What Happens Before a Horse Race?

A horse race is a contest of speed or stamina between horses that are either ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. It is one of the oldest sports in the world and, despite undergoing some changes over the centuries, the basic concept remains the same: a horse that finishes the fastest wins.

The sport of horse racing has never evolved with the best interest of the horses in mind, and even when animal rights activists speak out against it, many racing aficionados dismiss their concerns as “outsider” or “anti-racing.” In fact, the opposite is true: the industry must change if it wishes to survive. As the world moves away from a slave system toward a culture and justice system that recognizes animals as being equal to humans, it is time for the racetracks to follow suit.

In the early days of dash racing, the horse that finished first in a race was determined by seeing which horse crossed the finish line and went under a wire suspended above the track. Since then, computers and high-speed cameras have been used to determine the winner. However, when races are close it is still often said that the winner came down to the wire.

Before a horse race begins, its riders weigh in and parade it in the paddock (the section at the track where horses are saddled). Bettors look at the horse’s coat to see whether it is bright or if it is soiled or sweaty; a horse that balks–fearful or angry–will not start.

The horses are then led to the starting gate, which is electrically operated at most tracks. As the horses begin to run, stewards and patrol judges watch for rule violations. When the race is over, the stewards examine film of the finish and announce the winner. If the race is very close, it may take a while to determine the winner, because the film must be developed.

Before the horses run, they are put into a box called a stall. This is where they live during the day. Some stalls are larger than others and have a roof. During the night, most stalls are left open so the horses can breathe.

When a horse is in the lead, its chances of winning are greater than those of any other horse. If a horse is in the lead for most of the race, it has what is known as an outside chance of winning. The term outside chance is also sometimes applied to political races. A candidate who is running in a swing state and has a very small chance of winning may be described as having an outside chance of victory.

The earliest recorded horse race was probably a chariot race in Asia Minor during the 9th or 8th century bc. Later, chariot and bareback (mounted) horse races were popular in Europe and America. Today, horse racing is a multi-billion dollar global industry. But behind the glamorous facade of the modern thoroughbred horse race are a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns and slaughter.