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What happens when non-horse people write about the horse industry?


Bad things, that’s what.  If you don’t know horses (and here by “know”, we mean you’ve been tossed off at least 5 times!) then you sure as shit shouldn’t be writing about them.

And with that introduction, we give thee “Should Horse Racing Be Considered A Sport”.

This piece was published on sympatico.ca, written by one Katharine Watts.  First of all, we would like to know what experience she has with horses, racehorses to be specific, that allows her to write on the subject with such authoriteh (Cartman reference!).

After reading that article, we’d like to expand our definition of knowing horses.  If you haven’t seen a track injury (we feel that having a 1000+ pound quadruped convert your ribcage to jelly is comparable to “the thrill of a crushing body check”), haven’t researched bute (slightly harder-core than Tylenol, but significantly less than a T3 – neither of which, by the way, enhance athletic prowess), and back all that up with absolutely no knowledge of breeding and/or genetics (We’re fairly confident Ms. Watts got “breeding” confused with “cloning” in her article.  Hey, it happens.  Those are two very similar terms.), then perhaps your calling lies elsewhere!

“If an inexperienced jockey was given a talented horse, it’s almost certain he would win over an experienced jockey with a lousy horse.” Any jockeys out there want to comment on that one?  Obviously neither of us are jockeys (although it was JG’s dream as a kid!), but from our layman’s perspective, we feel racing is kind of like doing chess while running a sprint, not that horses have individual lanes to run in…  It’s up to the jockey to steer through openings and guide the horse – taking advantage of that particular horse’s running style (field leader or closer?), the conditions of the field (hard, packed dirt vs. mud, if the footing is different at the rail, etc.) and known tendencies/styles of other jockeys.  All the while utilizing core strength rivaling that of gymnasts to stay on a horse moving at speeds upward of 30mph – some over 40mph.

In the same paragraph, Ms. Watts goes on to say that she got her information on the “jockey’s duties” from an online magazine which advertises itself as a source for politics, business, technology, and the arts – see for yourself at slate.com – oh sure, it has a sports section, but if the magazine itself doesn’t feel the need to advertise that fact, it’s clearly not their forté.

On performance enhancing drugs:  “Drugs that, although legal, can also mask pain or make a horse run faster.” Really?  Let’s wiki this shit, shall we?  Lasix is used to prevent racehorses from bleeding through their noses – it’s a bit controversial and could be contrary to the horse’s health so we’ll let you have this one Katharine.  Phenylbutazone, as wiki tells us, is used for “short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals.”  Bute is actually one of the seven NSAID’s approved for use by the USEF (that’s United States Equestrian Foundation for those who can’t be bothered to do even passable research).  And lastly, we have corticosteroids.  An article from The Horse, published in 2008, gives a good overview of the use of these intra-articular steroids vs. anabolic steroids; basically medicinal vs. performance enhancing.  Not sure where the idea that any of these three can make a horse run faster came from?

And lastly, there’s the issue of racehorses going to slaughter.  What does that have to do with whether or not horse racing should be considered a sport?  Because people treat the horses who have worked most of their lives for them like crap means racing isn’t a sport?  What does she think will happen to the Thoroughbreds if there’s no horse racing?  Can you even conceive of the immediate jump in horses that would go to slaughter by ending the racing industry?  We do have many issues with horse industries that only value an animal while it’s young, but it’s hardly a relevant arguement in regards to whether racing is a sport!

Ms. Watts concludes her article (using that term quite loosely these days) by posing the question “Is horse racing a sport, or just animal cruelty?”  Which is kind of misleading because she clearly doesn’t want an answer from you; she goes on to say, among other things, that “athletes choose to be there, animals don’t—and they definitely don’t choose to be mistreated.”  Hey, we agree with that last part! Buuuuut have you ever seen a Thoroughbred run?  Most of them love it.  Actually most horses love it.  Think about it.  Put a bunch of horses out in a field together and what is typically one of the first things they do?  Ok, aside from rolling!  They run!

So, with all that in mind, we say to Ms. Katharine Watts, please do us all a favor and don’t write about horses until you’ve at least sat on one, or have found a horse-related website you use for your research rather than an online magazine dedicated to a politics, business, technology, and the arts.

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About snarkyrider

We're snarktastic

Posted on December 15, 2011, in Misc Horsies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Mine That Bird-Calvin Borel…….Enough said. When pertaining to horse talent vs jockey talent.

