Countries have banned horse racing

Horrific horse racing deaths in the United States

Most deaths are from leg injuries, followed by respiratory and digestive tract disorders, and finally multiple organ failure.

Most of the 23 recent horse deaths at California's Santa Anita Park Racecourse can also be traced back to leg injuries.

California Horse Racing Board Veterinary Director Rick Arthur said the deaths could be due to an increase in the competitive nature of the sport.

Horses no longer get the rest they need, especially in places like California where the weather allows for a year-round racing season.

"It's difficult to keep an athlete in top form all year round."

The unprecedented rate of deaths in Santa Anita has brought racing safety back into focus.

A draft law was only introduced in March 2019 to standardize national doping tests for racehorses. The equestrian industry is currently subject to the regulations of the respective US states.

The Jockey Club, which works to improve horse breeding and horse racing, supported the bill.

"It is time we caught up with the rest of the world and took the best possible measures to protect the health and safety of our sport horses," the organization said in a press release.

Fatal injuries

While a broken leg is easy to treat in humans, it is often a death sentence for horses.

This is also because horses, unlike humans, have so little soft tissue in their legs, which is why the broken bone often breaks through the skin or depresses the blood supply. This increases the risk of infection.

In severe cases, the bone even splinters so that it can hardly be put together.

But even if you can straighten the break and splint the leg, the horse would not be able to put any weight on the affected leg for weeks. If the animals cannot distribute their weight evenly on all four legs, there is a risk of laminitis - a potentially fatal inflammation of the corium.

If a horse cannot stand on its four legs on its own, it will generally not survive and will therefore be euthanized, says Arthur.

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Jockeys are also often injured when horses fall. An analysis of five-year California racing data in 2013 showed that out of 360 documented falls, 184 jockeys were injured.

Most falls occurred during a race because of "serious injury or sudden death to the horse," as the study says.