First, I suggest reading an article about horse racing over on Slate. I can wait.
Now, I’m going to explain why I find this article thought-provoking yet deeply problematic.
First, I do give the writer credit for acknowledging his prior brutal nature in regards to horse racing where he saw them as no more “beings” than playing cards. I do think it’s good that he points out how many horses die each year from racing.
I don’t like his comparison at the end to hockey or football, wherin he claims that those opposed to modern horse racing find it acceptable “to treat a jock like an animal, if you pay him millions of dollars. But it’s no longer OK to treat an animal like an animal.” It seems to me that McClelland is equating “treating like an animal” to mean brutality and acceptable early death. To me, that’s how you treat cheap electronics, not animals, not if you’re a decent human being.
I have an odd take on the issue of horse racing. I’m not 100% opposed. I think there need to be a lot of changes and a lot more regulation.
I used to go to the track as a kid. I loved horses and loved watching them run. I begged my parents for lessons until they finally indulged me for several years. I even took up lessons again as an adult.
However, as an adult I was truly bothered by how many “horse lovers” were unquestionably on the side of race tracks, even when it endangered horses. That seemed bizarre to me, and honestly, still does.
First, I think that we need to have better surfaces on racetracks across the country. As McClelland notes, changing to a more forgiving surface dramatically decreases injuries and deaths.
Second, I think that the age for racing needs to be raised. Currently horses race before their bones have fully grown and their bodies matured. It’s far easier for a young, undeveloped horse to break an ankle than one with stable, fully developed bones.
Third, I think that we need to regulate how often a particular horse can run as well as what drugs can and cannot be given.
I do agree with the author that horses do love to run. I just want them to be allowed to do so safely.