Horse racing is often a source of controversy, with some people saying that the sport is inhumane and corrupted by doping and overbreeding. Others, however, argue that horse racing represents the pinnacle of achievement for the horses themselves, and that while the industry needs reform, it is fundamentally sound. Whatever the debate, one thing is clear: horse racing remains a beloved pastime for many. In the game of horse race, players place bets based on their prediction of which horses will win each race. The goal of the game is to win as much money as possible by making the right choices. To do this, players must understand the rules of the game, which include paying attention to the track conditions and evaluating the past performance of the horse.
The game is played with dice and a set of cards with pictures of horses on them. The cards have different numbers that indicate each horse’s position in the race. Players begin by placing a bet, then roll the dice to see which horses are scratched from the race. Then, they must select a number to advance. The player who rolls the number of a horse that crosses the finish line first wins the pot. The rest of the players must then select another number to advance until all the horses have made it to the end of the race.
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing lies a world of injuries, drug abuse, and gruesome breakdowns. Pushed to sprint–often under the threat of whips and illegal electric shock devices–at speeds that exceed their natural limits, horses regularly sustain catastrophic heart attacks and break their limbs. A small number even hemorrhage from their lungs, a condition called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In an attempt to hide their pain and enhance their performance, most horses are given a cocktail of legal and illegal drugs including Lasix, Salix, and Nijinsky.
Many of these injured horses are sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada where they are sold for dog food, glue, or human consumption. Only a handful of independent nonprofit rescue organizations and individuals network, fundraise and work tirelessly to save them from these horrific endings.
To truly act in the best interest of the horses, reform would need to be a profound ideological reckoning on both the macro business and industry level, as well as within the minds of horsemen and horsewomen themselves. A rethinking of the entire horseracing enterprise is needed from breeding sheds to aftercare, with special emphasis placed on the creation of a more natural and equine-friendly lifestyle for racehorses. It is a daunting task, but it must be done if the sport is to survive.