Horse racing has been around for hundreds of years, continually drawing many enthusiasts to the action-packed, lucrative sport. It is a different story, however, for many of the horses.
Hundreds of racehorses die every year after being subjected to intense training with little rest. In 2018 alone, 493 thoroughbred horses died in the US, according to the Jockey Club in America. Majority of the deaths were due to limb injuries, followed by respiratory, digestive, and multi-organ system disorders.
A broken leg is often a death sentence for the animal. Horses have little soft tissue in their legs, which is why broken legs take time to heal and could even result in an infection or a shattered bone. Since horses can’t support their weight while their legs heal, they also risk laminitis, a painful, life-threatening hoof condition. This is why the usual response to a horse with a broken leg is to euthanize the animal.
Racehorses can also be exposed to harmful, performance-enhancing drugs that allow them to run faster through pain regardless of their body condition. Industry experts believe that an independent body should be set up to regulate racehorse medication and ban them within 24 hours of racing if appropriate.