    It’s a sport.

    • Mine That Bird may have been lacking conformation but he wasn’t lacking talent or heart! We wanted a Birdstone colt and were going to buy mine that bird, but we went to look at him and saw a homely looking crooked legged thing and decided to pass. Instead we decided to buy another good looking shiney and solid with a far superior dam at the same sale for $22,000. mine that bird i think sold for $9500, it was in that range anyway. The Birdstone we bought couldn’t out run a fat man in rubber boots. We haven’t bought another Birdstone since….. Lol!

  2. First of all, racehorses damn well CAN run without bute – they aren’t allowed to run on it in Europe and I personally am opposed to the *routine* use of bute (every horse on the card on it?)…I think it may cause horses to run through injuries thus making those injuries worse and increasing the risk of breakdowns. Routine (daily) bute use can eventually cause liver problems. Bute should be given when a handler can reasonably determine that a horse needs it – I’m fine with a dose AFTER a hard race, or after a three-day event, etc, when the animal probably is somewhat sore and might appreciate it.

    That aside, this all reminds me of when I was in college.

    The AU president at the time, a rugby player (Rugby players are even tougher than American football players…THEY don’t wear armor!) insisted that horse riding should not count as a sport because ‘the horse does all the work’ and wanted to remove the AU subsidy from the equestrian team (a team that had recently sent an individual rider to the World Student Games…) because it was ‘not a sport’ and ‘elitist’.

    I’m not sure exactly how it was managed, but the team captain managed to convince him to come out to the barn for a ‘free sample lesson’. One hour on Abbey (half draft and not exactly the most forward horse ever foaled) and he never said one word about horse riding not being a sport again…

  3. I hate racing. I’m not going to comment on that article because to be honest, I didn’t read it. I will tell you though that the industry is extremely corrupt, but then again, most are these days. What bothers me the most is how early these horses are started. A horse should not be sat on until they are four, and not put into heavy work until they are six, as that is when their final bones are done fusing. Please please please read this: http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf

    Yes, horses love running, but it is not fair to make them run at such fast speeds for that long of a distance at that age only tracking left. Because they always run in the same stupid direction, the bone on the left side actually is more dense, which leaves them prone to injuries later on in life if they are used in another discipline. Again, PLEASE read that link. Here i another good one:http://newsblaze.com/story/20080511141907tsop.nb/topstory.html

    Another huge thing that negatively impacts the racehorse industry are poor breeding practices. When any animal is bred for a specific trait, in this case speed, other traits are often ignored. The sad truth is that a lot of these horses cannot stay sound due purely to genetics, whether it is because they are inbred or just only bred for speed.

    • That’s my pet peeve too. We’ve been getting all pissy at people working two year old ponies, meanwhile the entire racing industry is making two year old horses work a shot load harder and drugging them up to hide the pain while they’re at it.

    • I’m not a big fan of racing either. I think he age at which you start a horse would depend on its breed and the sport it will be intended for. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to start a horse or dressage at 3, because it actually helps them built up muscle, but I would wait longer to start a racing or showjumping horse.

      While there is corruption in most equestrian sports (if not all), the racing industry is definitely the place where the horses well being is most neglected. Nobody cares for the longevity of the animals, as long as they keep winning. One day are no longer able to run or start loosing, they can always be traded for a “newer” model.

      Nevertheless, saying that hose racing isn’t a sport because the horses do all the work is still pretty damn retarded…

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Michaela.

      Horse people need to stop saying that you need to have special knowledge of horses to determine if something is cruel. This is a p-poor argument and only discredits you. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that race horses live miserable lives only to end up at the slaughter house. I do think that is cruel.

      However, race horses are not treated well and most of them live short painful lives. Then there is the entire gambling aspect which is bad too. So I really hope that racing does disappear for good.

      Yes I’ve owned horses for a few decades and I guess I know a thing or two. I also have inside knowledge of the track and all the creepy people that are associated with it.

      Furthermore, although I don’t know anything about monkeys, I certainly know when one is being abused whether it is Hollywood or a lab. I mean come on please again not rocket science.

      • I think you may be missing the point. The snarky rider team is not saying that there isn’t animal cruelty involved in racing or that super special horse knowledge is required to identify abuse. They are pointing out that this author has clearly not done the research expected of a professional journalist and has published misleading and false information in her article.

