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"Wild horses couldn't drag me away …"

It's a sad day when another heralded racehorse has to be put down owing to a broken ankle, but it has led not only the racing community but the larger public who witnessed the gruesome reality of the sport to question what can be done to prevent this from happening in the future. Unfortunately, the only organization that has stepped forward during this time of soul-searching with a solution is PETA, the radical activist organization made famous for their "40 acres for a mule" initiative. PETA is distributing a petition that would ban all horse racing, a drastic measure that would unfairly punish dreamers, alcoholics and the Irish in particular.

Among the myriad problems with the sport today are the horses themselves. Horses today are brittle creatures whose very footfalls threaten to splinter their bones. Many horses display the anxiety that comes with the expectation to be the best at all costs. Some resort to the needle, hoping steroids will be the edge they need to compete. In some more extreme cases, horses have caved in the face of constant pressure to win, place or show and actually lose the will to eat carrots.

But horses aren't solely to blame - taking a look at the history of horseracing, it's plain to see that the recognition of past practices and advances in technology have been ignored to the detriment of horseracing enthusiasts. There's no reason not to review some immediate measures that can be taken to ensure a better environment for all concerned.

Practice
1. Development - Young horses should not be raced. No matter how talented they may be, pushing a young horse into racing before it is emotionally mature enough to deal with the lifestyle often results in a disillusioned horse spiraling out of control in later years, with heartbreaking tales of drug abuse and wild 'stud' parties.

2. Encouragement - Horses should be encouraged to do their best with positive reinforcement and love instead of punishment. Jockeys should abandon the crop and adopt the hug.

3. Lighter jockeys - While jockeys today are small, they are brutish when compared to the Olson twins, especially the sickly one. Tiny women in revealing outfits would result in less stress for the horses and more interest from the critical 18-34 year-old male demographic.

4. Dead horses - Should immediately be slaughtered and sent to France to recoup some of the financial loss. It disappointed many Frenchmen that they didn't get to nibble a bit of Barbaro.

Technology
1. Diet - It is obvious to even the casual fan that many racehorses break bones just running around, meaning that many horses are missing a lot of calcium in their diets. Looking around the animal kingdom, this isn't the case with most other mammals. Take, for instance the common housecat. Cats don't break bones because they love to drink milk. As proven by researchers, a cat dropped from a 2nd story window will land on its feet no worse for wear. A horse dropped from an appropriately-sized 2nd story window will shatter nearly all of its limbs on impact. It was this very knowledge that led yesteryear's culture to mix horse's oats with a little bit of buttermilk in order to lessen the danger of the animals being pushed out of 2nd story windows. Noting this, horses should be fed more yogurt and ice cream should be made available on particularly hot days.

2. Shoes - Horseshoes should incorporate more available shoe technology. For instance, Nike's "Air" technology uses pressurized gas encapsulated in polyurethane at the base of the shoe, leading to astounding leaping ability and the feeling of living life on a marshmallow planet. There's no reason to think this cannot be adopted by racing horses with a high-top design, helping limit lateral movement and improving stability.

3. Track surfaces - Nerf should be used liberally.

4. Breeding - It has proven nearly impossible to breed the swift with the sturdy. Mixing a Clydesdale with an Arabian results in a horse too small to pull beer and too slow to win races when the desired horse would be both larger and faster. However, a little open-minded thinking suggests that there isn't any reason a giraffe wouldn't improve both breeds.

-William Cadillac Donovan

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