In the spring of their second year, thoroughbred racehorses are forced to perform in reckless speed trials known as "under tack shows" to impress prospective buyers at auctions. Although these horses are called 2-year-olds, many are really still yearlings, and they're forced to sprint an eighth of a mile at speeds faster than they ever will again in their lifetime.
At an under tack show in May 2011, a young female horse suffered a gruesome breakdown on a sloppy race track. Witnesses described the breaking of her cannon bone as sounding like a "rifle shot." In slow motion, you can see bone fragments explode out of her lower leg leaving her foot to dangle. PETA investigators have documented that pushing these undeveloped horses to run at extreme speeds can result in catastrophic breakdowns at auctions and life-ending or career-ending injuries while training for these events. Equine veterinarian Dr. Sheila Lyons, who has been featured on the cover of The Blood-Horse magazine, wrote:
Pushing these immature 2 year old horses for speed before they have reached physical and mental maturity is recklessly dangerous and systematically damaging for the animal while also proving to be unreliable for the prospective buyers as a predictor of future racing ability.
PETA has asked the four major thoroughbred auction companies, Fasig-Tipton Company, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, Keeneland Association, and Barretts Equine Limited, to adopt a series of recommendations. The proposed reforms include:
Help us put an end to this unnecessary suffering. Please take a moment to politely urge the four major auction companies to implement PETA's proposed reforms.
Dear [Decision Maker],