A few years ago, my young naïve self-settled down to watch the Grand National with some family, only having just coming out of my ‘family is un-cool’ teenage mentality I don’t recall having any other previous memories of this highly popular, yearly ‘sporting event’ that my family watched. I say ‘sporting event’ reluctantly, because what I witnessed was not a sport, it was a classic case of humans using non-human beings for their pleasure, regardless of their welfare.
Not only did I watch the Grand National that year, I also put a bet on a horse – one that fell mid race and became a tangled mess of broken limbs from having being pushed beyond it’s limits while people like myself cheered it on. I watched as the race ended, they drew a curtain around the used, shattered horse I had once put a price on and I learnt that once these beautiful animals can no longer race for our amusement they are shot on sight because “it’s the most humane thing to do.” Surely the most humane thing to do is not take advantage of these beautiful creatures in the first place? As an avid animal lover, I felt sick.
Image courtesy of Peta UK
Races such as this one are celebrated, and have even become a cultural event for Britain, but I cannot believe that as a nation that often prides itself on its compassionate nature, that we are still dressing up, betting, tuning in and cheering on. Out of all the people I have spoken to about this, it seems younger generations are more likely to take action against these races – with boycotts and signing petitions, whilst older generations still enjoy the event due to its nostalgic value and common place in their family lives since they were young.
I visited the Grand National’s website and it seems they pride themselves on the courses ruthless, deathly obstacles. “Plenty of the race’s most fascinating stories revolve around its fearsome obstacles. Did you know that the least number of horses to complete the race is two, in 1928: Tipperary Tim and Billy Barton (who remounted)? Likewise, in 2001, when Red Marauder beat Smarty, only four of the forty horses completed, with two of these having to be remounted.” They understand that the course is almost impossible for these horses, yet it is still happening yearly. Last Saturday saw 2015’s Grand National take place and it’s estimated that there were “over 150,000 racegoers across the three days, while an estimated worldwide audience of 600 million people watched the Grand National live. I wasn’t one of them, were you?
To read more about the race and the unfair treatment these horses receive click here.
By Talia Maguire