Horse Racing: The Most Dangerous Game?

There are several dangerous sports in the world, but incredibly, horse racing ranks as one of them. Horse racing may not seem as dangerous sport like bull riding, for example, but statistics tell a whole different story. One of the major concerns surrounding the sport came about in 2008 during the Kentucky Derby, one of the revered races in the world.

Horse racing

Racing horse Eight Belles suffered a double leg break while in the race and he had to be put down on the track. This opened up an investigation in 2012 which showed that the United States alone witnesses at least 24 horses losing their lives each week as a result of racing.

Horses in Danger

It is not a surprise that horse racing happens to be one of the primary targets for People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). If it seemed that racing action in the United Kingdom appear to be relatively safe, statistics reveal that more than 10 horses have lost their lives just at the Grand National event since 2011. Grand National happens to be one of the most popular racing events in the world, as demonstrated by the enormous interest in betting odds and tips found on

Horse racing

An equal number of deaths have also been reported that Cheltenham Festival, which saw more than five deaths in the recent edition. Most of the deaths happen as a result of falls during races. Since these falls happen at very high speeds, they often result in serious injuries. It is not just the horses that suffer, as jockeys too also suffer major injuries when they fall along with their horses. Many of the jockeys lose their life when they suffer a fall in the middle of an event. Yet, some are even left with wounds that would live with them for a lifetime.

Jockeys in Danger

Dennis Keehan was one of the young and upcoming jockeys in 1964. Aged just 21, Keehan seemed destined to the top but he suffered a fall midway through an event at Sportsman’s Park. He suffered a major injury to his spinal cord and is now a paraplegic. Keehan is one of the several jockeys receiving help from the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), which was established in 2006. Unable to turn back the clock and having lost the best years of their life, they are now supported to the tune of $1000 per month by the foundation.

A research by New York Times reporters Joe Drape and Walt Bogdanich revealed that horse owners often take a lot of risks when the pursue money is far higher than the quality of the horse. They are prepared to risk the lives of the jockey and the horse in order to give the best possible shot at winning the pursue money. It is also not a surprise that cheaper horses have suffered the biggest number of issues compared to expensive thoroughbreds.

Horse racing

Even though young jockeys do very well know about the harsh realities of the sport, they often learn it the hard way.

A recent study by the Medical Journal of Australia revealed that horse racing is more dangerous than boxing. Even though racing standards have improved a lot in the last few decades, jockeys still suffer more serious injuries than humans in any other sport. Australian Jockey Jason Holder suffered a horror fall not too long ago and was placed in a medically induced coma in order to help him recover. Holder was one of the lucky few to have made a successful return to normal life despite suffering life-threatening injuries.

Safety Improvements

As a sport, a lot has been done to improve the safety of horse racing, especially in the last two decades. Focus has been on making the riding gives much sturdier so as to withstand a lot of impact. Each jockey now gets to have high levels of protection from any impact through improved helmets and safety vests. Yet, there is no doubt that horse racing remains a dangerous sport and will continue to do so. However, it will not prevent the growing interest in the sport nor the enthusiasm from jockeys to enter into the world of horse racing.

Jockeys do have a higher fatality rate than those involved in non-sporting occupations. Even within sports, the incidence of injuries – and even death – is far higher in terms of horse racing. Sports like bungee jumping and bull riding are also extremely dangerous, but that has not prevented more and more people from entering into the world, and it will be a similar case with horse racing.

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