The Horse Race and Politics

Horse racing is a sport that involves two or more horses competing against each other over a set distance on a racetrack. It is one of the oldest sports in the world and its basic concept has undergone very little change over the centuries. Originally, races were primitive contests between competitors of equal speed or stamina, but the modern form is an intricately structured competition with rules and regulations that govern the eligibility of runners, the selection of winners and the distribution of prize money. The sport began with private betting on the outcome of individual races, and by the mid-18th century public horse races were being held for a large audience. Eligibility rules were established, with the ability to enter a race dependent on such criteria as age, sex, birthplace, and previous performance. Runners were matched up against each other based on these factors, as well as the owner’s qualification and experience. A rider must follow the course prescribed by the governing body and jump every hurdle (if present). The first, second and third place finishers receive a fixed amount of prize money. The winner of a horse race is declared by the stewards after studying a photograph of the finish and deciding whether or not a horse crossed the line first. In the event that the stewards cannot decide who won, then a dead heat is declared. When it comes to the human race, we are often guilty of using horse-themed metaphors when describing our political and social conflicts. It is common to hear people referring to political contests as “horse races” and the current election cycle is no exception. While the term has its roots in the sport of horse racing, it has become more widely used to describe any competition where the outcome is unclear. This includes contests in business, academia and sports, as well as in other areas of life. When political observers and journalists focus primarily on how candidates are performing in polls – what scholars have come to call horse race coverage – voters, candidates and the news industry itself suffer, research suggests. During a horse race, thoroughbreds run at incredibly high speeds on hard surfaces for long periods of time. This can lead to severe injuries and breakdowns, especially in the lower legs where the lower joints, tendons, and ligaments are most vulnerable. To reduce these risks, the stewards monitor a horse’s condition and apply a variety of measures including splinting and bandaging. While some of these measures are helping to improve racing’s image, animal rights groups still argue that the sport is cruel. Among other things, PETA points to the fact that many racehorses are drugged and whipped, train and race too young, are subjected to excessive whipping and other violent methods of training, are often injured or sick on the way to and from the track, and spend most of their work lives in a stall. Sadly, most will ultimately be slaughtered.