Horse Racing Criticized for Being Too Dangerous, But New Numbers Suggest Otherwise

Posted by Allie Layos
racehorses standing on track

Get excited horse lovers -- the numbers show that horse racing may be getting safer.  

The sport of horse racing is often criticized for being unsafe for both horses and jockeys, but according to a recent press release posted by The Jockey Club, horse racing may actually be getting safer.

racehorse in the paddock

The Jockey Club, a breed registry for Thoroughbred horses in the United States and Canada, based this conclusion off of information from the Equine Injury Database, which showed that horse deaths at racetracks have dropped again in 2016, for the fifth consecutive year.

Analysis found that 1.54 in 1,000 starts died in 2016, down from 1.62 in 1,000 that died in 2015. In 2014, the rate was 1.89; in 2013, 1.90, and in 2012, 1.92, all out of 1,000 starts.

Dr. Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant for the Equine Injury Database, performed the analysis.

racehorses galloping

In an interview with Times Union, Parkin said:

"One of the primary objectives of this project from the outset was to build a comprehensive data source we could utilize to improve safety and prevent injuries, and we are now clearly achieving that goal. The racetracks, the horsemen, and the regulators who have implemented safety initiatives over this time period deserve a great deal of credit for this encouraging trend."

racehorse headshot

Parkin was not the only one to applaud the progress. Dr. Scott E. Palmer, New York state equine medical director with the Gaming Commission, also had good things to say:

"This shows that horses in North America now race with decreased risk of fatal musculoskeletal injury. Widespread industry efforts to encourage racing stakeholders to reduce risk to horses are proving effective. Future progress in equine safety will be linked to our ability to help stakeholders make increasingly more informed decisions regarding identification of horses at increased risk of injury and management of minor injuries before they become catastrophic. Tactical research, continuing education of stakeholders and improved diagnostics will be the cornerstones of these efforts."

Horses running at 40 miles per hour will never be one hundred percent safe, but this decrease in horse deaths at racetracks is positive news for horse racers and lovers everywhere.

What are your thoughts on the safety of horse racing? Let us know below!

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Horse Racing Criticized for Being Too Dangerous, But New Numbers Suggest Otherwise