Horse races are an ancient and timeless form of competition in which horses, under the guidance of jockeys, run on either a flat or circular track. One of the world’s oldest sports, it has long been practiced throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and North America as an entertainment event, drawing in spectators cheering and sipping mint juleps to enjoy fast-paced race spectacle. Yet behind its romanticized facade lies an underworld of injuries, drug use and broken horses used for racing; these risks directly translate to higher rates of death or injuries suffered as stress or pain from racing horses who simply run for life!
Horse races are governed by the Rules of Racing, which specify how a horse may compete. A pedigree that includes both parents is necessary in order to be eligible to race, as well as appropriate breed for competing in any given type of event. Furthermore, these regulations set weight requirements that take into account age differences among horses competing against one another as well as providing allowances for fillies competing against male horses.
A horse’s chances in a race depend on its position at the beginning, distance of race and performance in previous races. A handicap may also be assigned depending on its physical or behavioral characteristics – this decision may be centrally made or determined by individual tracks; its goal being to render all horses as nearly equal as possible in terms of odds.
When in front of its competitors, a horse may use its speed advantage to win, often referred to as its “speed figure”. As the race goes on, its chances of victory reduce due to fatigue as well as wind and track conditions limiting success.
At the final stages of any race, jockey skill and judgement become essential in coaxing maximum advantage from their mount. Riders typically use whips, tongue-ties and spurs to control their horse’s behavior during races. One such tool known as a “jigger”, which delivers electric shocks that cause serious pain or distress to animals, is banned in most horse racing events; nonetheless some trainers and jockeys still employ it regularly.
Horses’ bodies were not designed for speed, so breeding 1,000-pound Thoroughbreds with massive torsos and spindly legs is an invitation for disaster at the track. Cardiovascular collapse and pulmonary hemorrhage due to stress-induced sprinting can be the leading causes of death on track; other major contributors can include injuries such as broken bones and torn ligaments; injured horses often can be found with broken spines, necks or legs that have only skin holding them together – often only skin is holding on.