What is a Horse Race?

Horse racing is a sport that involves horses competing in a variety of races. It has a long history and is popular in many countries.

Behind the romanticized façade of the sport lies a world of drug abuse, injuries, and slaughter. Pushed beyond their limits, racehorses bleed from the lungs and need cocktails of legal and illegal drugs to continue running.


The phrase horse race is often used to describe political contests. This year’s election, for example, has been a horse race between Cruz and Trump. However, the term has long been applied to a wide range of events and activities.

The origin of horse racing dates back to ancient times. Evidence of four-hitch chariot and mounted races is found in the Greek Olympic Games, which were held between 700 and 40 B.C.

In modern times, all flat horse racing in Europe (except quarter-horse racing) involves Thoroughbred horses. These are descended from a mix of Arab, Turk, and Barb stallions with native English stock. They also have pedigrees that are recorded in public stud books.


Horse racing is a sport that requires immense physical effort and huge amounts of skill from horses and jockeys alike. It is a sport that has evolved into a complex event, but its fundamental principle remains the same: the horse that crosses the finish line first wins.

Before a race begins, the horses are positioned in stalls or behind starting gates. When the gate opens, horses begin to run through the course and jump any required hurdles or fences. Once the horses are clear of the hurdles, a photo finish is announced.

Horse race golf is a unique format of competitive golf that can be played at local and championship courses. It involves teams of two competing against each other, and players should choose a partner who has a good understanding of golf rules and techniques.


Horse races often feature high prize money, which attracts the best horses and jockeys. The top finishers receive a substantial percentage of the total prize pool, while the horse’s owner and trainer also get a share. The remaining balance is shared by the rest of the field.

The prize pot in horse racing continues to grow, and the final prize can be life-changing in a select few uber-rich races. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, first held in 1920, is one such event. It offers one of Europe’s biggest purses, and boasts a long list of illustrious winners. Its rich history and massive prize money are a draw for the world’s top horses.


The repeated pounding of the joints of a horse while running and jumping puts horses at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. The resulting pain causes inflammation and mechanical stimulation of the nociceptors, a response known as hypersensitivity.

Researchers investigated the injury rates and risk factors in Standardbred racehorses on Prince Edward Island over a 12-month period. They found that a majority of new injuries were caused by falls, but a significant number of injuries occurred during training and jogging as well.

Unfortunately, the use of injury-masking medications and poor breeding practices continue to place young horses, especially those competing as a crop, at increased risk for breakdowns. You can help by supporting responsible breeding and raceday medication practices here.


Horse trainers are using cocktails of drugs to push horses beyond their limits and mask injuries. These drugs are often illegal and can cause serious health problems for the horses. They also compromise the integrity of the sport.

These drugs can be divided into five categories, depending on their potential to enhance performance. Class 1 substances are the most likely to improve a horse’s performance. They include stimulants, depressants and pain relievers. They can also be used to control pulmonary bleeding (EIPH). Class 2 drugs have a moderate to high potential to affect performance and are not generally accepted as therapeutic. They include bronchodilators and cough suppressants.


About five thousand race horses end their careers each year. Those that are not adopted or go into a racehorse retirement syndicate typically meet one of three fates: leisure, neglect or slaughter for meat.

Horse slaughter is legal in the United States, with most horses going to EU-regulated plants in Mexico and Canada. The long-distance transport is inherently cruel, as is the actual killing process.

New York’s new law prohibits owners and trainers from selling a retired race horse for slaughter. The state also requires microchipping to help track where these equines are when they finish racing and creates a tax write-off program for horse aftercare initiatives.