(Original post by kiss_me_now9)
Well, you quoted me...
Personally the biggest problem I have with racing is that a percentage - a minority or majority depending on the side of the fence you sit on - of the horses are ill treated behind the scenes and cast off once their career is over. I don't agree with a lot of the practices around racing that don't occur or don't occur as much in other equestrian sports:
- Race horses are started at 1.5 years old, sometimes less depending on when in the year the horse is born as all racehorses are given the official birthdate of January 1st. That essentially means you can have a 3 year old horse running against 3 years and 11 month old horses which is a massive difference not only in the mentality but also the physical maturity of a horse. Horses should not EVER in my opinion be ridden before their 4th birthday, 3.5 years old at a push as their bones don't strengthen fully until around that age, but that's something that most horse people will never agree on and something racing industry definitely ignores. In other horse sports, especially jumping in the UK (not so much on the continent, they start everything young out there) most producers will give the horse time to grow and mature until they break them. Racehorses don't get that.
- Race horses that don't make the grade - the 2, 3 and 4 years old that aren't quick enough - aren't just sold on all the time, they're more often than not sent to slaughter or across the channel for human consumption (you cannot slaughter a horse for human consumption in the UK). Racehorses that do not make the grade and are sold on are sold cheaply and so often end up in the wrong hands; young girls who have never owned a horse before and don't know what to do with them or how to deal with them, people who don't have a clue how to train them. This leads to someone getting hurt and the horse being passed on again at a cheap price, into someone elses hands who can't handle them, until someone gets really hurt and the horse gets put down. It's not the cheaper horses this happens to either, you can breed a really expensive racehorse and it doesn't make the time so the producer sells/slaughters it. In other disciplines they're often sold on as unsuitable for that job but suitable for another; an eventer that doesn't work well over show jumps is sold on as a hunter, a dressage horse as a show horse, that kind of thing.
- Racing is all about the money. No matter how you put it, those jockeys would not be riding those horses in such a manner if they weren't in a race. Dressage, cross country, riding, driving, showjumping are all disciplines that have the horse at the heart of them - they're about the bond between rider and horse not just who comes first. Often riders will say that they've 'had the ride of their lives' on the course even when they haven't won. You rarely hear a jockey say that.
- Horses do not, whatever anyone tells you, enjoy running in a herd as fast as ****ing possible. That's the human equivalent of someone putting a blindfold on you, in a small dark pen, and then opening the gate so that you run forwards and find a group of other people running screaming far away from where you came. It's terrifying; horses carry on running when their rider falls because it's their natural instinct and you know what? The last horse in the wild gets eaten. Nom. However, watch a 3 month old foal in the field and they'll leap and jump things on the floor and perform dressage moves that take years to train because that's how they express themselves. Running = fear.
Obviously some massively sweeping generalisations there, but that is just some of the reasons why I don't consider racing to be part of equestrianism or something I'd ever want to support, unless it was rehoming a racehorse that had been discarded.