A new undercover investigation is showing how horses are really treated in the racing industry and it’s far from pretty.
For four months in 2013, PETA sent an undercover investigator to work with respected horse trainer Steve Asmussen. The horse racing veteran has trained horses for 26 years, and earned over $214 million in purses, the money given to the top finishers’ owners at races.
“We wanted to know exactly what happens to thoroughbreds in a top racing stable,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president for PETA. “It was devastating to see sore, exhausted, drugged horses every single day. Some were in so much pain it hurt them even to stand, yet they were trained and run anyway.”
The investigator, whose name was not released, shot over seven hours of video with a hidden camera and PETA put together a 285 page report based on the images and audio that include the testimony of veterinarians who reviewed the tape, investigator notes and medical records. An edited version of the video featuring the cruelty with which Asmussen and his assistant Scott Blasi treated the horses in the stables is now up on the animal rights organization’s website.
The video shows how many of the horses were injected with pain killing drugs and performance enhancers frequently, whether they needed them or not. While the drugs were obtained legally, their administration was unnecessary and given just so the horse could continually train despite injuries.
At another point, both men comment of how one of the jockeys, Ricardo Santana, Jr., uses an electrical buzzer to shock the horses to scare them into running faster despite the use of it being illegal.
“There’s always something wrong with them,” complains Blasi when inspecting one of the horses.
This lack of compassion is also evidenced during a meeting between Asmussen, Blasi and a blacksmith while they look at a horse’s foot. According to the blacksmith it has been reduced to “a little bitty nub” from overworking his hooves to the point they had to be glued with Super Glue to continue working. Then he points out a wound so deep there’s “a hole right through that sore right there” and all men go on to poke it despite acknowledging it clearly causes the horse pain.
PETA has filed both federal and state complains against Asmussen and Blasi claiming they “forced injured and/or suffering horses to race and train.” This is the organization’s first major undercover investigation of the horse racing industry and PETA has said it will become a major focus of theirs to free horses that are being put through these awful conditions for their trainers’ financial gain.
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