I only just realised that The Grand National is this weekend, and whilst I have never really bothered with it before, I’m making an active decision to boycott anything Grand National related this year.
A jockey named Katie Walsh recently said that most racehorses are treated better than children, but in regards to horses dying on the course “it would be a lot worse if two jockeys had been killed”. The point Walsh is missing, however, is the fact jockeys choose to risk their lives and horses don’t.
There is also the fact that racehorses are only well cared for until they are no longer successful. Racehorses are often raced from around the age of two due to their breeding, which makes them physically mature earlier than other breeds who aren’t broken in, never mind ridden ,till the age of three or four.
If you go to any horse sales in the country you will find many ex racehorses who are still relatively young being sold. Many of them end up being sold for dog meat, to me that doesn’t’ sound like they are treated better than children. They are only looked after until their short lived career is over. Even if an ex racehorse escapes being sold for meat they often face difficulties in new homes and often have to be broken in again as the way they are initially trained can make them dangerous for the average rider who wants a horse to hack about on.
Then there is the issue of The Grand National itself. I am under no illusion that racing horses will be banned anytime soon, but if the sport must persist it must be made safer. The fences in The Grand National are too high, hence why so many horses fail to clear them. Then there is the fact that there is 40 horses on the course at one time, which is far too many; if the number was halved then it would dramatically reduce the risk of accidents. Of course, this is unlikely to happen because the more horses there is then the more bets placed which means more money.
So no, I disagree with Walsh’s comments. This weekend it’s likely that, just like last year, more than one horse’s lifeless body will lie on the course as the rest continue racing. Racehorses are not treated better than children, because they are bred for sport and if they die they are nothing more than another number to add to the 900 horses who have died in racing in the last six years.