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saratoga
May. 22, 2002, 10:41 AM
I have been a major racing fan since I was a teenager in the 1980s. I grew up near Saratoga but couldn't afford to take lessons or even be around horses so I got my "horse fix" by following racing. My goal was to become a trainer someday.

Well, now I am in my thirties and even though I can't stop following racing, I am really getting to hate the "sport". I've worked for a few seasons as a hotwalker at Belmont/Saratoga and I've worked as a groom at bush tracks in the SW, so I've pretty much seen the top and the bottom of the racing world. I have seen so many horses break down that I've lost count and it is very devastating to me, even if I don't know the horse. I hate the fact that most owners don't take reponsiblity for their horses and don't care what happens to them. It makes me sick that millionaires could let their former stakes horses drop down to the bottom claming levels, when they could easily buy the horse back and retire it for life without making any kind of financial sacrifice at all. I hate seeing so many older horses who could potentially make nice pleasure/sport horses being medicated with Bute, Lasix, corticosteroids, etc., and raced until they break down or are permanently lame.

I know that there are good people in the sport but I believe they are a minority and I personally feel that there are too many tragic things to overlook in the world of racing. For instance, it never fails to happen, you're having a great day at the track but then one hour later,a horse snaps it's leg right in front of you.

OK,just wondered how you fellow race fans feel and how you handle the downside.

saratoga
May. 22, 2002, 10:41 AM
I have been a major racing fan since I was a teenager in the 1980s. I grew up near Saratoga but couldn't afford to take lessons or even be around horses so I got my "horse fix" by following racing. My goal was to become a trainer someday.

Well, now I am in my thirties and even though I can't stop following racing, I am really getting to hate the "sport". I've worked for a few seasons as a hotwalker at Belmont/Saratoga and I've worked as a groom at bush tracks in the SW, so I've pretty much seen the top and the bottom of the racing world. I have seen so many horses break down that I've lost count and it is very devastating to me, even if I don't know the horse. I hate the fact that most owners don't take reponsiblity for their horses and don't care what happens to them. It makes me sick that millionaires could let their former stakes horses drop down to the bottom claming levels, when they could easily buy the horse back and retire it for life without making any kind of financial sacrifice at all. I hate seeing so many older horses who could potentially make nice pleasure/sport horses being medicated with Bute, Lasix, corticosteroids, etc., and raced until they break down or are permanently lame.

I know that there are good people in the sport but I believe they are a minority and I personally feel that there are too many tragic things to overlook in the world of racing. For instance, it never fails to happen, you're having a great day at the track but then one hour later,a horse snaps it's leg right in front of you.

OK,just wondered how you fellow race fans feel and how you handle the downside.

BabyGoose
May. 22, 2002, 08:52 PM
I am kind of in the same place. I loved horse racing as a kid. I read all the black stallion books, begged my Mom to take me to the track. I even carried around a portable radio on the weekends all summer because they would broadcast the races and I never wanted to miss any of them.

I am also in my thirties now and still follow racing some but am also much more aware of the downside of racing. I don't like the horrible stuff that goes on but like any sport involving animals and money there is going to be bad as well as good. I still go to the local track in the summer but I am finding it harder to bet or spend any money while I'm there as I don't want to support the industry.

I think what bothers me the most is all the excess horses that result from the sport. It makes me sad to think of all the unwanted, washed up, non winners that end up in the auction headed to slaughter or bad homes. And since I own the most wonderful, sweetest, off track TB its even harder to think about.

So I send money to the TB rescues, and pray for no injuries every time I watch a race and sometimes feel a bit like a hipacrite (spelling?).

Elghund2
May. 23, 2002, 06:50 AM
I'll have to admit that I get caught up in the same predicament. I love watching the horses run but knowing what goes on behind it is tough. I just wish the racing industry wouldn't start them so young and give them a chance to mature. Its too much pounding for young legs.

"I'll care when I'm dead" - me

saratoga
May. 23, 2002, 07:32 AM
" So I send money to the TB rescues, and pray for no injuries every time I watch a race and sometimes feel a bit like a hipacrite (spelling?)"

