By Rachel Garvey
There are two types of people that live in Galway; the ones who attend Galway’s Race Week every year and the ones who have never attended Race Week. I am one of those few people who have never attended Race Week. I’m really not bothered though, I feel like I’m not missing much anyway.
Yes, I did grow up with horses and was a showjumper by the age of nine, but when it comes to horse racing, I turn my head the other way. Why do I turn my head the other way? I do it because, in my own mind, I see animal abuse, abuse that is encouraged by the gambling that happens during these so-called horse racing events. Betting big money on a horse that is sure to cross that finish line faster than all the others is a literal recipe for disaster. And who is to blame when that horse doesn’t come in first place? They will blame the horse for not performing as well as they expected it to, but they are wrong. The blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of the person who placed the bet, they are the reason why money is lost. A horse can only perform to the best of their ability, no more no less. We need to take into account that they are living beings just like us. If we are allowed stamp our heels and well-polished shoes in anger or annoyance for losing money on a bet that we have put on these beautiful animals, then they should be allowed stamp their hooves and pull back their ears in that same anger and annoyance for being looked upon as if they are merely used for our entertainment.
These events are taken way too seriously, if you ask me. Of course, seeing all the ladies dressed up in their fancy dresses and hats is nice, as well as seeing the men dressed in their pristine suits and shoes, but some people overlook all that for one thing; alcohol. I’ve seen it all, walking up Galway’s Shop Street after work at 11pm and being the only sober person surrounded by a sea of drunk individuals.
Then again, we all have to take the good with the bad; the good being that Race Week attracts a lot of tourists and tourists bring in those sweet dolla’ bills. The bad being that we deal with a sea of intoxicated people and try not to drown when we are around them, but we somehow manage to keep afloat. Race Week is honestly taken way too seriously, especially when it comes to excessive drinking and gambling, Race Week shouldn’t be used as an excuse for those addictions!
I’ll leave you with this final thought: while we enter in through the gates to Galway’s Racecourse and there’s a crowd of people all around you, dressed to impress, intoxicated, their hands filled with betting tickets, just take a moment to stop and think. All this is just to see a poor horse being whipped and pushed to their limit to make it to that finish line before all the rest, all so their betters and riders will gain money. Try putting yourself in their hooves, having the roles reversed so you can see and feel what they go through for your entertainment and your addiction. They are supposed to be the animals, animals that need to be treated right. So, why are we acting like animals and not them?