No Sport Should Cost A Life

No sport should cost a life.

I say this again and again, as the horse sports rotate throughout the seasons, we see horses suffering in all corners of the horse world. There’s no reason horse sports can’t be made more safe for the competitors, like many dog sports are trending towards. Dog sports have jumps that have adjustable safety regulation heights for jumps and touch spots for obstacles to help ensure the animal’s safety. Dog weight pulls have safety max weights based on the dog’s weight, leaving the tie-breaker up to time. While there’s alot of work still to be done to make dog sports safe and fun for dogs it’s well on it’s way.

Instead horse sports trend in the opposite direction. Speeds getting faster, horses starting younger, weights getting heavier, jumps getting higher and more dangerously unbreakable. Why is this acceptable? Horses being bred, started too young, used too excessively, broken and thrown out, only to start the cycle again. When will we learn?

We think sport horses get the best care, we see them with state of the art machines, drugs, and supplements making them the best athlete they can be. But none meet their real needs – their need to be a horse. Rather than allowing them time to grow up, socialize, develop into the natural athlete horses are, then trained with care and consideration to their physical wellbeing.

We often think, well at least the successful horses get what they deserve, so the ones who break their legs, or get crippled and can’t work for humans are tossed auction to auction until they end up at slaughter, a few might make it out in the world right? A fellow rescue friend just took in a new horse, his history is well documented, but for his privacy we’ll keep his identity quiet. This horse was IMPORTED to compete, he was bred and started by the very best in his industry. A fortune was invested in making this horse the top in his sport, and he met that goal. He didn’t break down like most of the others around him who suffered worse fates than him. He thrived, he traveled the country winning thousands and thousands, he had over 30 owners (most of them businesses not humans), all of whom made a fortune off his career. He worked well past a healthy career for his sport, he was successful until well into his teens. But horses live to 30 and he didn’t break or die. No insurance payouts for his owners. Instead as he tapered out he was dumped, thrown in the trash. He ended up at auction, then bounced rescue to rescue. While he’s even sound enough for light riding, his aging body is tired now and he deserves the rest he is getting. In his 20 years working his sport career, while he had the best machines, drugs, and sports medicine, he never got to be a horse. Had a rescue not stepped up for him he’d end up like the others he competed against, at slaughter. His past owners got what they wanted from him and got the next new horse to fill his place when they used him up. Not a single penny of his over $200,000 earnings went to his end of life care. So no, even the winners have no light at the end of their tunnel. There is no up side to winning for horses, they will inevitably be disposed of when they’re no longer successful.

This needs to be unacceptable. We need to change the culture of horse sports to be more about the horse. Make the sports safer and more lifestyle appropriate for horses to participate in. Meaning they get to live as horses in their off time, with an appropriate diet and socialization. They get to grow up and learn to be a horse before they’re taught to be a sports super star. And their care for life is guaranteed from birth to humane and appropriate passing time. If your horse serves your dreams of competing, you owe them this much care and dignity in life and death.

Comics credited to the awesome, the fabulous, the Fed Up Fred

Leave a Reply