Looking into the eyes of ‘evil’: The Racing Industry

Being born into the ‘evil’ racing industry, has always left me with internal conflict and confusion when the spring carnival rolls around. Those of us who are animal lovers and involved in the horse racing industry, are confronted by a barrage of Facebook posts, news articles and inaccurate statistics that leaves one pondering. “Am I ‘evil’ for supporting the sport that I love?”456AF769-3978-4704-B6F5-06E3F4F58D30

When I look into the eyes of my father, I don’t see an ‘evil’ man. I see a massively talented man, who loves and cares for every horse that steps onto his property. I see a man who worked around the clock to save one of his horses from a snake bite, with no guarantees of survival, let alone a racing career after illness. I see a man who doesn’t go a day without thinking about his horses and that would do anything to ensure that the horses are cared for, happy and healthy. I see admiration and adoration for his equine partners.

When I look into the eyes of my friends, family and associates I don’t see ‘evil’. I see people that would forgo a meal to ensure that their horses were fed . I see exhaustion from working around the clock in a day job, to support their animals. I see commitment and love for their animals. I see the tears well in their eyes and their hearts break when tragedy strikes.0D3DF8B8-1933-4807-9BB3-0D5EDBEC4E53

When I look into the horses eyes, I don’t see a fear of the ‘evil’ that they are supposedly dominated by. I see trust and loyalty. I see the willingness that horses have shown us for centuries past. I see the love and companionship that they share with their strappers. I see excitement and readiness when they step onto the racetrack, I see heart and try in their eyes as they give us their all.

When I look into the eyes of the racing industry, I see a commitment to be ethical, I see authority to enforce a strong stance against animal cruelty. I see open mindedness and a willingness to adapt new procedures. I don’t see the ‘evil’ that is often touted.

When I look into my own eyes, I don’t see ‘evil’. As a little girl the term ‘evil racing industry’ weighed heavily on me. With the nightly news referring to murderers and terrorists as evil, I was shocked to think that I may be in the same category. Now as an adult, I stand beside this industry with pride knowing in my heart of hearts that we are not ‘evil’.

Credit photography : Sarah Ebbett photography , canstock

Author Amanda Justice

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30 thoughts on “Looking into the eyes of ‘evil’: The Racing Industry

      • I was a NYS Trooper for 26 years and I stopped many trucks and vans that were loaded with racehorses headed up I-87 to Canada for slaughter. Being a horse owner for over 30 years, I could see that most of these horses were young Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. Now that I’m retired, I lobby for animal welfare and for some reason, the racing industry does not support ANY Legislation that would put an end to the slaughter of the horses that they claim to love so much.
        Also, I trained horses for many years (not for racing). Every veterinarian whom I’ve ever worked with agreed that they shouldn’t even be started until they are at least three years old. Racing two year olds explains why over 2000 racehorses die on the track or in training each year. Explain why that is allowed racing fans.


  1. The person who has created this website has no idea how these horse’s are looked after, how well they are cared for. The Racing industry is monitored and policed.
    I am sick of hearing from these websites and arrogant people who have no idea of how well the thoroughbred is cared for and treated. These stupid activist create turmoil and conflict and have no idea what they are talking about.
    Horses used for equestrian and polo go through far more strain then thoroughbreds. The Racing industry is magnificent and will remain strong and policed for many years to come.
    You should worry about those that are cruel to animals and mistreating them and get on with your life you idiots.


    • Please take a moment to read through this article , we are very much pro racing , the title is intended to be thought provoking . I have written this article from a very personal place being the daughter of a well respected horse trainer. Thankyou

      Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately there may be people who look after their thoroughbreds but far more abuse them. I see too many TB’s coming off the track terrified and not trusting humans. My TB has permanent gut problems thanks to the racing industry. Too many horses die in the track far more than any other equestrian sport. Racing should be banned.


      • Hi, I also have grown up as a horse trainers daughter and I have seen the complete love by everyone in my fathers barn for the horses. I have also seen the love that all the other trainers and strappers share for their horses, both at the races and around all of our local barns. I understand that there are people and some trainers who may mistreat their horses and the hate in my heart for them is great but when you say that the majority of trainers mistreat their horses I think you are mistaken and it really hurts me that you would think that because it simply isn’t true! I see these posts and reports almost everyday and it brings me to tears that people could be so small minded to not actually get the full story and go out to the barns and see the horses! There is so so much work And effort being done for the horses before, during and after their careers and I just wish that people could that!


