At one race track, Santa Anita, in California, 30 racehorses have died this racing season - euthanized because of injuries they suffered while racing. This data is according to the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), a charity which is supporting a bipartisan proposal from lawmakers, The Horseracing Integrity Act. The HSLF is seeking to get Congress to pass measures to combat drugging injured horses to keep them running.
One reason for the high death rate is that some horses who are already injured, are given drugs so that they can keep running. Owners often know when the horses will be drug-tested, and what drugs the testers are looking for, and this allows them to dodge detection of doping.
This proposed bill would ban race-day medication of horses. It would also increase out-of-competition drug testing and would create an independent regulatory authority. The problem is, with so many thousands of bills competing for congressional attention, it is going to take a grass-roots campaign to bring attention to the fate of race horses.
The HSLF estimates that an average of ten racehorses dies each week at American race tracks. Patrick Battuello from HorseRacing Wrongs says that between 2,000-5,000 racehorses dies each year in the US. This is five times the rate of death in Europe and Asia because those countries have stricter anti-doping rules. Currently, the US has no national rules governing the use of drugs in horse racing. Instead, there are thirty-eight racing jurisdictions which have very different rules and regulations. This leads to inconsistencies, confusion, and greatly jeopardizes the safety of horses who travel from one track to another.
Many of the deaths at racetracks are from horses that are racing with injuries and have been drugged. No racehorse should have to die on the track. It is going to require a lot of pressure on lawmakers to pass this bill. If horses could speak, they would certainly ask us to help them.
According to some animal communicators, horses have very strong opinions about their lives. According to some communicators, some of the horses genuinely love to race. They love the work and the training IF they are treated well. But many race horses are treated as property. As money-making machines. Certainly not as sentient beings who have feelings, who feel pain, and would love to be treated with respect.
One story of talking to a racehorse to see what he was feeling comes from one of my favorite animal communicators, Samantha Khury, who told me the story about working with a racehorse at Belmont Park in New York in the 1980s. The horse was not running well, and when Khury “spoke” with him, the horse told her that he hadn’t been given the rest time he was supposed to have been given, to help him recover.
Frank T, the horse’s main trainer was unaware of this, and thought he had been given the rest when he was returned to his owner’s care, but in fact, the horse had been over-trained through bad advice from another “expert trainer.” When Frank called the owner, it was discovered that in fact, the horse had not gotten his needed rest. The owner promised to give the horse the rest he was requesting after one more race. Samantha then “communicated” this to the horse, who was greatly relieved to hear he would finally be getting a break.
CNN Investigates the death at the Santa Anita Track
I hope that people who work with racehorses will consider their feelings, physically and mentally and treat them with the loving-kindness they deserve. And for those who want to help, please learn more about how we can urge Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act. Learn more about the Humane Society Legislative Fund at HSLF.org
Genie Joseph, PhD
Director: The Animal Consciousness Institute