(BBC News School Report) Is it ethically right to make animals work until exhaustion for our own entertainment?

(Reported by Faye Macdonald, Year 9)

Animals have been used for entertainment for years but many of these past times have now been made illegal due to their cruel and unethical nature – bear baiting, dogfighting, cockfighting. However, in a world where animal rights are becoming increasingly strengthened, we need to ask ourselves why we still use animals to provide us with entertainment and benefits? Horses.  They are used in every form from being used to pull carts to professional horse racing on the televisions today. We may not link these activities to blood sports initially – but how are horses really treated?

People are interested in these majestic animals due to their agility and recently their speed which has evolved into the horse racing with people riding them, whipping them, to make them go faster. Personally I believe that they should not be whipped as is very cruel and hurts the horse themselves. Many are left with physical gashes where they have been mistreated. Usually horses are herd animals and live in groups but due to these races they are being separated therefore domestication has not benefited them at all. The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) do not support keeping horses in isolation. However, they do believe it is acceptable to keep them as long as there is a respectful relationship between them and companionship.

During horse races jockeys are required to carry whips with them, so even whip them repeatedly until they reach the finish line. This should be illegal but is actually accepted within that community as excusable. Jockey Ruby Walsh claims that horses are ‘replaceable’, demonstrating a nonchalant attitude towards these exhausted animals. In addition, many horses die on the racetracks. Tragically, 12 horses died in 2011 at the Grand National festival.

I interviewed many teachers at my school to get a variety of responses to this ethical issue…

Many believe that horse riding is not morally correct at all and that they should be free to live their lives without being exploited and manipulated for our benefits. One teacher (Miss Heath) told me that not only were they used for entertainment but forced to work for us as well.

In contrast all the teachers believed that horses that they saw were well treated and looked after but still believe that they need rules in order to protect them. Despite interviewing a range of people all of them had ridden a horse once whether it’s during their childhood or recently. This shows that many horses are needed to work giving them little free time. Rules that could be enforced to help them could be to ‘have standards that need to be met,’ as suggested by Mr Owen, the Assistant Head of the school. Another view could be to rehome them after they have retired to give them a chance and not being sent to a slaughter house recommended by Mr Jones, Geography teacher.

Overall, horses are treated well but there are many that are exhausted and there should be regulations enforced to make sure they are treated well in the future.