Cover of book: Equine Cultures in Transition, Ethical Questions, 1st Edition

The wonderful team of editors in Stockholm, Jonna Bornemark, Petra Andersson and Ulla Ekström von Essen, have compiled a book titled “Equine Cultures in Transition: Ethical Questions”, in publication by Routledge, with 16 intriguing chapters, mostly drawing on presenters of the Equine Cultures conference in Stockholm in 2016. I am proud to be part of this volume and am looking forward to seeing the finished publication, due in January 2019.

With my chapter: “He Loves to Race – or does He? Ethics and Welfare in Racing”, I present part of the results of my interview study involving nine thoroughbred racing industry representatives from the US and Australia, and seven representatives of thoroughbred advocacy organisations from the US, Australia and Great Britain.

The results of my study published in this chapter show that thoroughbred welfare is conceptualised by the participants in three groups of welfare issues:

  • the use and potential overuse of drugs and medication;
  • injuries and death on the racetrack; and
  • the aftercare of thoroughbreds exiting the industry.

Furthermore, it appears that the thoroughbred racing industry pursues three objectives with their welfare initiatives:

  • to address the most egregious welfare violations of industry practices on and off the track;
  • to influence the public’s perception of the industry and its treatment of the thoroughbred; and
  • to focus on productivity, efficiency and optimisation of the commodifiable characteristics of the thoroughbred.

In conclusion, some of the welfare initiatives can be expected to benefit individual thoroughbreds, but it is not clear whether this will lead to net gains for thoroughbred welfare in the racing industry overall.

The book’s chapters are arranged under five themes, with my chapter included under “Problematic practices?” (the other practice addressed here is dressage). The four other themes are Horses at work; Leadership, power, and training methodology; Negotiations in contemporary dressage; and Horse keeping.

Citation: Bergmann, Iris. 2019. He Loves to Race – or Does He? Ethics and Welfare in Racing. In Equine Cultures in Transition: Ethical Questions, 1st edition, edited by Jonna Bornemark, Petra Andersson and Ulla Ekström von Essen. Routledge Advances in Sociology. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 117-133.  Pre-proof.

Last edited 25.10.2019