkeys were mostly used for transportation and carrying burden from one place to another. When compared with donkeys, horses have much more power, stamina, speed and strength for longer periods of time. When humans came to realize that horses are just not animals to be preyed upon and could be used for other purposes, history was reinvented. As per social historians the classification of horse eras are as follows:[i]

Horse Eras

· Era of Consumption (50,000BC to present)

· Era of Utilization and Status (4000BC to 1900AD)

· Era of Herding (3500BC to present)

· Era of the Chariot (1700BC-400AD )

· Era of the Cavalry (700BC – 1942AD)

· Era of Agriculture (900AD – 1945AD)

· Era of the Carriage (1700AD-1920AD)

· Era of Leisure – (1900 to present)


As per historians, horses were first harnessed for their power and speed by humans around 4000 BC and this allowed humans to travel much faster compared to covering great distances on their two legs. Humans realized that horse power could be used to travel for longer duration and will help them to gain better modes of transportation by saving time. Horse soon became man’s best friend due to the capacity and strength displayed. Keeping horses helped nomadic tribes to gain control over their herds of cattle in a much more efficient way. Nature has designed horse’s digestive system in such a way that it is able to eat and then digest the food by running and does not require a break in between meals like other animals.

Sedentary cultures were used to driving with sledges using a draft animal and so they preferred to use horses for sledges rather than ride on them. It was much later that horse with wheeled carriages started to be used for transportation purposes and moving goods. It is believed that in China around 2000 years ago, horses started to be used for warfare. Around the 13th century Mongolians used horses with chariots and archers fought being mounted on horses. Later on European troops too started to mount horses for battles and they used metal plates for protection as armors. Right after the voyages by Christopher Columbus, native Indians realized the importance of ‘horse power’ and also started breeding horses looking for great traits and lineage.

With the invention of the steam engine, horses became less used for transportation. Now horses are widely used either as a status symbol, for utility purposes or sports and till today cavalry is an integral part of any nation’s military strength.


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Horses in literature and art


Before we talk about horses in literature, we need to fully understand what is literature. Literature is the creative writing of a nation, people, group or culture. It simply means history. Now in literature we have the different stylistic devices used but in this article we will deal with symbolism.

Horses in literature and art

Now a horse is one of the symbols used in literature. If you have a closer look at the horse you will be able to identify that some of its characteristics are similar to those of man. Some of the characteristics include; fertility, sensitivity, strength, selfishness, anger, stubbornness and stupidity. Those characteristics are the ones that create a natural companionship with man in both work and art.

The natural companionship with man involves serving man in war, horse racing hunting, and also in agriculture in some places. So literature is really history and we find that a horse contributes to a bigger part of history. For instance, if we go back to the olden days, we find that there were no things like vehicles so people mainly used horses as their means of transport when going to war. A horse also played a big part in civilization. Some people may wonder just how did it contribute to civilization? Well, long ago, the horse was just like any other wild animal. However, people started to domesticate it and the domestication was wide spread during a short period of time.

Horses are mostly used in children’s literature because children relate well with animals so it will be easier for them to understand the part of literature that is being taught to them. Come to think of it if you give a child two parts of literature to read one you have drawn a picture of a horse and the other just plain, the child will likely get attracted to the one with a horse picture on it.

In literature the beauty of the horse is an aspect. However, each color of a horse has a different meaning. For example, a black horse represented mystery, death, night and secret. A white horse represented light, sun, resurrection and also day. Sometimes horses are related to the sun, moon and water. They act as mediators between earth and heaven. Horses also symbolizes power. For example a person riding a white horse shows that the particular person is a hero or a savior. So a horse has a very rich history with humankind.

Literature mostly deals with culture and we find that a horse has different meanings in different cultures. In Celtic culture, the horse is used as a symbol of war and victory. The Greco-Romans used horses as symbols for honor and virility. In Hindu culture the horse is linked to their god varuna and a white horse is believed to be the final incarnation of vinshu. In Chinese culture, the horse symbolizes love, endurance and stability

In poems, you find that poets have used the horse to represent emotions. This is even quite evident in some of the most notable pieces composed.

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