Locked up, made to run for miles, given a strict diet, a strict routine. Whipped, torn away from family, kept in isolation, then made to perform in front of a loud and aggressive audience. Sounds like abuse, doesn’t it? Well, welcome to the harrowing reality of the Grand National horse race.

A disturbingly well loved British tradition, each year thousands of people venture to Aintree Racecourse, only 20 minutes north of Liverpool, to watch the races, with a record breaking attendance for Opening Day 2018, at 35,581. They arrive in their thousands, dressed in their most expensive, most eye-catching, most elaborate glad rags (it begins to look as though they are dressed more appropriately for the glamour of the red carpet, not the business that puts lives in danger!). Yet, you should wonder how many spectators even notice the pain and trauma that the horses are made to endure for their enjoyment.

This year’s event saw 7 horses fall during the race, and a further 19 pull up. One horse that was brought down was taken for emergency assessment after displaying concerning injuries. On Thursday 12th April, Lilbitluso, ridden by an amateur rider, fell, leaving only one option in the eyes of the business. At 10 years old, this gelding was killed. Horses are renowned for being strong animals but are often considered useless once a leg is broken, and owners are more likely to kill the animal than attempt rehabilitation. Why? Because it is more financially beneficial. Because it is cheaper. It is sad to hear that animals can be treated like this, and it be considered ‘sport’. Thankfully, like occurs in almost every sport, there is a growing number of opposition groups, stemming from many vegan communities.

At the gates of the racecourse, spectators were greeted by a group of protesters, who stood undeterred by the verbal abuse thrown around like the horse’s rights. Protesting not just the Grand National race, but horse racing in general. Arguments presented included the fact that the natural existence of a horse is not reliant upon human dependence. Although many vegans are wholeheartedly against horse riding, when the animal is treated with respect, dignity and given a life of freedom, safety and compassion, owning a horse can be justified, just as owning a cat or dog can. RSPCA demands the welfare on animals should be in the owner’s foremost thoughts, shouldn’t this be the case for all animals?

Photo Credit: @Dspu (Twitter)

Animal Aid’s Race Horse Death Watch began recording the death toll of race horses in 2007. After 4052 days, an agonising 1677 horses have lost their lives for the entertainment cause. If this were dogs, would authorities think differently? Probably not, as greyhounds are still mistreated once they have literally and metaphorically run their race. How can it be that in 2018 animals are still treated as assets and not living beings, worthy of humane treatment?

Next time you think about placing a bet on a horse, at Cheltenham, at Aintree; think about the stress that this living being has been put through to give you 10 minutes of entertainment. Years of strict training, for your financial gain. Odds are you wouldn’t want that to happen to your pet, so why let it happen at all?

Cover Photo Credit: ieyemedia