Sunday, September 25, 2022

Blog: “A Word in Your Ear” from Mr Peter Perrin

GRAND NATIONAL OR “DAMNED” NATIONAL?

Taking account of the history of the Grand National, i.e. the catalogue of death and injury caused to the horses “ forced” to take part, should this “accursed” event be stricken from the Sporting calendar?

Inevitably there will be those, such as Mr Paul Nicholls the trainer of this years’ winner, who will advocate the “Nationals’” continuance on the grounds that “When you are in competitive sport, whatever you do – motor racing, hockey – there is an element of risk”. Mr Nicholls goes on to say “We take risks in everything we do in our lives, every single day. All those people watch it [the Grand National] because they enjoy watching the sport”. Is Mr Nicholls seriously saying that it is acceptable to risk the lives of horses and riders provided people enjoy themselves? Does he also justify “bull-fights”, “dog-fights” etc. by the same criteria?

Mr Nicholls, with breath-taking arrogance, then further states ”Sport is risk. If people are going to continue to participate in sport, there is going to be both a human and animal risk. We have to live with that and get on with it. We have to grow up, basically. A lot of people have to grow up and realise that it is life and get on with it”. There speaks a man who is not the one taking the risks. How dare he infer that people who express their concern about the safety of those participating in the Grand National, animal or human, have to “grow up and realise that [risk] is life and get on with it”. Unlike Mr Nicholls there are those of us who do not agree that the risk of death or injury to animal or human is somehow justified by the pleasure and enjoyment of the spectator.

To deliberately put a horse into a position of danger where there is a high risk of death or serious injury is an act of cruelty. To repeatedly strike a horse with a whip is an act of cruelty. To force a horse to do something by inflicting pain or fear is an act of cruelty. Were greyhounds at a sporting event subjected to acts of cruelty people would be outraged and no doubt those responsible would be prosecuted.
There are those who argue that horses enjoy the thrill of the race, proven by the fact that they continue, riderless after falling, to run and jump. I would rebut that assumption by pointing out that horses are naturally a herd animal and they instinctively chase after the other horses to re-join the herd.

The more successful a horse is the greater it is penalised by the imposition of a weight handicap making it an even more gruelling test of its ability to safely negotiate the course.

Should the Grand National be banned? I believe it should simply because the loss of life and injury caused to the horses is too high a price to pay.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I am not usually a supporter of Mr. Perrin’s opinions, but this time, I think he has a very good point.

    Of course, what he didn’t mention is the real driving force behind this, which is greed. The risk for the majority is not to the horses or jockeys, but to their pocket. If there was no money at stake, would horse-racing still be a popular sport, based on the competitive element alone?

  2. Come on Peter Perrin………I know that you are passionate about animal welfare, and I agree.
    But you are better needed to keep our local councillors in order at this special time when they are getting so nervous about the forthcoming elections.

  3. Thank you Reem for your response. I am disappointed that you are not usually a supporter of my opinions but then, as Mr Paul Nicholls would say, thats life and I just have to get on with it. I deliberately kept my blog brief and concentrated on the issue of exposing horses to an “unacceptable” level of risk and the tragic consequences, for the horses, that occur as a result. I hoped that my comments would engender responses from people, such as you, and the issue would be broadened into a wider debate. You are quite right ” monetary greed” is the driving force that enables owners, trainers and jockeys to go unpunished for acts of deliberate “cruelty” in the name of sport and public enjoyment. It is also worth mentioning the hypocrisy of the same people, who constantly tell us how much they “love” their horses but only minutes earlier have watched as they [the horses] are flogged to the finishing line. Then there are the “crocodile” tears for the horses killed or injured and to hear these fatalaties described as “unfortunate accidents” is sickening.

    jmw118, Thanks for your encouragement.

  4. It isnt only at the grand national that horses are treated badly, I noted the other day that, a person was pulling frightened horses on to ground where they shouldnt be
    that is on land next to the M25 and on Howard Tenens Grounds off of Stifford Road, he pulled them through a steel barrier and then fastened them by putting them on rope leads and staking them to a circle, without water and food, I also noted that these same people so called horse lovers, will be showing off there steads by making them gallop along major roads pulling there owners along on racing rigs, I have seen the result of these so called owners when the horse cant stop at speed and crashes into a car or god forbid a person, isnt it about time that our police force calls a halt to these practices I have often seen them on Stifford Road holding up eight or nine cars and lorries because these people think it is clever to hold up the traffic, I am trying to get the RSPCA involved in stopping this annual suffering of defenceless horses and ponies on our roads and in fields uncared for and unloved by there so called owners.

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