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N &V Smart people are working to improve the racing and to take care of its equine athletes

from watching a T oroughbred horse as it gallops by within fi fty feet of where I stand at the rail.

Despite my admiration for the players in the game, I, like most of them, want the rules to protect the horses. Rule making is key to any kind of competition and in a sport like racing where new therapies are rolled out for the athletes every year, rules must evolve with the times. My chosen sport is three-day eventing, an Olympic sport that like rac-

ing presents a degree of risk and from time to time comes under scrutiny by mainstream media. As with all horse sports in America other than racing, eventing has a national association that can propose and imple- ment rule changes in a matter of months. Eventing has evolved, and while not everyone likes the direction it has taken, the sport is growing and injuries are down. Other horse sports in the United States are simi- larly governed at the national level. Horse racing has no national governance. T e rules are set by state rac- ing commissions. T e commissions vary in their commitment to horse welfare and their knowledge of the sport. T ey are government agencies whose members are appointed by politicians. T ere is a plethora of national organizations representing segments of the racing industry, including T e Jockey Club, National T oroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), and T oroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). All three of these organizations have committees, recommendations, and programs to encourage the safety and welfare of T oroughbred horses. If these organizations had the power to regulate the sport tomorrow it might look very diff erent. T e more I explore the rules of racing the dumber I feel. I don’t like

the claiming game, but don’t understand the implications of changing it. I don’t like the way shock wave and joint injections are used to keep a horse running beyond what nature intended, sometimes taking away

2014 Maryland Steeplechase Governor’s Cup Race Series

yland Steeplechase

the chances of a second career, but I have done both on horses in my sport and seen their relief from discomfort. I like the sound of drug-free racing, but have seen in other horse sports how complicated it is to dis- tinguish performance enhancement from responsible therapy. But still, I want solutions. I want more sound horses retiring from racing whose choices of second careers are unlimited. Smart people inside racing are working to improve the sport and take

care of its athletes, both on the research side and the oversight side. T e Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recently proposed new standards that have been adopted in several states and are under review in many others. NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance accredits race- tracks that meet very specifi c standards designed to protect horses and personnel. T oroughbred Charities of America donates millions of dol- lars to charities that serve horses, and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation funds studies to improve the lives of racehorses. Let’s make sure these organizations are well-funded, well-directed, and recognized for their work. Public scrutiny has its place. PETA has every right to conduct a cam- paign against horse racing in America, and nothing stops reporters from sensationalizing the news. T at is the environment that racing and all sports face today. So what. Let’s have the conversation. Let’s tell the story of what life is like for a racehorse. And let’s tell the story of what these magnifi cent animals do later in life with the education they receive as racehorses. Maybe somebody will listen.


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