The horse world takes it on the nose'¦and takes a stand on safety (maybe)
Yeah, it’s been rough in the equine sporting world lately. Eight Belles gets put down on the track at the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown’s cracked hoof might’ve had a thing or two to do with his career’s skid to the finish at the Belmont. Of course there’s the saga of Barbaro’s untimely demise after a catastrophic fracture in a Preakness two years’ prior to this. And there’s always Christopher Reeves’ accident to consider…
Nope. It’s not been pretty. We’ve talked a big game here and on other blogs about how we wish the horse sporting industries would take a stand…move towards the kind of safety measures that would spare these athletes unnecessary harm…advance solutions that might well save equine sports from widespread condemnation and the shame of demise via public censure.
That’s why your favorite Olympic sport (mine, at least) has taken matters into its own hands by convening a forum on rider/horse safety. As published in last month’s JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association) the equine eventing world has been investigating new ways to keep riders and their horses safe with new tools to limit casualties.
Jumps that break down in novel ways and sanctions against riders deemed to be racing recklessly. These are the new trends in the sport we call the three-day event. The cross-country portion is notoriously the most dangerous, what with all those exciting leaps that must be made over shockingly rock-stable wooden barriers and their attendant, watery lengths.
New methods of jump construction have limited the danger. Flagging reckless riders works, too—in the civil world of equine eventing, at least. But what about the thoroughbred racing arena? Is there anything worthy of these widespread reforms when it comes to two year-old T-breds on the track?
Honestly…not yet. Lots of big talk. Lots of hand-wringing. Lots of convening of fancy, high-flying panels poised to discuss the issues on their “merits.” And lots of “here’s hoping next season starts us afresh of injuries.”
But, truth be told, nothing’s going to happen come next Kentucky Derby without serious scrutiny leveled against [and sizable sanctions affecting] thoroughbred racing’s muckety-mucks. For now, given the inadequate direction grated them on the part of racing’s superiors, it appears they’re still betting on racing fans burying their heads deep in the sand.