This sounds just like me- I do feel guilty for going to the track and now the main thought I have during the race is hoping no one breaks down. I do believe that the racing industry will be extinct in the future and I hope it happens. I just signed a petition to keep slot machines out of the tracks in my state.

Flash44
May. 23, 2002, 08:39 AM
You have the wrong perspective. Race horses are not pets. They are not companion animals like dogs or cats. They are domesticated work animals similar to cows, sheep, etc. The only difference is that we do not eat horses (in the US). They have been bred for thousands of years specifically to perform work. The job of a race horse is to race.

People took this work animal and developed many uses for it as a pleasure and sport animal. They are also beautiful and have a lot of heart. But human-equine love is often unrequited, meaning people become more attached to horses than horses to people. Not to say that there are not affectionate horses, but horses can't hold a candle to dogs with respect to affection.

The job of a cow is to provide food, milk and leather. The job of a sheep is to provide food and wool. the job of a pig is to provide food and pigskin. It's not like wild horses were rounded up, broke, and forced to race.

What else is a race horse going to do? Most riders are not capable of handling TBs without professional help. they don't make good pets. Should people just stop breeding TBs? they are the foundation of most of today's sport horses, and many eventers come from the track.

I've been in racing since 1983. Yup, there are some bad people who take poor care of horses. But go to the H/J board and see how overmedicated today's show horses are just so Little Susie can win a blue ribbon! I say racing is much more honest to the horse than showing. At least race horses are winning money for their efforts. do you think a hunter or jumper knows he won the class? Do you think he understands why Little Susie is pulling on his mouth and jabbing him with spurs when he is trying his best to get around the course despite his sore back and his sore hocks? /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Please, you can criticize racing when the abuse stops in halter, gaited, h/j, dressage, and other horse sports.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

horselips
May. 23, 2002, 08:54 AM
forced to agree with Flash. Racing may well be cruel, but so is most, if not all showing. AND much of showing really IS so little Suzie can brag to her less fortunate friends about her blue ribbon collection. Little Suzie doesn't give a $h1t about the horse, as long as she looks good.

"Smile: It makes people wonder what you're up to..."

saratoga
May. 23, 2002, 09:20 AM
So, just because there are unethical practices going on in other horse sports that makes everything that goes on in racing OK? That's pretty poor logic.

Yes, tbs were bred over the years for racing, but to say that they can't make good pleasure horses is not true. Yes, they generally do require a more experienced rider, but there is also a BIG difference between ottbs and never-raced tbs. I've noticed that the horses at the track tend to be tough to work with off the track because they still have the habits they developed at the track. Like walking all over their handlers, anxiety, being unsuitable for pleasure riding because they were never broke/started correctly. I am working with a mare now who was a dangerous, nervous wreck at the track but I think she is going to turn out to be an awesome riding horse, with time. Yes, tbs tend to be hotter than the average QH, but I think that most of them would be FAR better suited to being a pleasure horse if they did not have any on-track experience.

I think the main difference is that MOST people who are in other horse sports are just people who truly love and care for their horses. They do not "discard" them when they can no longer produce. Of course, at the top levels perspectives may get skewed and the best interests of the horse may get pushed aside.

Racing IS a business, at all levels.
If racehorses can't keep racing at the level they are at and have no breeding value, they WILL be claimed lower and lower until they reach the end at the auction or hopefully, adoption. I think that like grayhound racing, this type of attitude is something of the past. There are better forms of gambling available that don't use animal's lives.

This is just my observation. One that I never thought I would come to- I loved racing so much as a kid.

Whistlejacket
May. 23, 2002, 09:22 AM
Sorry Flash44 and horselips, I cannot agree with the argument that just because other horse disciplines have cruel traing methods, than that justifies the lack of right to criticize (and try to correct) cruel training methods in one's chosen horse discipline - in this example TB racing.

Whether it be in our specific horse disciplines or in other venues in our lives, our society, our government, etc., I believe that we have a responsibility to act in the best and most responsible way we can in our specific arena...regardless of what so-and-so in doing "down the hall".

