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Re: [RC] sick to my stomach - Diane Trefethen

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When we think about horse deaths in sporting events, it is CRITICAL that we factor in total mileage. For example: At Churchill Downs yesterday, race horses covered 1295 miles, the equivalent of 25.9 50 mile rides or roughly the attendance of just one AERC ride. As far as I know, only one horse died there yesterday so IF the total mileage was typical for Churchill Downs (I think it was probably high) and IF one horse dies on that track each racing date (I REALLY doubt that), that would be the equivalent of one horse dying at each of our 50ish mile rides or roughly 460 deaths per year. Last year we had 10.

But before you start feeling too good, note:

At Arlington Park yesterday, 88 horses ran for a total of 984.5 miles. There were 35 other meets around the country yesterday. If Arlington was typical (and I'm not saying it is), that would mean race horses ran approximately 35,442 miles yesterday, the equivalent of 709 50-mile rides or 29.5 AERC 50-mile rides averaging 24 entries. And that is just one day of the racing season. That means that in just 15.6 racing days, race horses cover the same number of miles our 50-milers do all year. In other words, to equal the 2006 AERC total deaths, 10 race horses would have to die on the track every 15.6 racing dates, or over 200 each year. If the actual number is fewer than that, then Horse Racing has a better on-track record than we do on-trail.

However, there is the little matter of training to be factored in and HERE is where I bet the numbers get scary. Endurance horses rarely break down in training... VERY rarely. I suspect race horses do it a lot (someone else can dredge up real numbers; I'm just using common sense). We start conditioning ours at about 42 months and then only to go 25 miles averaging 5-8mph. They start race horses as early as 18 months, and they compete as early as 30 months at speeds in excess of 35 mph.

Want to feel REALLY good about our sport? Look at Eventing.

According to Bonnie Erbe, a writer for US News and World Reports, 4 horses have died participating in Eventing in the last 2 months (as of 28-Apr-08) and apparently another horse died at The Fork. Now I don't know crap about Eventing but I looked up the distance traveled at the highest levels, 3000-4000 meters. 4000 meters is just under 2.5 miles.

According to USEA (US Eventing Association), there were 8 CIC level events with a total of 475 starters. Assuming the 5 deaths were the only ones this Spring, that's 1 death for every 236.1 miles. If AERC has an average of 24 starters per 50 mile ride, that is 1200 miles per ride. To equal the Eventing death rate, we'd need to see just over 5 deaths per ride or 2300 deaths in 2006. Again, in 2006, we had 10.

Someone else want to put together the stats on Quarter Horse deaths at rodeos? I'll bet those numbers will be pretty bad too. After all, how far do those ponies run? 50 feet in roping? 315 feet in barrel racing? Maybe 3000 feet in reining?


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Re: [RC] sick to my stomach, Kristi Schaaf
Re: [RC] sick to my stomach, Nancy Sturm