Horse Racing and Dog Fighting?

05 May 2008


So. Anyone else out there see similarities between horse racing and dog fighting? At its root, both the horses and the dogs bear the burden of our desire for entertainment. And when they give their lives in the process, it’s in the name of sport. While I know that I cannot draw a straight parallel between the Michael Vick case and Eight Belles’ death at the Kentucky Derby, they look like kissing cousins. In a cloying New York Times article today, noted author and horse breeder Jim Squires says:

Horses break their legs running across pastures with no one on their backs. Whether wild or domesticated, they race with one another and often try so hard they hurt themselves. They run through fences. They kick each other regularly, often breaking their own legs and those of others. They, too, have to be euthanized. Horses who never saw a racetrack in their lives founder regularly from mysterious causes and end up like Barbaro.

Ain’t that just a paddock full of pony tears. Dogs fight each other too, don’t mean that we should be building pits for it. Or that we should be racing young horses well before their bones are fully formed. Makes me think of an E.T.-era Drew Barrymore on coke. And Squires then asks:

…why can’t we can quit pushing horses into the gate on television and whipping them to make them run? If the trainer can’t train his horse to go in the gate and the gate workers can’t put it in there without force, scratch him. Usually there is a reason a horse does not want to go in there. And usually the horses that want to run don’t have to be whipped. Beating a horse during a race and having it break down under the rider and lose its life is no way to build public support and attract new owners to this sport.

With the practice of beating ingrained in this sport, is it easy to mill about in madras yet detain dog fighting do-rags? All too easy. Read another take on the tragic death of the filly and the brutality of horse racing, penned by the eversage Start Snitching.

I’m off to a bullfight with Hemingway and Almodovar. The bulls like dying this way, ensconced in art, roses & honor.

Related Links:
NYT bit about death by jumping.
Eight Belles/Sean Bell


  1. 5 May 2008 Sean

    I really enjoy when uninformed people share their opinion.

    Real quick: in dog fighting, they are trained & breed to kill. They are not “normal” dogs, most are put down once saved because they have been so severely mistreated. They are essentially abused animals. In horse racing, there’s no need to brainwash horses to run…as you said, they do that anyway.

    And there are regulations against whipping…jockeys have been suspended for over-whipping horses. Though a lot of times, the jockeys use the whips to prevent horses from running into each other or the inside rail. Thus, preventing huge disasters.

    This is why blogs suck. Some idiot like you writes something void of fact, reason and information yet I still feel compelled to respond to your stupidity.

  2. 5 May 2008 lt.winslow

    if only the black community could embrace horse racing more whole heartedly, then we’d finally get it outlawed for sure!

  3. 5 May 2008 Mike

    Hey Sean, he didn’t write that stuff on whipping, the writer was the breeder of the horse that won the 2001 Kentucky Derby, so I’m pretty sure he knows more about horse racing than you do.

  4. 5 May 2008 ej

    sean – jockeys use very short “bats” that would never reach the correct part of a horse’s body to guide a him left or right in order to avoid running in to another horse. Plus, have you ever seen a jockey switch the bat from one hand to the other? So really it would only be useful to guiding one direction (if it was longer) – and that just doesn’t sound useful.

    Also guys… the little lady didn’t die of being whipped or going too fast. Any horse (or other prey animal for that matter) is biologically designed to run hard and fast for long distances. The problem is the AGE at which the horses are starting to race – their baby bones can’t handle the intensity, and break.

  5. 5 May 2008 evan

    I love Sean’s rationale. Listen, whipping is ok, buuuut not tooo much.

    So there is a line in which beating the horse is ok and that one extra whip is what turns it into a negative? You have even too many qualifiers in your argument to withstand the critique of three commenters. Come with something stronger to defend the indefensible.

  6. 5 May 2008 DP

    Co-sign like a mother. I’m gonna kill a dog this summer while I wear a seersucker suit and my boater hat.

  7. 6 May 2008 chris

    Trying to draw a comparison between dog fighting and horse racing is pretty retarded. One has pits for dogs to fight each other, often to the death. If a dog doesn’t do well, they are often killed. In horse racing, they have a track and the horses race each other. When they don’t do well they keep trying or are retired, not killed. You might notice that racing is different than fighting (often to the death).

    Also, horses are bred for speed. Fighting dogs are bred for an ability to never give up when fighting. Again, I hope you can see the difference.

    There are certainly things I would change about horse racing: no whipping, no racing on pain meds and no drugs in general. But the owners have a ton of money invested in these horses, not to mention time and love. To say that greed rules horse racing is absurd–otherwise they would have done everything posible to keep the 2nd place finisher of the kentucky derby alive so they could breed for money. This is like comparing mma and track and field. And making it racial is pretty much the lowest common denominator.

  8. 6 May 2008 james

    “But the owners have a ton of money invested in these horses, not to mention time and love. To say that greed rules horse racing is absurd”

    So which is it?

    The horse needs to win in order for breeding to be worth anything…therefore the decision to race was about greed…more more acuretly stated: greed and glory. The owners of these horses aren’t risking their lives, or even injury. Hell, most of them are so rich that the loss of a million dollar horse doesn’t have an impact on their lifestyle.

    There are racing fans here defending the sport, but don’t bury your head in the sand. This is two years in a row now (not even halfway through the second year) where a horse was killed because of racing. This is just the highest level, the treatment is probably much worse in the lower ranks.

    Your defense appears to be the intent of racing, but the fact is you are forcing animals to do things they don’t want to do, the same as dog fighting…your motivation is irrelevent.

  9. 7 May 2008 MHB

    @Sean: Totally agree with you that dogs are abused far more than horses in their respective sports. But the fact remains that both animals are being physically conditioned and pushed beyond what they would do in a domestic or natural environment and often to a deadly end.

    Beyond that, you have the manners of a cur.

    @Chris: In regards to your comment: “…horses are bred for speed. Fighting dogs are bred for an ability to never give up when fighting. I hope you can see the difference.” Of course there is a difference, and I think that your comparison of dog/horse to MMA/Track & Field is spot on. Racing is far better than fighting, and is not rooted in a celebration of violence & death. But the fact remains that all of these animals are being BRED for the best interest of the owners. Horse owners/breeders surely do love their animals, but that love lies within the rubric of racing, and subjecting their bodies to potentially fatal activity. See EJ’s comment #4. And keep in mind that for every horse who ends up in the winner’s circle, many more are silently shipped to the glue factory.

    @Everyone Else: Thanks for elucidating.

  10. 7 May 2008 JA

    Bike racers are like human horses.

  11. 7 May 2008 Sports Guru

    […] Horse racing, canid fighting, all of it. [Desedo] […]

  12. 20 Jul 2008 mma

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