Frankly, this is the only way that a society advances in terms of enlightment and moral progress. If we all just waited to improve things in our individual areas until the "next guy" got his act together, then progress would never be made, and we would remain fixed at a Neanderlath level.

(For example, can you imagine if that was the logic that prevailed in terms of granting women the right to vote..."We're not going to do anything about it until so-and-so does something about it, and so-and-so isn't going to do something about it until the next guy does something about it, on and on, in a never ending circle of "non-progress".)

Yes, cruelty in the horse industry is widespread, and there is not a single discipline that is free of it. But a way to step-by-step improve things is to take action in one's own area, however small one's "sphere of influence" may be.

Allowing someone's bad behavior in one area as a as permission for deficits in one's own area simply brings you down to his level.

[This message was edited by Whistlejacket on May. 23, 2002 at 12:33 PM.]

[This message was edited by Whistlejacket on May. 23, 2002 at 01:05 PM.]

[This message was edited by Whistlejacket on May. 23, 2002 at 01:08 PM.]

Flash44
May. 23, 2002, 11:09 AM
Racing is not cruel, people are cruel.

Not only is racing much more regulated than any other equine sport, it spends way more money on research and product and drug development to help horses stay sound and healthy than any other equine sport. No other equine sport puts forth such effort.

Racing is doing everything possible to keep the sport clean. When was the last time the state vet stood in the schooling area at a horse show to determine whether or not the horses were sound enough to compete? With the exception of bush league tracks, the 1 and 2, or 1, 2 and 3 finishers in EVERY race in the country are drug tested. A favorite that runs unusually bad is also tested. The stewards have the power to test any horse in any race. They can also test any person holding a track license, whether it be a trainer, exercise rider, jockey, hotwalker, or groom. All of the above are fingerprinted and on file with the FBI, as are all owners.

What exactly is your solution? Horses are examined by the state vet before they are allowed to run, and the vet watches them warm up on the track. The jockey has the power to scratch the horse as well. Trainers that run sore horses do not win races, and if the horses break down, they will probably lose the owner as well.

Racing is a much harder sport than showing. The horses are exerting themselves 100%, and injuries are unavoidable. Horses are much more diffucult to treat than humans, or even dogs, and injuries such as compound fractures become fatal.

And comparing TBs to other breeds, they are almost least suited to life as a pleasure horse. They are athletes, need regular exercise, and are more high strung than most other breeds. Plus, they are harder keepers as a whole. And other than eventing, there is not a big demand for purebred skinny fast horses in the sport horse world. Is the solution the breeders? Go ask any sport horse breeder how much money they are making breeding TBs for the show ring. It's more a labor of love.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

MKM
May. 23, 2002, 11:21 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Racing is not cruel, people are cruel <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

excellent point

buryinghill1
May. 23, 2002, 11:33 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by MKM:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Racing is not cruel, people are cruel <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>excellent point<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, excellent point. The track is fun. It's a blast to have a few drinks, eat dinner, spend some money (win some?) and jump up and down.
/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif I have friends who won't go because it's morally wrong.
Free country. Their choice.
Longeing a junior hunter for 2 hours is cruel.
Training Big-Lick Walking horses is WAY more cruel.

Don't make me feel guilty for having fun. Sadly animals do get used for our entertainment. I know that the horses in my life have been well treated.

saratoga
May. 23, 2002, 01:21 PM
yd, it is not my intention to make anyone feel guilty. I just wondered how people who care about horses feel about racing and deal with the bad aspects of it. I love a day at the races as much as anyone and life on the backstretch is addicting, but when it is all said and done now, knowing the fates of so many of these horses outweighs any fun I have.

SLW
May. 23, 2002, 04:29 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by saratoga:
to hate the "sport". so I've pretty much seen the top and the bottom of the racing world. I have seen so many horses break down that I've lost count and it is very devastating to me, even if I don't know the horse. I hate the fact that most owners don't take reponsiblity for their horses and don't care what happens to them. It makes me sick that millionaires could let their former stakes horses drop down to the bottom claming levels, when they could easily buy the horse back and retire it for life without making any kind of financial sacrifice at all. I hate seeing so many older horses who could potentially make nice pleasure/sport horses being medicated with Bute, Lasix, corticosteroids, etc., and raced until they break down or are permanently lame.

