Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Eulogy In Anger

This breaks my heart.

I was going to put up a picture, but I can't bear to look at them.

For some reason, I have always felt much stronger sympathy for animals in distress than for humans. Maybe it's because I know the kind of care of which a person can avail themselves to recover; or maybe it's because animals are so devoid of subterfuge and artifice--they live completely honest lives. Whatever the case, an animal's pain or distress is profoundly upsetting to me.

If that pain and distress comes by way of human hands it's much the worse. And if the human motivation is entertainment, or worst of all, entertainment with an eye toward making money, then that animal's suffering is an outrage, an atrocity. It diminishes us; it diminishes humanity itself.

I'm sure that Eight Belles had people who genuinely loved and cared for her, and that those people are personally distressed by her breakdown in far deeper ways than my generic outrage. And maybe the animals love the competition; maybe they love to run and to vie for the top spot. But it seems more likely that they're doing what they've been trained to do for human purposes, that they're really trying, like a dog, to please their masters. And that means they must run fast, which means they're bred light and trained hard.

But if this is an inevitable part of horse racing, then we should demand the "sport" should be abandoned altogether. And if, like the corporate obsession with stock dividends above all else, any part of our distress with this situation rests with moneys lost, then this vain death is a stain upon us.

I will never watch another horse or dog race.


shrimplate said...

Thanks for skipping photos. It's horrible.

I grew up in the horse-racing town of Saratoga Springs. The only times I ever went to either of the tracks was with trips with hospital patients we were taking out.

I went to a dog track once in my life to adopt a greyhound.

Many years back I had some salukis and borzois, and out of the seven I had a few of them got excited and would chase a lure. The rest didn't care. I suppose it's different when there's no money involved and the dogs are having fun.

dbackdad said...

I'm with you Wunelle on this one. There is no purpose to the use of horses for racing besides our amusement ... and that is not enough. If even a single horse has to suffer in such a grotesque manner, I don't believe it is worth it.

Malaise Inc said...

I realize that this is a very old post, but I just saw it, and felt compelled, as a horse-owner, to comment. It is certainly true that horses don't race, jump, or work cattle as a matter of nature. Similarly, humans aren't naturally inclined to sit in cubicles, move about in mechanical contraptions, or any number of other things. We have created these things as we built a society. Just as humans often like their jobs, horses often like theirs. My wife has a couple of horses, one of which is draft-cross, who absolutely love to jump. So, I don't see using horses in ways that are not part of their feral nature as the problem.

The problem with horse racing, particularly the American industry, is the commoditization of the animals. The animals are bred solely for speed and, thus, have a myriad of other problems, they are raced way too young, and then are casually discarded when they (not surprisingly) break down. Many used to end up at slaughter when it was still legal to slaughter in the US. Now that it has been banned, I suspect that many still end up at the abattoir, just in Canada or Mexico. The whole industry could dry up and blow away and I wouldn't shed a single tear.