Our Petition to “End the Subsidized Abuse and Killing of Horses in Pennsylvania”

Today, we launched our latest petition on change.org; the goal: end the subsidies that are keeping Pennsylvania horseracing alive and killing horses. Please sign here.

End the Subsidized Abuse and Killing of Horses in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s horseracing industry receives almost $250 million in corporate welfare every yearover $3 billion since the subsidies began in 2005. It is far and away the most subsidized industry in PA. And this for a business that, as measured by demand (wagers, attendance), has been in steep decline for decades. What’s worse, this massive taxpayer bailout of a decidedly nonessential industry – there are roughly 10,000 racing jobs in an overall state workforce of six million – has all come at the expense of public education – our children and young adults. To help put this in proper perspective, the per horse subsidy is nearly three times the per student subsidy (for those in the State System of Higher Education).

There is, of course, another cost to all this – one measured in lives. Since 2010, more than 1,400 horses have died at the state’s three flat tracks; more, still, have perished at the three harness tracks. In fact, in 2019, Parx led the country in kills with 59. Nationally, Horseracing Wrongs has documented over 7,000 deaths at U.S. tracks just since 2014; we estimate that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training across America every year – with hundreds more dying in their stalls. As if not enough, most – some 10,000-20,000 annually – spent or simply no-longer-wanted racehorses are mercilessly slaughtered at career’s end. Yes, slaughtered.

Still, the killing is but a part of the story. There is, too, the everyday abuse. To wit:

Grinding of Unformed Bodies: Young, would-be racehorses are thrust into intensive training at 18 months – years before their bodies are fully developed. On the maturation chart, these equine babes are the rough equivalent of kindergartners.

Confinement and Isolation: Racehorses, innately social and herd-oriented, are kept locked – alone – in tiny 12×12 stalls for over 23 hours a day. Cruelty, defined.

Negation: Practically all the horse’s natural instincts and desires are thwarted, creating an emotional and mental suffering that is brought home with crystal clarity in the stereotypies commonly seen in confined racehorses – cribbing, bobbing, weaving, pacing, digging, kicking, even self-mutilation.

Control and Subjugation: Horseracing is lip tattoos, nose chains, lip chains, blinkers, tongue ties, cribbing collars, mouth bits, and, of course, whips.

Drugging and Doping: Racehorses are incessantly injected, legally and otherwise, with myriad performance-enhancing, injury-masking, and pain-numbing chemicals.

Commodification: By law, racehorses are literal chattel. They are ever being bought, sold, traded, and dumped – a stressful, tenuous existence that in and of itself causes pain. In fact, studies show that up to 90% of racehorses suffer from chronic ulcers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board has thrice condemned the subsidies keeping horseracing afloat, and most recently called for racing “to be put out of its misery.” Governor Wolf has proposed redirecting some 200 million of those annual subsidy dollars to fund college scholarships for 44,000 students. In other words, the time to act is now. While we would love to see a day when horseracing is banned – like dogracing, which has been outlawed in 41 states – for now we are simply asking that the subsidies stop. This eminently just, long overdue measure would be a win-win for Pennsylvania: good for our children, good for our horses.

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  1. In regards to subsidies, speaking to my 50 plus year resident of California relative, she had no idea subsidies are taken out of pocket.So after enlightening her on this subject (and why so many horses are euthanized on Cali tracks) she will look further into this and start spreading the word.

  2. Signed and shared! I know Gov. Wolf is on board with stopping the subsidies to horseracing in Pennsylvania. All of those elected Representatives and Senators of the State of Pennsylvania need to get on board with this!

  3. Pennsylvania must discontinue subsidizing Horse Racing! Lining the pockets of trainers, tracks, and all those involved with the cruel, inhumane, and archaic horse racing industry is not only a terrible waste of money, it’s a disgrace and must end immediately! Race horses, just like dogs suffer miserably! Pennsylvania needs to support animal rights! Stop contributing to torture just for human entertainment!

  4. Signed, shared and donated! Anything to stop this industry dead in its disgusting tracks!! Pun intended..

  5. Signed the petition, and I want to commend whoever wrote the petition script for creating such a wonderful piece. Having horseracing’s despicable abuses so succinctly listed is great–and might be tweaked a bit to handout at protests–much appreciated!

    • Hi Marilyn, Patrick wrote the petition, and through his research looking into the cruelty of the horseracing industry, he wrote the “Wrongs.” We have leaflets with this information (and more) that we sent to advocates and protest organizers across the country. We also display and hand them out at tabling events. Horseracing Wrongs is also a nonprofit organization working to end horseracing through research, investigation, education, grassroots activism and changing legislation. We have a billboard campaign for the Triple Crown set to begin this Saturday. I’m happy to send any educational information to anyone who requests it. Thank you so much for reading and being a voice for the horses!

      Nicole Arciello
      executive director, Horseracing Wrongs

  6. DEFUND HORSERACING!! It is non-stop pure evil animal abuse and cruelty! Stop the subsidizing that keeps horseracing going. We must join together to end the relentless suffering of all these beautiful innocent horses.

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