        Misinformation is bad, even if it being used to support a position you like.

        I would also like to point out that some special information is necessary to identify abuse. I know several non-horsey people who would be shocked to their animal-loving core if they saw me give the fat pony a thump on the rump for trying to kick me. I would hope that anyone familiar with horses would know that that is not abuse.

        My mother-in-law, who’s horse experience starts and ends with watching westerns, was appalled at the pulling contest at the county fair. “They’re so upset!” she cried. I tried to explain that the horse teams we were seeing were in fact extremely excited about their jobs. The ears pricked forward, eager expressions, and intense concentration were indications that someone with “special horse knowledge” would know meant engaged and focused horses enjoying their job.

      • Yes, Im in the barn 12 hour days 7 days a week 365 days a year, because I want my horses to have a miserable existence. That must be it. I also spend the little bit of spare time I have retraining retired tbs and rehoming them because i want them to be miserable and go to slaughter. God knows I make a ton of money doing it to….. (that was sarcasm by the way). You obviously don’t know a thing about horse racing and enjoy spewing the propaganda PETA tells you to spew if you think race horses are treated badly. If you’re going to say things like that, name names, not an industry as a whole. Im not saying what you said DOESNT happen in horse racing, but it’s not common place nor is it acceptable. Plently of disgusting and unethical things happen to show horses and back yard pets alike and they happen just as often if not more. The difference is they don’t have the media all over them like horse racing does.

      • Um, HOW can you tell whether monkeys are being abused in Hollywood or in a lab? Have you ever even been around Hollywood or lab monkeys? Can you identify any species of monkeys (without using Google first)? Do you understand anything about various species’ behavior? I’m going to bet when you’re talking Hollywood “monkeys,” you’re really thinking chimps and orangutans which shows me how little you really know about these issues. So, while it’s not rocket science, you DO need to have an understanding of these animals and it’s pretty obvious that you do not.

        I don’t think Joe Schmoe can identify most inhumane treatment of most animals. You HAVE to understand what you’re looking at in order to determine whether it’s OK or not. When somebody doesn’t have a substantial amount of direct experience with a particular type of animal but wants to write off something s/he sees as abuse, it’s not the mouth that s/he’s talking out of . . .

  4. Painkillers can make a horse run faster by masking pain- if they cannot feel the hurt, they will not slow down to protect themselves. Hence, worse injuries! But the owners and trainers don’t care one wit about that, because hopefully the horse will win them some purse $ while running on his bute- and when the injury gets worse, there’s always the slaughterman for a final profit! Bye bye, horsey! Who’s next?

  5. I would say that jockies, pound for pound, are among the strongest of all althletes. She makes it sound like they sit in the jock’s room smoking cigars and researching the track conditions. I dare say, it also takes alot of guts to get up on a 17 hd. TB, who’s blood is up, and try to control it from a tiny little racing saddle, with just the tips of your toes in the stirrups, not to mention the life ending danger that is all around you in a race. If the fall doesn’t kill you, the horses around you can. It makes football players with helmets and padding look like wussies in comparing the dangers.

  6. “If an inexperienced jockey was given a talented horse, it’s almost certain he would win over an experienced jockey with a lousy horse.” *head-desk*

  7. I don’t agree with the racing industry’s practices, but that article made me *headdesk* so hard. I don’t believe she has any knowledge about the racing industry. It sounds like she overheard someone from PETA slamming it, did some cursory research (on non-equestrian sites) and slapped together an article. Ridiculous!

    I absolutely believe racing (and other equestrian events) are absolutely sports. It takes a very high level of athleticism to compete at the levels she’s talking about. I wonder if her only experience with horses is a trail ride where the horse shuffles along nose-to-butt with the horse in front of him and the riders slump in the saddle like sacks of potatoes. It’s the only logical explanation (if logic can even be used to analyze an article like that!).

    Also, the “A-Rod” she talked about? His name is Alex, not Anthony (which is what she calls him at the end of the article). I wonder if she copied and pasted the text on the first page, where she used his name correctly. I mean, he’s only one of the highest-paid and most well-known athletes in North America. I don’t even follow baseball and I knew that. How do you miss that?