I know that there are good people in the sport but I believe they are a minority and I personally feel that there are too many tragic things to overlook in the world of racing. For instance, it never fails to happen, you're having a great day at the track but then one hour later,a horse snaps it's leg right in front of you.

OK,just wondered how you fellow race fans feel and how you handle the downside.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

A good friend of mine is the farm manager for the mares, foals, yearlings and two year olds at a TB farm. I admire their "growing up" plan- everything is kept outside 24/7 except for the twice daily hand walking into the stable for meals. The owner does sell off horses which are not suitable for racing which I think is kind, they aren't forced to race. I can't fault them for that plan.

I know how they start their two year olds and it's not a bad start, much less "ride time" than my friends who are showing 2 year olds in WP so I do think Flash's post did bring up solid points.

I hate the breakdowns but it does happen in every riding dicipline.

I dont hang out on the track up in Kansas City and I don't know how the "not quite so famous" horses are kept. However, I see such sad situations at a local clinic due to owner ignorance. One gentleman brought in a horse which looked poor, VERY poor and it was not eating well. The horses was filled w/ worms. The owner offered that he wormed the horse last spring and he thought once a year was enough. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif Another person brought in a foal, they bred the mare, because the mare kicked the foal off of her. They were clueless as to basic "what to do when the foal hits the ground" care and the result was the foal got joint ill, of the three cases I've seen it was the absoulute worst- hocks the size of grapefruits. The vet worked on the foal but it had to be put to sleep- all because backyard owners were clueless. The saddest thing was that they had another mare at a breeders getting her bred......

Support the good race horse owners.

SLW
"It is I."

BabyGoose
May. 23, 2002, 05:43 PM
As I stated in my original post, there ARE GOOD AND BAD in ALL disciplines and saying one sport can be critisized after all the others haved cleaned up their act is not a logical statement. If there are bad things going on in your sport than work to clean it up, don't say it is okay because other sports do it.

And as long as we are NOT generalizing, not all racing TBs are good for one thing. I own a wonderful off track TB. I am far from an experienced rider and though I do take lessons I don't require a "professional" to handle my horse. Matter of fact he is downright lazy. And God forbid I was crippled and unable to ride tomarrow, I would keep my off track TB because I think he would make an excellent pet. I know several people who have off track TBs and they are all wonderful. Initial training off the track might take someone familiar with the retaraining of TBs, but I think a huge percentage of them could go on to a variety of careers. They have wonderful personalities and if any horse could rival a dog in affection it is my TB. He will leave his food for scratches and always wants to be petted and played with. It is the sterotype that all TBs are raging monsters is what probably keeps a lot of people from getting a really good horse. My TB and I got scores in the mid 60's at our dressage show and the lady who showed him before was getting high 60's and the occasional low 70's.

I doubt that race horses know any more that they have won their OWNERS money than Little Susi's pony knows he won her a blue ribbon. Yes they are bred to run, but given the option I doubt they would load into a starting gate and run around the track any more than the pony would go jump a round by their own devices. They are no less "forced" than a wild horse would be.

But these sports are not going away and I don't think they should. But we should be trying to treat the animals we use for our entertainment with all the respect that they deserve. They aren't machines, but living things afterall.

horselips
May. 23, 2002, 07:16 PM
...I believe my 7yo Mo' horse would load into the trunk of my car, if he could fit. He certainly walked right into the scary-looking wheel chair ramp chute (with stairs) all on his own. And up some bleacher-stairs, once just because he's curious and loves to make me laugh. But then, he's my big buddy, and yes, he knows it /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

"Smile: It makes people wonder what you're up to..."

