Racing is a sport in which horses compete for prize money. Purses are awarded to winners of individual races, but there are also sponsored events where purses are provided by commercial firms.
The history of horse race dates back to the time of the Romans and is still practiced in many countries today. It is the oldest form of organized sports and a form that is still popular worldwide.
There are different types of horse races, each with its own rules and regulations. The most famous and prestigious flat races are the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup, Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup. They are run over a distance of about two miles and are seen as tests of speed and stamina to some extent.
As the sport grew in popularity, speed became the emphasis of the races and was rewarded by increased purses. This trend was also reflected in betting, which started as private bets on individual races and later became part of the bookmaking process (a professional bookmaker accepts bets and then sets odds for them).
In the early years of horse racing, only two horses were entered in each race. This meant that the rider was not as important. In later periods, however, as dash racing (one heat) became the norm, a few yards gained importance and thus did the rider’s skill in coaxing that advantage from his mount.
Throughout history, horse breeders and trainers have tried to improve horses’ performance through the use of drugs, stimulants, painkillers and other performance aids. The Romans, for example, were said to have used hydromel to increase their horses’ endurance.
Although horses are social animals, they are often kept in isolation and confinement. Stereotypical behaviour is a common issue in racehorses, such as crib-biting (repetitive oral behaviour where a horse sucks in a large amount of air) and weaving (a repetitive behaviour where the horse sways on its forelegs, shifting its weight back and forth).
When horses are trained to compete for prize money, they are usually forced to perform at their worst. They are drugged, whipped, abused and forced to compete too young.
Even the most well-bred and trained horses are pushed to their limits in racing. The result is that they often suffer from severe health problems and are prone to injury.
Among these ailments are ligament and tendon damage, which can lead to arthritis in later life. In addition, there is the danger of broken bones.
The most serious of these problems is osteoporosis. This condition can occur if a horse is injured during racing and does not heal properly.
A recent report by the Veterinary Medical Research Association suggests that a horse’s skeletal structure can be compromised if they are subjected to prolonged racing. This can have a devastating impact on the horse’s health and could even cause death.
This is why the sport of horse racing is so controversial and why there are a number of animal rights groups that work to educate people about the cruelty of horse race. These groups include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Campaign for Fair Play and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.