- Animals in sport
Animals in sport are a specific form of
working animals. Many animals, at least in more commercial sports, are highly trained. Two of the most common animals in sport are horses and dogs.
Many organisations are dedicated to prevent
cruelty to animals, with supporters criticising the mental or physical suffering caused to animals, the death of the animals, or the fact that they are used at all.
Types of animal sporting events
There are many types of animal sporting events, with varying levels of participation from humans. Some are solely between the animals while others use the animals in a lesser role. Most sports involve training, while some can also involve
There are some large-scale events that include animals in a variety of sports. A
rodeocan comprise many different sports, ranging from bull ridingto pole bending.
Racing is the most popular form of animal-related sport, particularly
horse racing. Some racing events directly involve humans as riders while others see the animals race alone. In some sports the rider is not directly riding the animal(s), instead being pulled along. Examples of this include dogsled racingand popular ancient Greek and Roman sport of chariot racing. Greyhound racing, a popular form of animal racing, dates back to the 1800s in the United States, after the dogs were brought over from Europeto help control the harepopulation.Fact|date=May 2008 While track racing is the most common, there are other forms of racing. Pigeon racing, for example, sees homing pigeonsfinding their way home from a set distance away.
Racing events are a common way to gamble, with billions spent worldwide every year.Fact|date=May 2008 This is one reason that some countries or states have made such sports illegal.
One-on-one and team events
There are some non-racing competitive events involving animals.
Polois an example, with competitors hitting a ballwith mallets while on horseback. Elephant polodates back to the early 20th century when members of the British aristocracy in Nepalbegan playing the sport.Fact|date=May 2008
In the 14th to 16th centuries
joustingwas a popular one-on-one tournament event involving knights on horseback.
In most counties the act of two or more animals fighting each other, such as
cockfighting, is seen as cruel and is therefore illegal. Some legal animal fights take place around the world, including cow fightingand camel wrestling. There are also some legal forms of sport where humans fight animals, such as bullfightingwhich has a long history in Spanish and Portuguese tradition. Not all animals are large, however, with cricket fightingbeing a popular (though illegal to gamble on) sport in Macauand Hong Kong. [ [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/08/16/cricket_fighting_ring/ HK feds bust illegal cricket fighting ring] ]
There are several other
blood sports in history that were intended as entertainment, many of which involved baiting by dogs. Many different types of animal have been placed into a pit, sometimes tied to a post, and set upon by dogs. This ranges from rat-baitingand badger-baitingto bear-baitingand lion-baiting. There are even some tales of human-baiting.
Animals that take part in animal fights are usually specifically bred for strength and stamina.
Hunting began as a crucial component of
hunter-gatherersocieties, being an important source of food. The domestication of animals and the development of agriculturelessened the need for hunts, with food being more readily available. Hunting became a sport for those of the high social classes. In most parts of medieval Europe, the upper-class (aristocracy and higher clergy) obtained as privilege the sole rights to hunt in certain areas of a feudal territory.
Dangerous hunting, as for lions or wild boars, usually on horseback (or from a
chariot, as in Pharaonic Egypt and Mesopotamia) also had function similar to tournaments and manly sports: an honourable, somewhat competitive pastime to help the aristocracy practice skills of warin times of peace. In ancient Romethe " Venatio" was a form of entertainment that pitted humans against animals in an amphitheater.
In modern times, hunting is usually legal as long as the hunter has a license, though there are some unregulated forms in some countries. Animals can be on either side of a hunt, assisting the hunters or being hunted themselves.
Fishingis somewhat different from other hunting and is most commonly a pastime or hobby. However, it can also be a competitive sport. Fox huntinghas been a controversial issue, particularly in the United Kingdom, regarding the its necessity and the cruelty involved (See Fox hunting legislation). Pigeon shootingwas one of the shooting events of the 1900 Summer Olympics.
hows of training or breeding
Shows are intended to highlight the excellence of training or breeding of the animals involved. There are a variety of horse riding sports in this category, including
show jumpingand dressage, both of which feature at the Olympic Games.
Dogs, being easily domesticated, are one of the most popular animals to have in shows.
Sheepdog trials have been popular in many countries and are used to show how well a dogcan herd sheep. Other dog sportsof this category include dog agilityevents, whereby the dogs must tackle obstacle courses, and obedience trials, where they must execute a predefined set of tasks. Crufts, a conformation showfor dogs, has grown since it started in 1886. While dogs are the most common show animal, cat shows are also common. Both of these animals have a wide variety of breeds and compete in categories, comparing each individual to the breed "ideal."
Some unusual animals also take part in shows, such as the competitors in
rabbit show jumpingand finches in vinkenzetting.
Films and television series about animals in sport can be realistic or fictional, involving animals in an activity that they cannot really perform. "
Seabiscuit (film)" is a fairly accurate portrayal of the famous American horse of the same name, while "", a film about a hockey-playing chimpanzee, is unrealistic.
The 1980 animated film "
Animalympics" is a spoof of the Olympic Games and features anthropomorphicised animals. In the combination live actionand animationfilm " Bedknobs and Broomsticks", animated animals play a game of football.
From 1976 to 1999, the
BBCbroadcast " One Man and His Dog", a television seriesabout sheepdog trials. They also commissioned three series of " Pets Win Prizes", a game showwith contestants' pets having to perform in various tasks.
Man vs. Beast" is an American television show that pitches humans against animals in a variety of unusual challenges, including competitive eatingbetween world champion Takeru Kobayashiand a Brown Bear.
Animals on television
* [http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/content_pages/record_subcategory.asp?subcategoryid=87 Animal Sports records] at
Guinness World Records
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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