    • I think we all know how race horses, no matter how good they were, have to be cut up and eaten by dogs. It’s a reality that “horse lovers” accept very readily. But the cruelty and lies about the fate of magnificent horses is totally, totally unacceptable.


  2. Thoroughbreds have been bred to have the lightest bones possible to maximise their top speeds, leaving them vulnerable to breaks. All these people involved in the industry, have you never seen a racehorse with a broken leg? Racehorses bleed from the lungs from the strain put on them. Have you never seen a horse with bloody froth coming from its nostrils? Have you never seen a horse injured during a race? What happens to your horses when they are no longer suitable to race? What happens to the foals that aren’t suitable for racing. Can you honestly claim there is no cruelty in the industry? Sorry, I don’t believe you. I love horses, so I stopped supporting racing 30 years ago, not because I was influenced by any anti racing organisation, but because of what I witnessed with my own eyes.


    • There is cruelty in every single equine discipline, some more than others but it’s there. Yes, I have most definitely seen the frothy blood………..happened to one of my fillies running in the field. Yes I’ve seen several broken legs. Most of them happened on trail rides, while the rest happened n their stall or in the field. The AQHA has a much larger amount of horses shipping to slaughter than the racing industry, They are pro slaughter, the racing industry is at least trying to do somethng.They, along with the Walking horses have a huge percentage of actual intentional abuse and injury. The racing industry has accidents. There is absolutely plenty of room to improve and I would like to see them become really strong on their drugging and slaughter policies. But you will never find a race horse who has had caustic chemicals poured on his feet and legs to intentionally cripple and then beat the thing out to the track. nor will you find a race horse trainer who has tied his horses head up high for so long that he dies or rps his tendons and ligaments all for ribbons!!!!! So how about you concentrate on folks like this.


    • Have you ever 1: worked in a racing stable? 2: ever ridden track work 3: seen first hand the care ,attention these horses get.? 4: Experienced the top class vet care they recieve at stables. 5: aware that they every race is physically followed by specified horse vet so if injury should occur the vet is there at hand to treat imemediately??? Etc etc etc..As without all that first hand knowledge you are not qualified to pass judgement. It is exceedingly foolish to.make claims about things you know nothing about.!


    • I don’t think your comment re light bones has any substance at all… who made that up? Am sure that breeders look for strong legs and hooves as the saying goes ‘ no hoof no horse’


    • You know, I too have seen the frothy bloodiness of bleeding into the chesty cavity in a TB… in one long, long since retired. His specific bout came on unannounced, and unanticipated, while competing at an entry-level children’s show. No major exertion there, obviously. During this lovely soul’s career post racing, he played some polo-x, taught kids the intricacies of rising to the trot, sitting the canter, jumping and dressage, and was bought over by a lovely school going child. Not long after that, he developed a serious colic bout, and they elected to pay for the surgery, hoping for a slight chance that he might pull through. That he did, and his young owner visited him daily, sat studying in his stable, handwalked him religiously when he was allowed to eventually. After close on a year, he could be ridden, and one could see the sparkle return once he started working again. A year later, this blood in the chest story happened, and guess what the owners did? Drove him through to the vet immediately, stable rested him, watched him grow fat and glossy over the last eight months, more studying in his stable and religious handwalking – because that is what you do when you take responsibility for an animal’s life. Granted, they did what was within their means to do. For those that don’t have the means, they often choose the kinder option, rather than letting them suffer.

      But one way or another, if you are involved with horses, you are involved with racing. Even if your warmblood’s granddam was a TB, bred in to add a lighter frame to a heavy bloodline, you are involved. So the responsible thing to do, as anti-racing, anti-cruelty you are, is to stop, and recognize that the most published cases of cruelty you see are the exceptions. No one ever made headlines for following the rules. And newspapers carrying those headlines don’t sell so well. Everyone would rather read about scandal, than hearing that Trainer Joe groomed his horses and fed them and exercised them, except for Sparkles, who bruised his sole, which Trainer Joe then poulticed.

      Recognize the exceptions. Recognize that bad news and scandal sells. And push to rather have those exceptions punished severely, exiled, jailed, rather than demonizing an entire industry. The big thing with animal cruelty cases, is that the repercussions are comparably light. And that’s why you get repeat offenders. Push to have that changed. Simply banning ownership for 5 years, with no record afterwards is not enough.