  8. This article upset me enough that I used their “feedback” function to highlight the article’s misinformation and the author’s obvious lack of understanding. Unfortunately they only give you a limited number of characters but I figured that it would hopefully get someone’s attention that they were publishing misinformation on a supposably reputable news site. Most of the comments on the article highlight it for the crap it is but I’m sure editors don’t read article comments. If this bullshit upsets you and you have a moment I suggest you send a little note via the feedback button. It’s a long shot but if enough people send a concerned little note maybe they’ll “talk” to Ms. Watts about her “research”.
    As my dad likes to say “You’ve got no right to bitch unless you’re willing to be part of the solution”

  9. When people start waving the flag that ANYTHING that is done with any animal belongs in the cruelty column, they are animal rights idiots and you can stop reading, or talking, right there because any glimmer of knowledge can upset their rowboat and they will not have it.

    Just to be clear on this – some of the things that I have seen advocated as must-stop cruelty included, collars and leashes for dogs, crates for dogs, fences for horses, barns for horses, commercial feed for any animal (ok that one is probably close), toe nail trimming, horse shoeing….. these come to mind just from my own experiences of owning (cruelty!!!) dogs and horses.

  10. So,,,, I LOVE that particular episode of South Park…. almost as much as the dog whisperer one!

    That is it, all I had to say 🙂

  11. Katherine Watts has done a lot of research on horse nutrition and she does have horses. So yeah, I think she may have a clue about horses.

  12. I agree that the article has many flaws. However, the premise that horse racing, being a money-making sport, causes animals to be treated in a way that is far from their best interest, is completely sound, IMHO. Case in point: the ‘in tack’ pre auction races for young racehorses. Watch pictures of their legs cracking in half in the video: it’s enough to make you puke. I agree that some ‘animal rights’ issues are ridiculous, but this is one that could use some reform.
    http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/tags/horseracing/default.aspx

  13. I am actually part of the racing industry, so I wanted to comment.
    1. Is it a sport? don’t care. Refering to it as a sport changes nothing about the industry.
    2. Is the jockey doing anything? I agree that if the horse is vastly supior to the rest of the field, a monkey could ride it and still win. If the field is evenly matched, the jockey is going to make a big impact.
    3. Is it cruel? Mostly no, but as in everything, there are some bad seeds. Most stables do their utmost to keep these horse fit and sound…if the horse is unsound and unconditioned he cannot win races. Most barns will xray knees, ect before racing their 2 year olds so they know if they will be able to hold up. However, I do agree that racing 2 year old should be abolished and stake races should be for 3 & 4 year olds only. But, 2 year olds competing is also common in every other horse event. These horses are also being examined by vets and farriers on a weekly basis and lots of $ is being pumped into their care.
    4. Are all racehorses drugged? Not anymore than any other athlete. I do not deny that some stables are taking the easy way out and using dangerous chemicals to enhance their performance, but there are a lot of rules/testing in place to limit this. Most of these horses are getting electrolyte drenches, blood building suppliments, injected joints and breathing aids…most of which are legal and common in any “people” sport.
    5. Do these horse end up at slaughter plants? A small % of these horses do end up there, but that is typically an absolute last resort. Some tracks will even ban any trainer whose horse goes to slaughter, and this has been enforced, even after 2 ownership changes. These horses are part of a business, and breaking a horse down and selling it for $100 to a kill buyer makes no business sense.
    Is the racing industry perfect? No. As in anything where $ is involved, there is going to be people trying to cheat the system. Are these people the majority? Not hardly…they are just the ones that everyone is going to notice and talk about.

    • Casey, I think when you are part of the industry your perception of what is bad is more than slightly skewed. Yes there are very bad people doing anything (many stupid horrible things) to their horses and compared to them most everyone else is a saint. The whole industry is bad and from my experience it is the majority because abuse has become normalized. I totally disagree with your business example with $100 kill buyer sale making no sense. Of course it makes sense – it makes perfect business sense because keeping a loser, injured etc horse costs money. Kill buyers are a means of disposal. I would rather flip burgers at MacDonalds than work in any capacity at the track and I would earn about the same amount of money.

      • I would love to know which racetrack you got your experience in the industry from. Every racetrack I have been to has horses that are well cared for.
        My business model actually makes perfect sense. If I was consistently buying horses for $5000 (cheap horses), paying my trainer $2000 per month, along with $500 in vet bills, farrier services, groom services, it is in my best interest to keep that horse fit and sound. If the majority of my horses are breaking down or are noncompetitive, and therefore, going to the killers, I would not be in business for long.
        And just for clarification, I am/have been part of a lot of different disciplines including dressage, hunter/jumpers, AQHA. I have never seen anything in the race industry that didn’t also go on in the other industries.