Linny
May. 23, 2002, 07:43 PM
I just found this thread and I agree with Flash. I too work in racing and I have some H/J friends who hate racing because it's "cruel." Most of thewm have only heard vague talk about abuse or ill feeding etc.
I would add to Flash's posts that for most trainers/owners or other connections, the horse is a meal ticket. It is in their interest to preserve a decent horse. Sub par horses, as in ANY equine sport are the ones in possible peril. An inordinate percentage of racing people care enough to place slow horses. I work at Saratoga over the summer. I personally know of 6 well know trainers who placed horses in retirement right off the Saratoga backstretch.
Race horses are bred to RACE. The ability that many have to perform as ring horses of all manners is testament to the breed.
I realize that just because there is cruelty in other sports doesn't it right in racing BUT for a h/j rider to have an issue with racing beacuse of cruelty is unfair. Hunter riders should peek into some barns in their own sport before pointing fingers accusingly at other disciplines.

Resident racing historian
May the horse be with you -Harvey Pack May you be with the horse - My last trainer

saratoga
May. 23, 2002, 08:00 PM
I am NOT a hunter rider (I event at the lower levels and also do competitive trail) and I am not pointing fingers at anybody. Racing was the very first horse sport that I was involved with. I am very aware of what goes on in the racing industry, having worked in it for many years. My best friend has a trainer's license. I know that there are concerned people who do find homes for their horses but they are not the majority, from what I have observed. I simply wanted to know how fellow horse-lovers feel about the "unmentioned dark side" of the sport, but apparently, there is a lot of denial.

hitchinmygetalong
May. 24, 2002, 03:14 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by saratoga:
I simply wanted to know how fellow horse-lovers feel about the "unmentioned dark side" of the sport, but apparently, there is a lot of denial.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I for one will not deny the "dark side" but what do you do? Walk away from horses because there are New Hollands, because there are big-lick walking horses, because there are over-medicated hunters, because there are exhausted western pleasure horses plodding around in a "pleasure" class, because there are sore-footed, sore-jointed, buted to death horses in the barn down the road?

I DON'T turn a blind eye to the problems in the horse world. And I educate those who are willing to listen. And I take care of the one horse I have been blessed with, and draw the line at acquiring any more because I don't have the means to support another horse in what I consider a proper manner.

What else can one person do?

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship."
-Louisa May Alcott

horselips
May. 24, 2002, 06:53 AM
My feelings exactly. MY 1st love was racing, too. When I got my 1st horse, I didn't have time to follow racing as much. AND I also felt guilty, but old habits die hard. After I witnessed 1st hand what goes on in other breeds, I began to feel that maybe the racers weren't so bad off after all. At least they get to retire after a few years. Not so in the (fill in the blank) world. Yes, many go to slaughter. So do QHs, Apps, Arabs, TWHs, Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage horses, ad infinitum.

"Smile: It makes people wonder what you're up to..."

Flash44
May. 24, 2002, 09:07 AM
OK, saratoga, so exactly how many horses break down every day or year? Do you have exact figures? What are the percentages of racing horses that die while racing every year? How many is a lot?

As far as I'm concerned, 1 dead horse is too many. But I think racing does everything possible to guarantee that the horses that go to the post are sound and healthy. Jocks refuse to ride if the track is bad, and look how many scratches there were on the Preakness undercard! In some races, almost half the field scratched due to the rain.

And honestly, I see much more "dark" in the h/j world and the backyard horse world than I do the racing world.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

saratoga
May. 24, 2002, 09:36 AM
I THINK I saw a few years ago that for NYRA the stats were 1 in 1000 starts was a catastrophic (life-ending) injury. This would probably be about 1 horse dying on the track every 12 days or so. This doesn't count work-outs. I would suspect the rates are much higher at the lower class tracks.
If you spend a lot of time at the track both in the mornings and in the afternoons you WILL see a lot of sad stuff. When I was at the track full time I saw probably on average one horse a week shatter a leg either at the races or in the morning.
I don't have any answers. For me, I just don't want to be involved in a sport where I have to see this kind of stuff on a regular basis. Thats just my opinion. I never meant this thread to be race fan bashing. I just wondered how people felt about the sad stuff, if it affected their feelings about the sport and how they dealt with it.

