What Happens Wrong During a Horse Race?

Horse races are fun to watch and can be a great source of entertainment. However, many people do not realize how brutal and dangerous the sport can be for horses. There are a lot of different rules in place to keep the horses safe and there are a lot of things that can go wrong during a race. Some examples of these problems include:

BREAK SHARPLY-When a horse’s front legs come off the ground at the start due to being crowded, unseated, bumped or otherwise disrupted by other horses in the starting gate. This can be an extremely costly mistake that can ruin a horse’s race.

BACK OUT OF CONTROL-When a horse is in command early in the race, but then starts to tire and loses his lead or is passed by another competitor. This can be caused by racing wide or by being hard ridden by his rider during the stretch run.

FOURTH COUNT-When a horse has four other horses ahead of him in the running of the race, usually around the clubhouse turn or in the final furlong. A fifth count is considered a dead heat.

GOOD BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH-A horse that was rated well but did not produce the necessary winning response for a number of reasons, generally because he had to be steadied at a key point in the race or because he had to race wide all the way and had little racing luck.

OVERLAY-A wager in which a player predicts that a horse will win the race at odds higher than those offered at the track. Overlays are usually good bets. Underlays are bad bets.

TIME TO PAUSE-When a horse’s jockey stops his riding during the running of the race in order to let the animal catch his breath. This is a major violation of the rules and can result in a loss of race or suspension.


The for-profit horse industry has long operated under a patchwork of state regulations and penalties that vary widely. These laws can range from how a trainer or owner may use his whip to how often a horse can be rested between races. It is time to take a long look at these rules and to consider how the sport can thrive in an age when the for-profit business of racehorses must also compete with modern culture, society and potentially even the legal system that recognizes that all living creatures are entitled to certain fundamental rights, including safety and a financial future. Donations by industry folks and gamblers are important, but they do not cancel out participation in a game that routinely takes the lives of Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan, Laoban and thousands more like them. The exploitation of these young horses must be stopped, and that can only happen when the industry takes a hard look at itself and makes the changes needed to protect the horses who race for a profit.