What is a Horse Race?

Horse race is a popular term for any contest involving horses. It may refer to a drinking game in which participants wager on the outcome of a horse race, or to a contest between horses, such as the one depicted in Norse mythology between the god Odin and his giant Hrungnir. Horse races have a long history, and have been practiced in many civilizations. The earliest recorded horse races occurred in ancient Greece, and have since spread across Europe and other parts of the world.

On a horse racetrack, humans perched on their backs compel animals — with a whip — to breakneck speed in close quarters. In nature, horses understand self-preservation and will stop and rest when they are injured. But in this artificial herd, pushed onward by that whip, the animals often die. They can suffer from pulmonary hemorrhage, collapsed lungs, severed spines and crushed limbs, sometimes with skin as the only thing keeping bones together.

While the animal welfare concerns in horse racing are serious, there are several other reasons that the veterinary community supports reforms to the sport. For example, a zero-tolerance drug policy, turf (grass) tracks only, a ban on whipping and competitive racing only after the animals’ third birthdays could make a big difference in the number of deaths that occur.

The AVMA’s resolution condemning unsanctioned racing is designed to protect the public and equine health. Unsanctioned racing is dangerous to equine health and well-being, particularly in terms of infectious disease, which can be transmitted by contact with a contaminated horse or soiled ground.

Horse racing is a complex sport, with an extensive set of rules and regulations that have evolved over time. For instance, organized racing began in North America with the British occupation of New Amsterdam in 1664. The colony’s ruler, Col. Richard Nicolls, established a system of organized racing that followed the British model. Nicolls’s rules emphasized stamina over speed, but the American Thoroughbred is a product of a shift toward speed that began after the Civil War.

A horse race strategy can be effective for certain organizations, though the current CEO and board must carefully weigh whether it is appropriate for the company’s culture and structure. Many directors are concerned that a protracted succession horse race will slow the organization down and lead to loss of business momentum. But those that succeed in using this approach have an appreciation for the value of competition and a belief that the best executive will ultimately emerge from the contest. This approach requires a high degree of trust and confidence in the talent pool at the organization, as well as a thorough understanding of its capabilities. The board and current CEO also must have a solid plan for developing high performers through a variety of functional assignments and stretch opportunities. These factors can help ensure that the top candidate will be ready to step into the role at hand.