FairWeather
May. 24, 2002, 10:09 AM
Flash44--EXCELLENT POST! I want to hand that out to people who ask me the same question.

Hitch...You ask "what do you do"

Well, you get in on the backside and teach these trainers how to place horses off the track once they are finished racing. (ie: CANTER--tooting own horn here /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif )
You give trainers an outlet for injured animals that need to move out right away. TRF, Exceller, etc.
You train folks on the backside proper restraining methods, proper first aid, proper health evaluation (Colonial Downs is doing this for grooms etc)

The fact is, Racing has an ugly side...but so does every discipline. But of all the ugly sides of each discipline, the only one I see trying to remedy it is the racing industry.

I love the track. I go every weekend for CANTER, and try to see the races at least twice a month. If I could swing it, I'd quit my job and be there everyday. Thoroughbreds love to run, and watching a good one bear down the stretch is enough to make me understand why I love racing AND horses /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Always,
FairWeather
"Just call me mint jelly cuz i'm on the lamb!--Grandpa
http://www.fairweather-farm.com

Linny
May. 24, 2002, 10:40 AM
Saratoga, I wasn't saying that you were pointing fingers, but plenty of riders in different disciplines DO. I can't tell you how many times my "riding" friends ask me how I can work in racing. (I'm sure Flash has the same experiences)
I am lucky to be involved in the highest end of the business NY racing. I'm sure that much goes all at all levels that I'd hate to see. However, racing people are not meaner or crueler than other horse handlers. There is always going to be an "underclass" of shady dealers, abusers etc. Race horses get the best food, medicine and vet care. Racing , as Flash said is in the forefront of veterinary technology. How many riding associations, horse show managers and stable owners make huge donations to organizations like the Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation? Most of their support is from racing.
Racing is a tougher and more demanding sport than most. There is less opportunity for the slow horse than there is for an "average" jumper. I'd also like to remind pleasure riders (wether for show or not) that once there was a HUGE demand for tb's. Now with the popularity of wb's trainers who hope to place show horses don't have as many option. That problem for caring race owner was caused by trends in the riding world.

Resident racing historian
May the horse be with you -Harvey Pack May you be with the horse - My last trainer

saratoga
May. 24, 2002, 11:14 AM
Linny, I know what exactly what you mean about your "riding" friends wondering how you can like racing. I sometimes hate to admit to other horse people that I am into racing because I've gotten ripped into over the years.
I know that a lot of people have misconceptions about it. My husband (a non-horse person) thought that racehorses were "starved and beaten". I know that most racehorses DO receive good grooming and feeding WHILE they are useful to their connections. But when that usefulness ends, the horse has to go. Somewhere.
I disagree that the sport horse market trending away from ottbs is at fault. As an example, I have an Appy mare who is not sound as a result of a kick by another horse. My husband and I are responsible for this animal. There is unfortunately no market for a lame Appy, so I guess I have to do the right thing and take care of her. Even though it does hurt our pocketbook.

haligator
May. 24, 2002, 11:57 AM
Hi All,
I feel a need to wade into this fray. I've been around all kinds of horses my whole life - hunters and jumpers, polo ponies, foxhunters, western pleasure horses, dressage horses, event horses, gaited horses, and racehorses.

I'm now 41, and have seen more sadness than anyone should have to deal with. I was there the day Ruffian broke down, and I was there when poor Exogenous flipped at the Breeder's Cup. These are well-known examples of things that happened on the racetrack - everyone is aware of them because racing is in the news more than any other horse sport. Both of these horses had brilliant trainers who loved these mares with all their heart. Accidents happen - it is a part of any horse sport.

However, I've also seen hunters heading to be cripples by the age of 8 because of being lunged for hours and then jumped over a 100 'warm-up' fences before their first class; I've seen unfit polo ponies pass out on the polo field; I've seen foxhunters fall down because the novice on their back didn't know what a two-point position was; I've seen western pleasure 'trainers' deprive their horse of water for hours so that it went 'dog quiet'; I've seen event horses die by breaking legs and necks; I've seen dressage horses with blood running from their mouths because the 'trainer' had such rough hands; and I've seen gaited horses have their brains fried by people setting off fireworks to get the horses upheaded and bright-eyed.

