Horse Racing is Not French Football!

Horse racing, unlike football, does not have global publicity from a World Cup. However, the field game, played by Prima Donnas, seems to have affected the equestrian world of date. Recall that jockey and professional rider Paul O’Neill recently head butted his horse City Affair, after it threw him before a race at Stratford in the U.K. He then abused the whip in the race in which the poor horse still managed to finish fourth.

The jockey’s action, unprecedented in its disgrace of the ancient and noble traditions of horse racing, was caught on TV, and has shocked people globally. The rider has apologized, and may face a short ban and a token fine, but will City Affair care? French footballer Zidane seems to have started a new trend of churlish behavior, with not just his horrible abuse of an honored opponent during a top international event, but with his defiant refusal to express regret later.

Football, or soccer as it is also known, joins other sports in which only people are involved. Opponents can express their opinions about unacceptable behavior, and seek protection whenever required. However, who protects horses unduly whipped or ill-treated in any other way? Would jockey O’Neill have made amends for his cruelty had he not been caught on video? Do similar instances during training and in the stables pass public attention?

Horse racing is much older than most other sports, and steeped in traditions. However, there could be many young people who enter the sport today, who either do not share the best practices with which horse racing is associated, or who are influenced by bad behavior on the part of icons in other sports.

Though jockeys join trainers, owners, stewards and spectators in being equally important cogs in the wheel of horse racing, the case of animals who cannot speak for their own, deserve special consideration. We know that feelings in the general public are in sympathy for horses, as evidenced by the widespread concern for Barbaro’s recovery and welfare. However, professionals who deal with these majestic animals on a routine basis need to follow impeccable standards in caring for and honoring their steeds.

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