When observing a galloping horse, one cannot help
but recognise itís elegance and beauty and the image of it running through
glorious scenery is very often used as a symbol of freedom. The horse is a
graceful creature, and there has been many a heart-wrenching story surrounding
manís complicated relationship with his horse, such as Black
the more recent,War Horse. The use of the horse to man
through the ages has been diverse, with it being used for farming, horseback
riding, pulling carriages and goods, and as a vehicle in warfare. It is
arguably one of the few animals that you can pluck from the wild, and fully domesticate
with systematic and laborious training. In Islamic spirituality, it is often
used as a symbol for the reining in of the ego (nafs≠). In the same way that one
would train a horse, bring it under control and have it respond to commands of
the hand and heel, we are to attain control over our desires and bring into
moderation bestial desires to oversleep and overeat.
Once again, the Grand National has dominated the
headlines and split national opinion as two horses were put down due to their
injuries during the race. Is using animals for sport cruel? Does horseracing
unnecessarily endanger the lives of horses, or is it just like all the risks we
face in day to day life? Should we accept that animals will die, or should more
be done to tackle the hazards?
Horses by their nature are not made for a solitary
and still barn life of little action, and certainly not the racehorses that are
bred for competitions like the Grand National. However, if they are to be
raced, then the race courses and manner in which races are held should be as
animal-friendly as possible.
Human beings are distinguished by their willpower
and intellect; both of these factors bring about a certain level of
responsibility to the rest of creation. Indeed, mankind are the vicegerents of
God on Earth, and they have a duty to preserve the rights of other creatures.
When matters are looked upon through such a lens, one begins to question the
morality of all sports and entertainment that brings harm to animals. Some are
calling for a complete ban on horseracing, whereas others are seeking to review
the number of horses on the course, as well as pulling certain fences such as
Bercherís Brook which claimed the lives of two horses last Saturday.
Whilst the argument against boxing is just as
strong Ė the face of the son of Adam is deemed ennobled and therefore
deliberating attacking it is seen as inhumane- the argument against sports
involving animals is stronger. Human beings have a choice, animals are
completely at the mercy of the decisions human beings make for them. Human
beings are not put down due to their injuries. Indeed, the owner ofSynchronised, one of the horses that were put
down, said in his grief that he would not be entering the race again. Perhaps
it is only when the loss is their own that each jockey will see the injustice
of what they are involved in.
One thing that we can be assured of is that it
wonít be easy to change the culture and attitude towards the Grand National.
When money is involved, people are driven by gain, and the whole drink and
dressing up culture that surrounds the race means itís all about having a good
time. Moreover, it will just be another tragic day recorded and forgotten
about, until next year, when it happens again, and it will be recalled as a
former statistic. Until we learn to value other things above lining our
pockets, the yardstick for our moral values will never change.