...and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? (Jer. 12:5)
There has been much controversy lately about the sport of horse racing. On one side of the spectrum are hard-core fans who are willing to glaze over any mistreatment of these noble animals that rears its ugly head every once in a while within the sport. On the other side are the self-proclaimed animal welfare activists who want the sport banned altogether. Like with most other things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
If you are still undecided about your own stance on the issue of horse racing (and other traditional or culture specific sports and competitions involving horses), this post hopes to help you make up your mind by shedding some light on the history as well as modern day use of horses for human entertainment.
Recently, a cyber-friend of ours, Anita Lequoia, blogging at Campfire Chronicle, posted an article on Google+ about traditional horse sports surrounding celebration of the Easter Of The Horses in Bulgaria, which garnered a whole gamut of comments, some of which seemed to imply that use of horses for human entertainment was wrong regardless of its cultural significance. That got us thinking: are we humans being inherently cruel to other creatures when we use them in our recreational activities? The answer to this question is definitely not simple. Let's start with some historical perspective.
Horse racing and other sports involving horses have a long history and have been practiced in different cultures and civilizations since ancient times, from such major players in history as Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon and Egypt, to lesser known traditions of Mongolia, Caucasus region, Iceland, Japan, and Menorca, just to name a few. Chariot races, Dzhigitovka, Ban'ei racing, Doma Menorquina, Point-to-Point, Barrel Racing, Buzkashi, Polo... There are so many sports developed around the world that could not exist without horses. Why is it that humans cannot entertain themselves without the help of a horse?
Throughout the history, humankind has highly valued horses in all aspects of life, from farming and livestock keeping to war and military uses. Is it then surprising for horses to have found their way into human entertainment activities? If we think that a draft horse pulling a plow or a war horse carrying a general on his back are just 'doing their jobs,' why not then consider a Thoroughbred racing or a Menorquin doing Spanish walk as just performing their jobs? We personally tend to lean in this direction.
But what about betting or abuse in horse racing? Gambling (betting on animals included) is a vice probably as old as human race, and it is more of a 'heart matter' on the part of those who participate in it in different capacities than it is a sign of horse abuse in any shape or form. Love of money is the root of all evil, and it can corrupt any well intentioned human activity, including horse sports. As for cruelty directly affecting horses, such as use of harmful substances and practices to increase chances of winning, at their very root, these activities also stem from the depravity of human hearts on the part of those who engage in them and not from the nature of the sport itself.
There have always been and there will always be those among us humans who consider nothing sacred when it comes to fulfilling their own greed. Does that mean we should ban all human activity in order to prevent such crooks from achieving their goals by abusing others? Let us not throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater when we consider the potential for and the actual incidents of animal abuse in horse sports either!
What are your thoughts on the subject of horse sports? Should they be banned? Are they a form of animal abuse? Feel free to weigh in by posting a comment below.
the mind and hands behind hART Sense Design. I am a designer and hand-maker of one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry and accessories for artistic, chic cowgirls, boho babes, and lovers of all things western.
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