      • This:
        “Casey, I think when you are part of the industry your perception of what is bad is more than slightly skewed.” (Abby House)

        …is a fair point. However….

        This:
        “I have never seen anything in the race industry that didn’t also go on in the other industries.” (Casey)

        …also a fair point that sorta disproves the latter quote a bit.

        I like, Casey, that you agreed they are run to young. And you’re right, it happens in plenty of other sports. I also liked how you said it doesn’t matter whether its a sport or not. I actually chuckled a bit at that.
        There are tracks out there that will ban owners for slaughter. I’ve heard of it before. However I also lived in Kentucky for a short period and visited auctions there and its not even so much the raced TBs that you find, but the ones that didn’t make the cut going into the auction houses as barely broke (if broke at all) things with high spirits that risk The Truck. So its less the trainers and more the breeders where I think the problem falls. I could be wrong. I’m not well researched in this.

        I also wonder with your two differing opinions what coast you each have experiences with? I know things differ pretty strongly in the industry just based on coast…

        ….and now I wave my little Zenyatta flag! Yay for the speed queen whose first start was at 3 y/o!

  14. Jockeys are not athletes? That is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. I have also heard that pound for pound Jockeys are the strongest people, this I find much easier to believe. How does this person even keep their job in this economy? Must be nepotism!

    • Honestly who cares if jockeys are athletes or not. If strength was the only criteria then I can think of lots of people that would qualify as an athlete: logger, ironworker, rancher, etc. Jockeys are not winning races based on their own athletic superiority. With that in mind I would tend to agree that jockeys are not athletes. Being strong and tough doesn’t really factor in at all.

      • It isn’t. A sport is a game. And athlete is essentially a ‘pro gamer’ in a sense. They know the phyical but also the mental part of the game. Volleying for positions in a field of 7 to 14 horses with your animal who has a reserve of speed, but only enough to close a short distance? Add that strategy part of the ‘game’ to strength/physical ability and you have a ‘athlete’.

        I honestly wonder what you consider a sport. Auto racing must not be a sport to you. I mean its not like the guys are out there running the race themselves, is it?

      • I’m sure the jockey’s care whether they are considered athletes. Same as any rider cares when someone suggests that their sport “doesn’t count” despite hours spent posting without stirrups or focusing on the smallest nuances of balance to perfect a rollback.

        Strength is certainly not the only criteria defining athletes, certain other things are required like *participating in a sport*. As a matter of course the other strength related jobs you mentioned are not sports, making the participants therefore not athletes (Yes I am aware that of there are competitions related to these vocations but I believe you were talking about someone in the profession)

        Would you go on to say that no rider is an athlete then? There is no equestrian discipline where the rider wins competitions based on their own athletic superiority. That’s because there’s a horse involved as well. Personally I can’t think of any other equestrian sport where rider athleticism counts more than for a jockey. Even endurance or three day eventing don’t require the same strength racing does.

  15. What a horrible article! I commented on the site, stating I don’t care much for general racehorse treatment but that the article was bogus and incorrect on most points. I suggested that if she can’t pull herself together to visit tracks and chat up grooms and jockeys about horse and jockey care and training then she could have at least watched “Jockeys”. I also wrote no one will view the article as some great controversial expose, but just poorly written garbage.

    GAH!

    Thanks for sharing SnarkyRider!

  16. Lasix is used to prevent EIPH or exercise induced pulmonary hemmorage. It’s not performance enhancing, it just prevents the horse from spewing blood all over the place through its nose. The reason it’s controversial is its not in the long term best interest of the horse, and before tests got more advanced it could be used as a masking agent for other drugs. As far as bute is concerned, I don’t know the rules in the states, but here if your horse tests positive for bute after a race, it’s an automatic 30 day suspension and $1000 fine on first offense. Steroids like windstrawl and equipoise are performance enhancing and are occasionally used for training purposes, but it’s illegal to run on. The only drugs that are allowed to show up in a tox screen here are lasix (only if the horse is registered in the lasix program) and triptophan, aka turkey juice. ACTH is also race legal, but it’s similar to turkey juice and is also not performance enhancing.

