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What happens when Race Horses get Injured

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"What happens when Race Horses get Injured"
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On May 20, 2006, two weeks after he had won the Kentucky Derby, the American thoroughbred named Barbaro fractured three bones in and around the ankle of his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness Stakes race. The following day he went to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center to have surgery done on it. Soon after, however, he developed laminitus in his rear left hoof and later in both his front feet. It eventually became too much an ordeal for him, and so he was put down.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is common when it comes to horse races. Miss Pretty Promises, for example, collapsed on shattered legs at Retama Park on April 28. At the 2006 English Derby Horatio Nelson was injured and had to be put down as well. Lovetostrawfly had a fatal fall at Sam Houston Race Park on Aug. 2, 2003. The helpless animal could not even stand up because she had broken her back.

"At the state's five licensed tracks, Marsh and other veterinarians with the Texas Racing Commission have euthanized or documented the deaths of 300 horses in the past five years, usually after the animals broke ankles, legs or even spinal cords during races, according to the agency's database of horse injuries obtained by the San Antonio Express-News" (Tedesco). These horses are the lucky ones. Unfortunately, some race horses that need to be put down are sent to slaughterhouses for meat.

On the other hand, not all injured horses are sent to their deaths. If the injury is minor, they can be adopted out to new homes where they can live out the rest of their life grazing as a pet. Sometimes they are even bred so that their offspring can become great racehorses. It all depends on the extent of the injury.

Some might think that killing a racehorse after he seriously hurts himself is cruel. However, sometimes it is necessary. While a broken leg for a human can easily be fixed, gangrene or laminitus can easily take over a horse's injuries, only making matters worse.

The only way to escape such tragedies is to ban horse racing. Every time I see my mom turn on the Kentucky Derby or any other horse racing event, I just cannot watch. For a woman who loves horses so much, I can't help but to wonder why she is in favor of the so-called sport. It reminded me of horse diving that was popular in the 1900's. In this event, a horse would run up a ramp as high as 60 feet, and at the top a rider would jump on the horses back and leap into a pool of water below on the ground. Needless to say, many horses and riders were injured and killed in these acts too. My guess is that one day horse racing will come to an end, just as horse diving did in 1978.

John Tedesco San Antonio Express-News Portions 2007 KENS 5 and the San Antonio Express-News.

More about this author: Kelly A. Mello

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