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Here's What's Wrong with Rodeos and Horse Racing

These two animal-abusing industries are no less depraved than all the rest; they spell enslavement, torture, and death for their captives

The rodeo is a vicious industry of abuse and cruelty. The website SHARK Online has exposed rodeo depravity like no other. See the video just below at right, for example.

Horse racing is an extremely abusive industry as well. In the wake of injuries to the race horse Eight Belles in May 2008, I wrote an exposé of the cruelty that is too frequently hidden from public view. It was subsequently published in The Oakland Press (Michigan) on Thursday, May 15, 2008, and is presented just below.

Abuse Is Abuse, Of Course

By Gary Yourofsky

QUESTION: Why is the horse the only mammal who cannot have a broken leg repaired?

ANSWER: The horse is the only mammal that can be insured for millions of dollars!

As more than 150,000 thrill-seekers gathered at Churchill Downs in Louisville last Saturday to bet on which animal could run a circle the fastest, more than 14 million TV viewers witnessed the inherent cruelty when horses are forced to race. Eight Belles broke both of her front ankles shortly after she crossed the finish line in second place.

Ankle injuries are all too common in this animal-enslaving enterprise that breeds 1,000-pound stallions for huge, strong upper bodies but ignores their human-sized ankles that carry the body's weight. This genetic-altering and selective genetic-breeding process is akin to the meat industry's breeding of pigs who have huge, extra-fleshy upper bodies but weak arthritic legs.

The techniques used to dominate horses are vile. In fact, the word "breaking" as in "breaking a horse" doesn't involve whispers, contrary to what many people want to believe. It is physically and psychologically abusive. Getting horses to allow saddles on their backs is the first step of domination. Animals are locked into a small area where they cannot escape. Horses quickly realize they must acquiesce to the demands of their human captors or face the consequences—which can include food or water deprivation and even killing (euthanasia) if the horse is deemed unmanageable. When the saddle is finally attached, the horse desperately tries to shake it off because the cinch is painfully tight around the hypersensitive waist area.

Animal abuser Trent Normandin even states the following on his website: "The horse goes to great lengths to get the strange object off his back. Trent allows the horse to try to shake off the saddle and learn that he cannot."

Then it's time for the bit to be forced into the horse's mouth so their every movement can be controlled. This cruel and vile device—which used to be shoved into the mouths of black slaves in America when they were auctioned off to white businessmen—forces the horse into full submission. The bit is intentionally placed behind the front cutting teeth and behind the back grinding teeth. When the rein is yanked, the steel implement painfully grinds against the teeth, the roof of the mouth and the cheek area so the horse will submit to the demands of the rider and turn left or right, or stop. The mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of anyone's body, therefore making it not only evil to control someone in this way, but purely fallacious for those in the racing and equestrian industries to call themselves horse-lovers! Intentionally inflicting pain and discomfort on someone else is hateful, not loving.

After the bit is in place, the mounting of the animal which—for the record—does not want to be mounted, is next. Normandin again acknowledges the inherent cruelty of riding a horse: "At this point, the average horse furiously rebels and may buck and rear." It should be abundantly clear that the breaking process does not benefit the horse in any way. It is only a benefit to those who wish to reap profit from the horse's body.

Many racing fans also claim that horses naturally love to run. This is misleading in two ways. First, loving to run and being forced to run are two different things. Every being under the sun, except maybe the sloth, loves to run. So this is a ridiculous rationalization. Animals and people, however, want to run on their own terms, when they feel like exercising, playing, or escaping from a tenuous situation. Secondly, as the nation's only traveling animal rights lecturer (more than 1,600 lectures in 27 states), I have seen thousands of horses in fields along Americas highways and visited many sanctuaries over the years. I have still only seen horses run once! It happened at the SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary in Manchester, Mich., when a handful of their rescued horses were introduced to a new field in 2003. Their dashing excitement quickly faded after a few minutes, and they went back to their true love: grazing! Not running! Horses, when given the chance, graze as much as cows.

Meanwhile, I have yet to mention the whip. When this weapon is used or threatened to be used, I am not sure how any rational individual can claim that this obscene industry is humane, benign or necessary in the 21st century. Civilized societies are supposed to show compassion and act kindly and mercifully toward one another and the creatures that live amongst them.

Here's some information on the equally cruel greyhound racing industry.

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