Target: British Horseracing Authority Steve Harman
Goal: Reduce deaths and injuries at the Grand National, a famous horse race
The Grand National is the most valuable race on the steeplechase circuit. It also one of the most dangerous. The steeplechase itself is a risky form of horse racing, in which horses run a track laced with hedges that they must leap over. But the Grand National is doubly dangerous; over four miles long, it is a grueling test of endurance, pitting forty horses against each other and featuring hedges taller than those found in other races. Safety regulations must increase to prevent continued deaths and injuries among horses.
Several gates in the Grand National are notorious for bringing down or tripping up horses. With so many participants, horses have little space in which to recover, and often bring down others that have no way to avoid falls. They may catch their hind legs if they misjudge a jump, or shatter a shoulder when they hit the ground, resulting in severe injuries that lead to euthanasia.
Because of the distance and the number of jumps, horses are ridden to exhaustion and whipped into efforts they simply cannot give, heightening the risk of falls and injury. In fact, less than 30% of horses finish this race; most are too warn out to continue or, in some cases, too injured. Others simply collapse at the end of the race.
Also in danger are jockeys, who are often thrown from their horses, and in danger of getting trampled, though there has been only one human fatality. Riderless horses are without direction, and cause collisions when they panic or become disoriented or frightened.
Safety regulations need to increase, and they must address these problems faced by horses. The Grand National has already undergone revision to improve safety, but it is not enough. More must be done to protect these horses from death or injury.
Dear Chairman Steve Harman,
The Grand National is one of the most dangerous steeplechases for horses, notorious for injuring and killing horses. In all, seven horses have died since 2000, and many others have been injured. Several gates are notorious for tripping up and felling horses, and the length of the track itself has proven exhausting. Horses have collapsed and died by the end of the race, while others simply stop, exhausted. Tired horses make mistakes, pushing themselves to extremes they cannot handle, misjudging jumps or losing their footing and stumbling.
I urge you to take further action to address the causes of death and injury, and increase track safety by whatever means necessary. It is imperative to protect horses from injury and death in the name of sport.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Paul Holloway via Wikimedia Commons