The Veterinary Team at a Horse Race

horse race

A horse race is a competition in which horses compete for winning bets. The sport dates back to ancient times, and the early bets were placed by private individuals on individual horses. During the 19th century, betting expanded to include bookmaking, and in the 20th century it was taken over worldwide by track managements who organized pari-mutuel bets (in which the first three finishers share the total amount of money bet, minus a percentage for management). Some races are open to all comers, while others have special requirements for entrants such as age, sex, birthplace, and previous racing history.

Many national horse racing organizations have their own rules for how a horse race is run. These vary in detail but are generally very similar. The most important factor is that a horse must be ridden by a licensed rider. The rider must be able to control the animal at all times, and must not take the animal out of its comfort zone or beyond its ability to win the race.

In addition to stewards and riders, a horse race requires veterinarians and other personnel to ensure the safety of all participants. The veterinary staff is responsible for inspecting the animals before and during a race and ensuring that the animals are fit to compete. The veterinary team also monitors the horses during the race and provides emergency care if necessary.

The veterinary staff also performs post-race necropsies, which are used to determine the cause of death or injury. They may also test horses for prohibited drugs or excessive levels of permitted medications. They may recommend further testing or treatment to help prevent future accidents.

While many people enjoy watching a horse race and sipping mint juleps, the truth is that racing is cruel to animals. The industry is rife with injuries, drug abuse, breakdowns, and slaughter. Animal rights activists have exposed abusive training practices for young horses, illegal drug use by trainers, and the transport of thousands of American horses to foreign slaughterhouses.

Horses are forced to sprint, sometimes even under the threat of electric shock devices, at speeds that often exceed their bodies’ limits. The pounding they endure causes ligaments, tendons, and joints to be damaged and stretched. The lower legs, which can weigh as much as twelve hundred pounds, are particularly vulnerable. To protect their limbs, some racehorses are given an injection of Lasix before each race, which is indicated on the racing form with a boldface “L.” The medication prevents pulmonary bleeding that results from hard running. This bleeding can lead to fatal injuries such as heart failure or a brain hemorrhage. It can also be unsightly, as the blood can splash onto the jockey and horse. Despite these risks, the industry continues to rely on Lasix, which is not listed on the National Uniform Medications List.