A Closer Look at Racehorse Welfare

A look at racing ethics could help researchers and industry members acknowledge rightful concerns from a well-meaning public, help resolve misconceptions, and contribute to better equine welfare.
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Researchers have recently conducted an overall look into the ethics of horse racing. Their work not only helps acknowledge the rightful concerns of a well-meaning public and contributes to better equine welfare but also helps resolve certain misconceptions. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
“Poor racehorses! They lead such a sad life!”

Or do they?

As animal welfare awareness spreads, and the internet helps spread it, public concerns over certain equestrian sports are increasing. But many of these concerns could stem from a lack of understanding about the way the sport functions, said Camie Heleski, MS, PhD, an instructor and adviser in the University of Kentucky equine science and management program, in Lexington.

It’s important to address these concerns from a scientific perspective, however. That’s why researchers have recently conducted an overall look into the ethics of horse racing. Their work not only helps acknowledge the rightful concerns of a well-meaning public and contributes to better equine welfare but also helps resolve certain misconceptions.

“The horse racing industry gets a lot of media coverage, which makes it extremely visually impactful for the public,” Heleski said. She presented her work at the 2017 International Society for Equitation Science Symposium, held Nov. 22-26 in Wagga Wagga, Australia

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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