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Article:PETA, horse racing need to come to compromise

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It has been two weeks since Eight Belles lost her life at Louisville's Churchill Downs. While some mourned her loss, the zealots known as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the same people that left to them, the population of the planet would have brittle bones due to not being able to drink milk, eat meat or cheese and freeze to death because they would not allow the wearing of wool or fur came out to show their displeasure with horse racing at Pimlico Saturday.

According to the Associated Press, protesters handed out leaflets that suggested horses in the industry are "Racing to the Grave." More than two dozen people participated, one of whom carried a hand-lettered sign that read, "Wanna bet another horse dies today?"

Eight Belles broke her two front ankles in the Derby and was euthanized moments after finishing second to Big Brown.

"Reforms need to be made," said Ashley Byrne, campaign coordinator for PETA. "People see the image of Eight Belles on the track and are horrified."

While I do agree that reforms have to be made for the good of the sport, PETA is going about it the wrong way. They are asking to change some 3,000 years of history.

Sure... and Humpty Dumpty was pushed.

They do have some good and some not so good ideas. The groupis calling on the industry to ban whipping; limit the number of races a horse runs in a year to seven; prohibit the training and racing of horses under 3 years because their bones and joints aren't fully developed; replace dirt tracks with turf and synthetic surfaces; and to institute a policy that bans illegal and legal drugs in the week leading up to a race.

Here's my take on idea number one. Banning whips would be counter-productive. You have an animal that weighs about 1,200 to 1,500 pounds (give or take) that if left to run out of control would hurt not only itself, it could cause injury to its rider and other riders and horses.

Limiting the number of races... have to disagree with you. You're asking jockeys, trainers, bug boys and others that work at racetracks in the US to limit the number of races. Bad move only because these people need the income.

I do like the idea of not allowing horses under age three to race and train. I will give you that point. Letting these animals properly develop their bodies may prevent some injuries but not all.

As far as turf, no problem. I don't have enough knowledge on synthetic surfaces to form an opinon.

Lastly, the issue of drugs. If a licensed vet says that a horse needs a legal drug to perform, then I say the animal should be allowed to have it. At the same time, each winner should be checked for the substances that are illegal.

PETA and horse racing needs to work side by side and not at each throats. Yes, the deaths of Barbaro, Eight Belles and other horses are tragedies. Investments was lost on these animals. Some of your ideas, PETA are good. Some need work. You're not going to see horse racing banned any time soon in your lifetime or mine. I'm not saying I agree with you and what you believe. I'm saying that if you want a place at the table, you're welcome to do so.

But come with an open mind. Closed ones don't work very well, as my 4th grade teacher once told me.  

Voltaire once said, "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It's time to work together for the good of the sport of kings.

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