I take pain killers 3-4 times a day (prescription ones, too - Ultram plus two Tylenol) so I can keep working and wear pain patches (zylocaine patch or anti-inflammatory patch or Icy Hot patch), basically daily. Lots of joint injections, too.
If I were a racehorse I'd be treated better, for sure. (So, there you go NY Times, figure that one.)
I wouldn't want a horse on bute all day every day (for the same reason I don't take a tenth of the Advil or aspirin I might), but if they're aching, what are you going to do, get a Swedish masseuse? And if ti was bute, that's not going to keep a horse with a critical injury going. PETA just wants to start crap.