A horse race is a competition in which horses compete with each other to win a purse of money. The race may be run over a short distance or a long one. It is a popular sport all over the world. The history of horse racing dates back to ancient times when humans towed four-hitched chariots and mounted bareback. The sport of horse racing became a major part of the Olympic Games in Greece from 700 to 40 B.C. The game later spread to other parts of the world and is a popular activity in many countries today.
Horses in a race are accompanied by jockeys who mount them for the competition. They are led through a post parade in which members of the public place their bets and the competitors warm up for the race. The contestants are then led into a starting gate consisting of small metal stalls. Attendants take hold of the horses to keep them calm until the gate is opened at the start of the race. The starting gate is a dangerous area for horses, especially Thoroughbreds who are prone to excitability and have a tendency to kick or bite during the start of a race. This can cause serious injuries, including lower limb and upper body injuries for the rider. The starting gates have been modified with padding and other measures to minimize the risk of injury to the horses and riders.
The horses are raced to win a purse of money, which is divided into various categories based on the importance and prestige of the race. The top ten finishers receive the most prize money, and there is also a bonus for the first horse across the line. There are also special awards for jockeys and trainers.
Although random drug testing is in place, many horses are doped to improve their performance. The use of drugs to increase the performance of a horse is controversial and a major cause of injury and death in the horse racing industry. It is not unusual for a racehorse to die after it has completed a race, particularly an elite event such as the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes. Injuries in the starting gate are also common, and they can be fatal for a horse.
The lack of an adequate wraparound aftercare system for ex-racehorses is a major source of discontent within the industry. Despite the fact that the racehorse breeding business creates and profits off these animals, it has no responsibility for what happens to them once they leave the track. In the case of Eight Belles, she died after her 2008 race due to overwhelming stress. Many more have met the same fate, thanks to a lack of racetrack regulation, record keeping and transparency. The few nonprofit rescue groups and individuals that work tirelessly to network, fundraise and advocate on behalf of these abused animals are fighting an uphill battle. This is an issue that can be solved with the proper legislation and funding.