When athletes decide to dedicate their life to the sport of their passion, they do so knowing they are making great sacrifices and taking extreme risks. They know they will spend most of their lives obsessively perfecting their skill. They give up any hope at a normal life in order to achieve these goals. They may sacrifice traditional academics, their social and family life, a healthy sleep schedule, and their physical wellbeing. They push their bodies to extremes beyond what human bodies are meant to do. This extreme can leave them with lifelong pain and health issues. They do all this knowing their dreams and careers can come to a crashing halt should they be injured, even some sports can have life-threatening risks. These humans make these choices out of passion and competitive drive, they are an inspiration, showing us the reach of the human body and spirit.

The problem is that animals don’t get to choose. They don’t know the sacrifices and risks they are being faced with, they don’t get to decide to which degree they’d like to compete. They are the only competitors who can be publicly whipped, spurred, and brutalized into competing when they are frightened or over-faced. Extreme sports that require extreme sacrifice and risk should only be done by those who are able to understand and consent. It’s time to evolve equine sports and competitions, they can be done at a level that remains fun, enriching, and competitive, without compromising the wellbeing and choice of the animals involved.

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