Its not my favorite sport, but I always do follow the Triple Crown horse races. I used to be a bigger fan of the sport, but as I have become older (and hopefully wiser, and more compassionate) I have come to question the sport for a variety of reasons. Mostly, I began to wonder is it ethical, humane, and right to create these horses to be objects of monstrous proportions on pipe-cleaner thin legs? is it right to then train to run, run, run (and if they don't whip them on the side until they do)? So yesterday, with very little knowledge of this year's field of horses, I watched the Kentucky Derby, and and subsequently the reports of the filly, Eight Belles having to be euthanized after breaking both front ankles due to a collapse after the finish line. The coverage of this was justified. The horse's trainers and owners appeared saddened of course.
But, after watching all of the coverage of this sad incident this morning on ESPN and reading about it in sports sections I believe to be respectable (The New York Times, and The (Newark) Star Ledger, I have a question about all of this. If in fact these human beings (owners and trainers) are partly responsible for this horse's death - due to the way the horse was bred - aren't they partly responsible for its death? And if this isn't the first time a horse with this type of structure has died/been euthanized/seriously injured in action isn't this a sport that is highly barbaric toward animals that do not have a choice in the matter? These are the types of questions America's best sports columnist William C. Rhoden asks this morning in his column in the Sunday NY Times.
But then I had another question of my own.
Let me make it clear, while it is sad this animal has died, I am not going on here just because of the animal. I am far from a PETA member. I believe there are human problems globally far far more important than the wrongful treatment of animals. The treatement of humans is far far worse than the treatement of animals globally. So my real question here is this: If these owners/trainers breed these horses to run fast, have them beaten with a whip to run even faster, and have them grow in a most dangerous way with legs unable to support their monstrous bodies, how is this not comparable to dog fighting? How is it that people like Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick are ostracized and put in prison and these rich, rich, (mostly white) families allowed to continue in this sport of horser racing after events like we saw yesterday.
For the record, I'm not saying "Free Michael Vick". I do believe he broke a law and deserved some type of punishment (just not the ridiculously unjust sentence he received compared to others who break laws).
But truly, what I am asking is are horse owners and trainers just as wrong for they way treat animals as Vick was? If so, why is one in jail and the other planning their next race, and possibly millions more dollars with another horse they'll treat the same way?