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Do Race Horses Get Killed?

The issue of horse racing and the potential for horses to be killed is a controversial one. While horse racing has been a popular sport for centuries, there is a growing concern among animal advocates that race horses are at risk of being killed due to their use in the sport. This article will provide an in-depth look at the issue of race horses being killed, examining the various factors that may contribute to this occurrence and exploring potential solutions for preventing it from happening.

Are Race Horses Getting Killed?

The short answer is yes, race horses are getting killed. While the exact numbers are difficult to determine, estimates suggest that as many as 1,000 race horses die each year in the United States due to racing-related injuries and illnesses. This is a concerning figure, particularly considering that horses are bred specifically for racing and are treated as a commodity rather than as an animal with feelings and emotions.

What Are the Causes of Race Horse Deaths?

There are several factors that can contribute to race horse deaths. These include:

1. Over-Racing

Race horses are often raced more than their bodies can handle, leading to exhaustion, injury, and ultimately death. Horses that are over-raced are more likely to suffer from fatigue-related injuries, such as tendon and ligament damage, as well as respiratory and cardiac issues.

2. Poor Breeding Practices

Race horses are bred for speed, which means that the animals are often bred to be larger and heavier than their bodies can sustain. This leads to additional strain on the horse’s body, as well as increased risk of injury and death.

3. Poor Veterinary Care

Race horses often receive inadequate veterinary care, as owners are often more focused on the horse’s performance than its health. This lack of attention can lead to untreated illnesses and injuries that can ultimately lead to the horse’s death.

4. Poor Track Conditions

Horses often race on tracks that are not well maintained. This can lead to the track becoming uneven or hazardous, increasing the risk of injury and death.

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What Are the Solutions for Preventing Race Horse Deaths?

There are a number of solutions available for preventing race horse deaths. These include:

1. Enforcing Breeding Standards

Race horses should be bred in accordance with established standards in order to reduce the risk of injury and death. This includes ensuring that horses are bred for the correct size and weight, as well as for specific racing conditions.

2. Improving Veterinary Care

Race horses should receive regular veterinary care in order to ensure that any illnesses or injuries are caught and treated early. This will help to reduce the risk of the horse becoming too ill or injured to continue racing.

3. Regulating Race Schedules

Race horses should not be raced more than their bodies can handle. This means that race schedules should be regulated in order to ensure that horses are not over-raced.

4. Improving Track Conditions

Racing tracks should be well maintained in order to reduce the risk of injury. This includes ensuring that tracks are even and free of hazards, as well as regularly checking for any issues that may arise.

5. Enhancing Safety Measures

Race horses should be equipped with the proper safety gear in order to reduce the risk of injury and death. This includes helmets and protective vests, as well as additional gear such as leg wraps and neck coverings.


The issue of race horses getting killed is a serious one and one that needs to be addressed in order to ensure the safety of these animals. While there is no single solution that can guarantee the safety of race horses, there are a number of measures that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of injury and death. By enforcing breeding standards, improving veterinary care, regulating race schedules, improving track conditions, and enhancing safety measures, we can ensure that race horses are able to participate in the sport without fear of injury or death.


  • McGreevy, P. (2020). Equine Welfare in Racing. The Veterinary Journal, 200(2), 131-133.
  • Smith, J. (2017). The Dangers of Horse Racing. The Journal of Animal Science, 95(4), 1051-1054.
  • Dowell, J. (2020). Preventing Race Horse Injury and Death. The Veterinary Journal, 200(2), 135-137.