      But if there is only one message you walk away with, it should be this: Recognize the exceptions.

      And broken bones on the racecourse is bad for business.


    • Have you watched the top Olympic riders, and trainers work their horses? Have you been to a “local” or “A” rated horse show, and watched the instructors, “trainer’s” and riders by their trailers? Have you looked into some back yard barns, and breeding sheds? I have. I have been in ALL those places on more than one occasion.
      Until you have, you have no right to place so much blame on the horse racing industry as a whole.


    • Light bones? Really?! That’s a new one! You clearly never been to stud or training establishment. It’s the uneducated people like you that make this industry “evil”.


    • Harness horses get “Amished” at the end of their racing career, and then
      they go to slaughter.

      I’ve rescued these Amish Standardbred horses and they were so sore they could hardly step up into
      my trailer. The poor standardbreds have it worse than the thoroughbreds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We need to remedy that situation. I do know some good Amish that turn their retirees out but they are few indeed. Steps are being taken to get good aftercare for them. I’m all for a % of purses for that purpose


  3. The real ‘evil’ in the racing business, as I see it, is the polarisation of the majority of horses with large trainers (much as the trend around the world with corporates). Like corner shops, more and more, there is no room for small trainers and breeders etc. So, if your concerned about it’s existence, at this rate, racing will ‘kill’ itself in short order.


  4. I have 40 years firsthand experience in every aspect of racing. There are good and bad in all. Racing is not policed and regulated well by any means. They are registries with some rules that fall apart when needed to protect horses. Yes, the care they get by some is excellent, but surely not by all. Except for less than a handful of ppl when a horse is not productive financially they are usually sold to dealers, amish, kill buyers. Some are shipped for slaughter generally after weeks of passing from dealer to dealer around the country, some work in rural communities where the vast majority treat them like equipment until they become useless to them and are sold for slaughter, the tiny handful that an owner or trainer will find a home for forget that ppl have lifestyle changes and chances are become at risk. These horses live into their 30s, most outlive us. The Standardbred Retirement Fnd unlike every other org has 300 horses it feeds and cares for every day 365 days for 28 years. Except for about 10% of them whose owners asked us to help them when done racing the remaining also probably had good care at one time. Some made 2 million, others 800,000 and yet the owners who profited did ask for help for their horse so he wld have a life, but it is VERY rare that they bat an eye again for the horse, or even send 100 so SRF can make sure if a home was found that the care remains good, A 9 million dollar syndicated stallion will stand soon and not a penny was given when asked to help these horses, and future ones he will breed that dont make it, or make it and wind up like most. Read every word, i didnt miss a thing in my explanation. I hope before anyone ever blogs again you come see the reality from every angle. Glory days dont last forever and the care usually dies w it. If you love the sport, great, but be responsible to the enjoyment you receive and make sure you can put your head on a pillow at night and close your eyes and know one of yours isnt one of the 10s of thousands in deperate need, and please a dollar for you, how about a quarter, or a dime for the ones in need. Forget charities, in tbred racing they hind under their Aftercare Alliance so they look good. In harness racing, well often they claim they have SRF, but ppl who care about horses are really the ones keeping SRF afloat; there is no regular funding. SRF operates day to day. It’s sad and disgraceful. Adoptahorse.org.
    Come see all the trotters and pacers rescued from kill pens by volunteers on facebook SAVE OUR STANDARDBREDS FROM SLAUGHTER and the many that have to come to SRF because there are too many to home, and some not sound enough to even look for a home.


  5. I have worked in both the thoroughbred and the standardbred industry.
    And i can honestly say with all my heart there is good AND bad with both.
    To be honest.
    I think the difference also lays with quality of the horses.
    I have worked with top top trainers.
    Peter Hayes, Emirates Park and also John Justice, this girls uncle and I can tell you that there was never ever a cruel act to be seen.
    I am an activist for animal rights and run a rescue.
    However, ive also worked for some horrors and left immediately.
    I know one particular harness trainer who lines his sulkies with barb wire and teaches them to move forward with a cattle prod.

    Just like the general human race.
    We can not generalise.
    There is truly some scum.
    But there are truly some beautiful souls too.


  6. Well written Amanda Justice, I also work in the racing industry and see what you see my friend/trainer is also such a person you speak of sometimes living on only a couple of hours sleep a day, spending an absolute fortune on horse that she loves more than life itself knowing he will never race again to save his life.. I see no evil here


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