May 4th, 2008
I’ve always vaguely disliked horse races. The anthropomorphizing of the horses, the claims that they know that they’re involved in a race and that they share the goals of their owners, is manifestly silly and self-serving. And the whipping always bothered me. I suppose I made myself believe that horses didn’t really care and that an attack with a whip was, to them, kind of like a verbal exhortation to us. (Not that verbal exhortations can’t be painful, but they’re not physical).
The death of Eight Belles shocked me out of my indifferent, complacent position.
All the crap in the news about how noble she was, how competitive her spirit, how great her self-sacrifice… it’s all smug and disgusting beyond belief, despite the accompanying descriptions of the tears glistening in the eyes of the various stakeholders. What really happened was that this horse was forced to run as fast as she could, for reasons she could not understand and that had nothing to do with her well-being, and as a direct result, her legs fell apart, and then someone killed her.
That’s it; that’s all there is to it.
Why is this allowed to go on? Is it simply because more horses survive races than don’t?
For some reason, we continue to give the benefit of the doubt to this bizarre, nasty, money-drenched “sport”. Except that for me, at this point, there is no doubt, and no further conferral of the benefit.