The History of Horse Racing
Horse races are competitive events that test the endurance and speed of horses over a set distance. The first horse across the finish line is declared the winner. The sport has evolved over the centuries from a primitive contest of speed or stamina to a spectacular spectacle involving large fields, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment and immense sums of money. But the basic concept has not changed: The fastest or best-balanced horse wins.
The first horse races with riders were held in ancient Greece. The winners were taken to exclusive stud farms where they would perpetuate their bloodlines. These horses were the progenitors of today’s Thoroughbreds.
As racing developed, the sport gained popularity and the most successful were often shipped to America where a number of important races were established including the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby. These three races are known as the Triple Crown and are considered the most prestigious events in American horse racing.
During a race, a jockey mounts a horse and leads the animal along a designated course. The rider must follow the correct path and jump any obstacles (if present) in a timely manner to complete the course and cross the finish line before all other competitors. The winning horse is rewarded with a share of the prize money.
Modern horse racing dates back to the 12th century when Newmarket became a center of breeding and racing. A new type of horse was developed that was bred to be fast and strong. It is also believed that the first trotters were imported from Europe to America. A trotter is a type of sulky-drawn race horse that is primarily designed for the sport of trotting.
Horse racing is a dangerous and stressful activity for horses. Even the very best have a high risk of injury and death. This is especially true of the older horses. Many of these animals suffer from painful and disabling conditions, such as catastrophic heart failures, broken bones, laminitis and neurological disorders.
The recent deaths of Eight Belles and Medina Spirit have brought renewed scrutiny to the horse racing industry. Although some improvements have been made, horse racing still lacks integrity and a respectable future is far from guaranteed. The continued exploitation of young horses is unacceptable and must stop. Donations from racing fans and gamblers are vital, but they do not cancel out participation in the ongoing exploitation of the young, vulnerable racehorses who will one day run for a living.