We all loved Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer and the way his character approached the care and management of horses. When you see examples of humans truly respecting animals it is inspiring. Of course, this is not the norm in the horse racing industry; it has traditionally been a hard and brutal world. Winners are treated well whilst they make their owners and trainers money, but as soon as the economics no longer add up they are on a slippery slope to the knackery. The waste of horse flesh in the thoroughbred race horse business is pretty frightening.
I have long predicted the eventual demise of horse racing due to its animal cruelty and the life threatening injuries regularly sustained by jockeys. I classified horse racing and boxing together as the sports most likely to be banned by governments in the near future. Somehow the deaths in both these sports do not make the impact on human consciousness I would expect. It may be something to do with the fact that horse racing is beloved by politicians and powerful men; as is boxing to a lesser extent.
Animal rights, as a social movement, is increasing its influence at the ballot box; and animal cruelty is seen by the majority of people as evil. As animal rights groups expand their influence on social media, brutal methods within the horse racing industry will be banned. We have seen use of the whip restricted to a certain number of strokes during races. We have seen the drug testing of horses to stamp out not only cheating, but horses being given harmful substances. There is the possibility that a number of animal breeding industries will become more holistic in their approach to the animals in their care.
Many horse trainers love their animals and want only the best for them, but it is a tough business. Racehorse breeding in the USA becoming more humanistic will only happen if there is a ground swell of public support for it. The huge online bookmakers, like Bet365, could throw their weight behind calls for the better treatment of animals involved in racing. If they want racing to survive and not be outlawed by humane and socially progressive governments they need to do something now. Strict guidelines for the breeding and training of horses need to be overhauled and implemented vigilantly to make sure that animal cruelty is eradicated from the industry.