Rule Changes May Come to Horse Racing Industry Due to Recent Deaths

The New Jersey Racing Commission announced several proposals for rule changes last week in an effort to provide more safety for the animals involved as well as riders. Over the past few years, an increase in horse deaths have been seen with animal rights groups seeking major changes in the racing industry for the betterment of the animals. The proposed changes still have to be reviewed and approved before they will take effect.

Proposed Changes

So, what type of changes can be expected. The Racing Commission is considering several changes in the industry, including banning all riding crop on thoroughbred horses. A crop would only be used in an emergency to help avoid injury to the rider or the horse. Whip by sulky use will be limited, meaning drivers of two-wheeled horse drawn vehicles will only be able to use a whip under only certain circumstances.

In regards to a thoroughbred or standardbred horse death, the reporting requirements will be expanded. The changes will allow the commission to be able to identify factors or trends that could help to stop further equine fatalities.

The commission also would be authorized to cancel or postpone a race when dangerous conditions are present. This would include extreme weather like high humidity or heat issues.

In New Jersey, there are three facilities that offer live horse racing; Freehold Raceway, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack. These facilities would be affected if the new regulations are approved.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal commented on the need for safety regarding participants of horse racing in the state. He said the reforms proposed will make the competition safer and more humane as well as enhance the understanding of pre-existing health conditions and other trends that might endanger the lives of the racehorses.

Racehorse Deaths

The reforms being considered in New Jersey are part of a bigger overall issue in the horse racing industry. Santa Anita Park of California has been covered heavily in the news due to several racehorse deaths. A total of 29 horses died on the track and activists are seeking a shutdown of the facility.

The deaths of the horses in California have been attributed to several issues including track conditions and supplements given to the horses.

In New Jersey, the goal is to avoid such issues that the track in the West is facing. In the Garden State, if a death was to occur involving a racehorse, several protocols must be met. This includes the trainer or custodian of the horse must file an equine fatality report within a 48 hour time frame of the death. This report must be given to the chief state veterinarian or a state steward of the racing commission.

A necropsy must be completed if the death takes place at the track during training or racing, as well as within one hour of such activities. A cause of death must be certified by an attending veterinarian and records submitted including drugs, medications and treatments that horse was subject to.

We shall see over the coming weeks if the racing commission decides to approve the regulations they are considering. None of the changes are over the top and each would above all, protect the horses and riders involved in the industry. With better protections, the horses should be able to maintain good health while taking part in the live races.


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