Horse Racing and Other Equestrian Sports
Horse races are events where people place bets on which horses will cross the finish line first. The most common betting options are to win, place and show. Winning a bet means that the horse you selected will come in first place while placing involves finishing either first or second, and showing means finishing first, second or third. The payoffs for each of these bets vary depending on the size of the field. There are also accumulator bets, which involve placing multiple bets at different times.
The troughs of mint julips and the grandstands were awash in pinkish light, but behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred racing lurks a world of injuries, drug abuse and gruesome breakdowns. Horses are forced to run at speeds that can lead to devastating injuries and even hemorrhage in their lungs. Despite this, they are plied with chemicals and drugged in order to keep them running at the same speed as their rivals. In the United States, there are 30 horse deaths a year on the racetracks, more than any country in the world.
There have been several recent spates of horse deaths at Santa Anita and other tracks, but a full accounting of these tragedies is impossible without the full cooperation of the track operators and state regulatory authorities. The Jockey Club, which oversees the breed registry for thoroughbreds in North America, has a protocol that requires a necropsy and an investigation of contributing factors after every equine fatality on the racetrack. California and New York both have public databases that catalogue equine injuries and deaths.
In addition to the horse races, there are other forms of equestrian sport that feature humans on foot or on horseback. Some are polo matches, where players use a mallet to hit the ball through a hoop while other games are played by teams of two or more riders on horses. Many of these sports are a part of the international competitions that make up the Triple Crown, which includes the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France, the Preakness Stakes in Maryland and the Kentucky Derby in Kentucky.
The most important factor in determining the winner of a horse race is the skill of the rider, not the speed of the animal. Riders must be able to control the speed of the horse and anticipate its moves, while maintaining contact with it at all times. This requires a delicate balance of sensitivity to the animal’s feelings and an ability to push it to its limit.
In a typical horse race, the riders must constantly monitor their horses for signs of discomfort or pain, as well as other potential problems such as a loss of stride or an abnormal gait. They are required to report any unusual or recurring problems to the stewards. If a horse becomes seriously injured, it may be pulled up and destroyed. Injuries to the horse may include a fracture, cut, sprain, torn muscles, broken bones, and even death.