A horse race is a contest of speed between horses that either are ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. The sport has a long history and can be traced back to ancient times, with archeological evidence showing it took place in societies such as Ancient Greece, Babylon, Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. It is also a feature of myth and legend, such as the contest between the steeds of Odin and Hrungnir in Norse mythology.
During races, horses cover a distance of two to four miles on flat tracks. Short races are called sprints, while longer races are referred to as routes in the United States and staying races in Europe. In both cases, fast acceleration is required to win. Horses practice for racing by running laps around the track at various speeds. One common drill is to start them off at their trot speed, or slow jog-type pace, and gradually increase the speed of each lap until the horse is running at its fastest.
While there is no official list of all the races that take place worldwide, some of the most prestigious include the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France, the Melbourne Cup in Australia, the Caulfield Cup and Sydney Cup in Australia, and the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. Other famous races, such as the Belmont Stakes, the Arima Memorial in Japan, and the Durban July in South Africa, are held for horses older than three.
As the sport of horse racing continues to evolve, animal activists are pushing for an end to some of its most controversial practices. They point to the fact that horse racers have never been willing to make any significant changes to their business model, and that the best interests of the horses are not always put first.
Activists are particularly troubled by the use of electric-shocking devices, which cause painful and sometimes fatal injuries to horses and can damage their brains. They also point to the fact that horses are often whipped and forced to run at speeds too high for them to sustain. According to an estimate by the animal rights organization PETA, ten thousand American thoroughbreds are slaughtered every year because of the sport.
Many horse racers argue that the sport is not cruel, and they say that the stewards and trainers who are involved in the business are doing their best to ensure the safety of the animals. However, in an article published by The New York Times, a video was released that exposes some of the cruelty that takes place during training at Churchill Downs and Saratoga race courses. In addition, the stewards at these races have not been very effective in preventing or punishing abuse. This is another reason why PETA has taken steps to end horse racing as a whole. The organization hopes that the release of this video will force the industry to change its ways. It can do so by making sure that the interests of the horses are placed above those of the owners and fans.