    As far as the better jockey on a crap horse will always lose to an inferior jockey on a good horse, that is a load of crap. There are so many variables involved, and that’s why it’s legal to bet on horses. The jockey needs to be smart and set the horse up properly, and it helps when you have a talented horse. However no matter how talented the horse is, if a retard jockey gets him in a bad spot and gets him boxed in, that talent doesnt do much good when you have no where to go. Sometimes horses don’t like the jockey on their back and won’t run for them, sometimes horses have bad days and don’t want to run, sometimes other jockeys are not paying attention and your horse gets bumped around and decides not to try.

    Thoroughbreds that don’t like to run are few and far between, most of them LOVE it. Makes sense since that’s what they’re bred to do.

    As far as race horses getting treated poorly, name names, don’t name the sport as a whole. I really resent that statement. I work 7 days a week 365 days a year. For 8 months I start at 4:30 am, go until 12pm, go home for a bit, go back at 4 for an hour to feed, go back at 9 to do night check and top up waters, and on top of that we race 4 days a week. Race days are 10-14 hour days on average. Those horses are my life. Trust me, your horse wishes he was in my barn, they get the royal treatment. When they’re done if there’s no chance of a career change, they get euthanized. It’s sad, but they die at home stress free and happy, and I never have to worry about them falling through the cracks. Most of my horses however get rehomed as jumpers, trail/pleasure horses or otherwise. I’ve even sold a few as ranch and cow horses. The really really good ones I keep as broodmares or they simply get retired and sit in the pasture and get fat as hogs until they croak. It drives me nuts that people label the whole racing industry as being cruel and whatever else. Yes there are bad eggs, but mistreatment is certainly not acceptable in the eyes of most trackers, and bad eggs certainly are not exclusive to horse racing.

  17. Angie, in the states A. Any horse can be on lasix, there is no need to register it and B. There are no restrictions on bute.

    The last time I was at the track I believe there was one horse, the entire day, who was not listed as being on lasix (it’s declared on the cards) and EVERY HORSE RAN ON BUTE.

    THAT is what I have a problem with. I have no problem with giving a horse a dose of bute ‘as needed’, such as after a really tough race or if they are showing signs a little bit of soreness or mild lameness. But it seems that American trainers think their horses are so fragile they can’t run without bute. (And I’m not sure American TBs aren’t more fragile than ones elsewhere in the world with the probable exception of Japan – there’s very little steeplechasing over here to encourage breeding sound, durable horses and OTTBs aren’t as valuable as riding horses as they are some places because so many people ride western and want stock horses).

    That level of bute usage can cause liver problems many years down the road. The only time I feel a horse should be on maintenance bute is if you have an ancient guy with arthritis who needs it to be comfortable – at that point they’re going to die of something else before the bute can cause them real problems. But the real concern is that bute IS a painkiller and therefore it WILL mask injuries.

    Angie, it sounds like your barn is great. Although I would slightly disagree. ALL horses want to run. TBs just want to run even more than most ;). The TB I’m riding right now has no tattoo and we believe he never saw a track, but if another horse comes alongside him, he shoots forward. We’re…trying to stop him from doing that. Ahem.

    As for the role of jockeys. I’ve always assumed that horses taking dislikes to jockeys happens because it certainly happens with other horses. Horses often like to be ridden and handled in a certain way.

  18. By the way, Angie, what country are you in?

  19. Okay, let’s talk about drugs in racing:

    I’m an analyst in a drug-testing lab that specializes in performance animals, specifically race horses and greyhounds. In general, I would say we see as much drug abuse as you would see in any professional sport. Most horses are clean, or have low-levels of bute or banamine, but we see a handful of steroids, tranquilizers, anesthetics, and illicit drugs. Some tracks are worse than others. The most common illegal drugs we see are stimulants. We see local anesthetics a lot in eyeballs when we help with a necropsy, which I think is really sad because it means someone knew the horse was injured and ran it anyway.

    Without federal regulation we’re never going to see the end of drug abuse in racing, but many states do have strict guidelines. All states have reasonable thresholds for Lasix, NSAIDS, and corticosteriods. The level of enforcement varies by state, unfortunately. When a strict state changes their policies we see an almost immediate drop in drug use, so I’m confident that a federal zero-tolerance policy would work (like it does in Europe). Just like in any human-focused sport, there are always going to be assholes trying to gain an advantage through drugs. But to say that drug use is completely unregulated or otherwise worse than in human sports is ridiculous.

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