by Ross Sharp

Why is it, when a horse breaks its leg in a race, the horse is “put down”? That is, shot through the head. Or whatever.

Is it not possible to have the leg mended (it’s a broken leg), retire it from racing, and let it spend the rest of its days farting about in a paddock somewhere, or taking children for rides at fairs?*

“Broke a leg”.

“I’ll get the gun”.

They don’t shoot football players, do they?

“Thommo’s busted an ankle!”

“Shoot the cunt”.


An animal is purchased, assigned human ambitions and aspirations, of venal desires and vacuous passions, and, upon failing to fulfil them because it has an accident in the pursuit of its “masters” vocation, is shot through the head.

Or whatever.

… It sounds a little like a Howard-era industrial relations policy

“Did you put a bet on?”, someone asks me in the lift.

“No, not into it”, I reply, and soon after, the “race that stops a nation” stops an office, and one horse wins, another comes second, and another third.

One breaks a leg.

They shoot horses, don’t they?


*Question answered on Facebook …

“It’s generally not possible to have the leg mended (noticed how skinny horse legs are and how bulky horses themselves are?) What happens is that a horse with a damaged leg puts extra weight on the leg on the other sideand will bugger that one up too. That’s bad, but what makes it worse is that horse hearts are a bit lazy – they rely on the horse’s leg movement for much of the blood pumping. This is why horses don’t lie down much, and why they can sleep standing up. It’s not just racehorses, which are, as you say, property, bought to win money, that get put down when they break a leg. It’s much-loved pet horses too.”

Fair enough. Though they wouldn’t be breaking their legs in the first damn place if they weren’t being run fucking ragged in the name of “sport”.