It was the Grand National on Saturday, the biggest horse race in the world. 600 million people watched the event globally and thousands descended to Aintree to watch the action live. I was one of those, and as we entered the course, protesters mobbed us shouting "you bet, they die" alongside the usual "horse racing is cruel" banners. Of course they are of the opinion horse racing is an evil sport, but it is funny how they only show their faces on Grand National day.
It is absurd to suggest that horse racing is cruel, or the horses' welfare is not a matter of importance. Cruelty to animals isn't, and never has been condoned by anyone in racing so by insisting that the Grand National is a 'horse killer' or 'death trap' for horses is ridiculous, and insulting to the connections and staff who work with the animals.
I wouldn't mind being a racehorse myself if I'm honest! I would only work for 10 minutes with four weeks of rest and training. I would also get plenty of food, regular health checks, and a lot of attention as well as being treated like royalty. That is so cruel and evil, how will I console myself?
Racehorses are treated far better than humans, especially if they are racing in the Grand National! Let's not forget what these horses are bred for, to run! They love to run!
Notice that in the Grand National, or any horse race, when a horse falls or unseats its rider, they always continue to run on with the other horses still in the race. Their ears are pricked forward, they are not in any distress, and continue to run because they love it!
The majority of people who insinuate that horse racing are cruel have probably never even been near a horse in their entire life. A horse would absolutely not run if it didn't want to, they are stubborn animals, look at Mad Moose for example.
Horse racing is dangerous, as is any equine sport. Sitting on a horse is dangerous. Standing next to a horse is dangerous. I have lost count of the amount of times I have stood next to my horse and he has tried to attack me for not giving him a carrot.
Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie died after a collision with a motorbike during the Gent-Wevelgem race a couple of weeks ago. I believe cycling races should be banned. It is inhumane for people to enjoy themselves with the risk they might have an accident and die. This statement sounds absurd because it is! There is no difference between this death and a horse racing death: they were both accidents and they were both very unfortunate events. The only difference is people aren't jumping down each other's throats campaigning for cycling to be banned!
Horses do die in horse racing and everything that can be done is implemented to prevent this from happening. In the four years I have watched the Grand National race at Aintree, not a single horse has died. However, in a recent visit to my local racecourse, Southwell, three horses died and a jockey ended up seriously ill in hospital. I never heard this in the news, or had any protesters scream at me on this occasion. Everybody has an opinion, and that is fine, but at least keep it consistent! If you do believe horse racing is cruel, protest all the time and keep your campaign running. Don't just single out the Grand National and jump on the bandwagon.
That being said, it is firmly my opinion that horse racing and the Grand National is not a cruel sport. People who say it is must to do their research. If you have no knowledge of a horse racing, do not force your view onto other naive people who will believe anything they read!
Photo: Charlie Proctor © 2016