A horse race is a contest between a number of horses that are ridden by jockeys and/or trained by professional trainers. It takes place on a flat surface such as dirt or grass, over obstacles such as fences or ditches (steeplechase) or over jumps. It is a form of sport competition that has been around for centuries and is still very popular in many parts of the world.
The sport of horse racing has been criticized for being cruel to the animals who compete in it. It is also sometimes viewed as being corrupt due to doping and breeding practices. Some people believe that it should be outlawed or at least subject to major reforms to make it a more ethical activity. Others feel that the sport is a legitimate entertainment and, despite the problems, it should continue to be enjoyed by the public.
While the sport is often seen as being glamorous, there are dark sides to it that are hidden from spectators who sit in luxury boxes and sip mint juleps. The majority of horses are pushed to their limits, frequently sustaining injuries and even hemorrhaging from their lungs during races. They are forced to sprint, usually under the threat of whips, at speeds that can cause them to collapse or break down. Many of them are also drugged with cocktails of legal and illegal substances intended to mask injuries, increase their endurance or enhance performance.
In the past, horse racing officials did not have the ability to detect most of these drugs and penalties for breaking rules were generally weak. As a result, the sport was riddled with cheaters and drug abusers. These are a small, feral minority, but they stain the sport for everyone else. There are also the dupes, a large group who labor under the delusion that the sport is broadly fair and honest. Finally, there are the honorables, a small but important segment of the population that knows that the industry is more crooked than it ought to be and is willing to put in the effort needed for serious reform.
Mary Patterson is a research analyst and writer with Sports&Hobbies. She has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and enjoys reading and exploring the outdoors.
Horse-race reporting has a significant impact on election coverage, research has shown. The style of reporting frames elections as a game where voters are pitted against one another in a competitive race that is heavily influenced by opinion polls and focuses on frontrunners and underdogs gaining momentum. It is an approach that has been analyzed and studied extensively by academic researchers. A number of studies show that this type of coverage can have negative consequences for democracy and social cohesion, but it is a common strategy for news organizations. The following articles examine the effects of horse-race reporting and its influence on the way political campaigns are conducted.