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Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Racing from Another Perspective: Experts' Statements about Racing by Eva Berriman, BVSc


"Horses are forced to race even while injured, causing enormous suffering. Veterinarians recommended that War Emblem, the racehorse who won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2001, undergo surgery to repair bone chips in one ankle and both knees. His trainer, deciding that surgery would take away from training and racing time, forced him to race while injured. War Emblem lost the Belmont Stakes, no longer races, and has been sold twice. The same trainer continued to race a 3-year-old Thoroughbred after knee surgery. The horse broke his shoulder during a workout and had to be euthanized.

"Most young horses will develop shin soreness and should be given a break from racing for several weeks until they recover, but it is not uncommon for trainers to force them to continue training and racing, believing this 'compacts the bone.' These horses are in agony and collapse if touched on the shins.

"So they can race even when injured, horses are drugged. In the horse racing industry, the profit-making motive, not animal welfare, is all that matters. Every horse at the 2003 Kentucky Derby was given a shot of Lasix to control bleeding in the lungs, and most were probably given the anti-inflammatory drug, phenylbutazone.

"A recent front page New York Times article listed the most common ways used to enhance a race horse’s performance: bronchodilators to widen air passages, hormones to increase oxygen-carrying red blood cells, cone snail or cobra venom injected into a horse’s joints to ease pain and stiffness, and a 'milkshake' of baking soda, sugar, and electrolytes delivered through a tube in the horse’s nose to increase carbon dioxide in the horse’s bloodstream and lessen lactic-acid buildup, warding off fatigue. The article noted that batteries are even concealed under a horse’s skin that deliver a shock when the horse is flagging.

"Laboratories cannot detect every illegal drug, of which there could be thousands, according to the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Morphine was suspected in the case of Be My Royal, who won a race limping. Trainer Bob Baffert was suspended for using morphine on a horse. One trainer was suspended for using an Ecstasy-type drug on five horses and another was barred from racetracks for using clenbuterol. A New York veterinarian and a trainer were brought up on felony charges when the body of a missing racehorse was found at a farm and authorities concluded that the cause of her death was a performance-enhancing drug.

"Horses are sentient creatures, not inanimate, disposable objects. There is nothing romantic or glamorous about racing, despite the industry’s media promotions, and there are many ways to gamble besides racing horses. In this day and age, it is unconscionable to exploit animals so humans can gamble, particularly when such serious violations of basic welfare are an inherent part of the industry."

Dr. Eva Berriman is a veterinarian and technical teacher who has bred, owned, and trained Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds over many years, and who showed and competed with Arabians. She was employed as swabbing veterinarian by the major racing and trotting clubs in Brisbane and taught veterinary nursing and horse management courses at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges in Queensland.   Dr. Berriman wrote a book that strongly emphasized welfare issues in the care and management of horses. She also developed an open-learning horse management course and co-wrote a series of videos on horse care used in post-secondary education throughout Australia and shown on TV there. She has been a frequent contributor on horse and other animal welfare issues to newspapers, magazines, and radio programs in Australia, and she wrote and maintains a website of horse management articles.

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