Herald Scotland reported today that:
THE Scottish Grand National was marred yesterday by the deaths of two horses after the race, sparking calls for changes to gruelling steeplechase races and the introduction of better animal welfare.
At Ayr yesterday, Regal Heights and Minella Four Star collapsed and died at the end of the four-mile event. Both are thought to have suffered from internal bleeding.
Officials at Ayr Racecourse said last night they were satisfied that the horses’ deaths were “tragedies” which could have happened at any time, and were not a direct result of the race.
Really? “..."tragedies” which could have happened at any time"? Two horses dying of internal bleeding following the same race?
Give me a break.
These deaths come on the heels of the deaths at Aintree a week ago, after two horses were killed after falling at fences during the Grand National.
Which begs the question: What are we doing to our horses, and how can we possibly come up with any rationale for these deaths?
Every time a horse dies on a race course or a cross country course, there is a mad rush of rationalization. Event organizers express the standard deep regret and reiterate their commitment to the welfare of the horses.
Riders, terrified that they will be the next target of animal right groups, defend the horse deaths as part and parcel of riding being a sport with inherent risks.
I've had enough of it.
Look, if horses are dying regularly on jump racing courses, there needs to be a safety overhaul of the courses and the sport needs to be more tightly regulated.
David Muir, equine consultant for the RSPCA, said: “We cannot justify the indefensible. We’ve got to ask if there is something wrong. We have to address the problems and make the sport safer. The industry has a duty of care to the horses. Four deaths in the space of a week is too many.”
Is it really that hard to agree with him?
Last time I checked, horses don't have the option of signing up for the race or bowing out. They depend completely upon us to make the decisions that will profoundly affect - and possible end - their lives.
This is not a rant to ban jump horse racing or cross country events, but it is me saying to everyone out there - How dare any of us rationalize the death of any horse who dies serving us for our own recreation, sport, entertainment, or pocketbook?
How dare we.