There is abuse and stupidity in every horse discipline. Don't point fingers just at horse racing! That's a slippery slope for all horse sports if you start down that hill. There are bad apples in every barrel.

The real issue should be humane education across the board for all horseman. That being said, 99% of the horsemen I meet love their horses and will feed their horses before they buy their own breakfast.

I'll be honest, if there were a poll, I'll bet racetrackers donate more money to horse rescues and equine scientific research like the Grayson Jockey Club Foundation (that benefits all horses) than any other group of horseman. I have no statistics on this, but I run with a lot of different 'crowds' and I know how generous racetrackers are - from the hotwalkers up to the millionaire owners.

You can argue with me all you want - I've been there, done that, and I know what I've seen.

Gallop On!
Hallie McEvoy
Racing Dreams, LLC

Flash44
May. 24, 2002, 12:21 PM
Fairweather - great ideas, maybe send mailings to owners and lay up facilities about CANTER.

It's great to want to educate race track grooms on equine health etc. However, remember that many of them only speak as much English as necessary, and some from other countries don't read or write English at all, or even their native language. Many American race track grooms come from the lower socioeconomic neighborhoods in the area, and you will have to fill in some of the holes in their basic education before you will be able to provide further health care instruction.

I think the grooms usually do a great job. It's not really their position to diagnose and develop treatment programs for the horses. It's their jobs to notice changes and report them to the trainer. Most trainers do not tolerate abuse or even rough handling. Most trainers will fire any help that is mistreating a horse. I know one top NY trainer that threw away all the sweat scrapers in the barn afte a groom smacked a horse on the haunches with one after the horse tried to kick him during a bath.

I was in the barn of one h/j trainer who decided to tranquilize a horse to trim it's ears. The tranquilizer was injected by the trainer into the horse's carotid artery and the horse flipped over and smashed it's head on a wall, had horrible seizures, and died. Race track trainers are not even allowed to POSSESS needles or syringes, and can be suspended if even so much as a needle is found in their tack room or vehicle. Vets do all the medicating there.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

Linny
May. 24, 2002, 03:44 PM
I apologize for deviating from the main thread but I saw a photo of a Freckles baby in the "Slew" issue of B-H. The baby is adorable and the mare is going back to River Keen.

Also, I'm glad another riding/racing crossover joined the thread. I'm amazed at how many riders are under the impression that racing is cruel.

I suspect that a racing fit horse looks "skinny" to many h/j types. I was at Saratoga for the Alabama last summer and brought a riding pal to the paddock to see Flute. He impression was that Flute looked starved! Something tells me that Bobby Frankel's horses aren't undernourished! As you know, Flute won the Alabama handily.

Resident racing historian
May the horse be with you -Harvey Pack May you be with the horse - My last trainer

Showpony
May. 24, 2002, 04:50 PM
Race track trainers are not even allowed to POSSESS needles or syringes, and can be suspended if even so much as a needle is found in their tack room or vehicle. Vets do all the medicating there.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...[/QUOTE]

Sorry but NOTHING could be farther from the truth!!! I know of trainers who medicate thier own/clients horses, needles and all! Of course they would never admit it or let anyone see them as it is forbidden at the track. DON'T KID YOURSELF!!! These are trainers at "respectable" tracks. I have heard plenty of stories about racehorses dying after having reactions to medications given by vets or trainers.

Some people seem to be willing to risk it all to win, in EVERY sport.

Also just because a horse passes a quick glance by the vet and feels ok to the jockey doesn't mean it should be running. I have seen myself horses running with freshly bowed tendons, suspencories, bone chips and fractures, often on the drop in an effort to get them claimed before they break down for thier current owner.

Yes this is the dark side of racing and not just seen at the bush tracks and not just seen with race horses.

I also feel like a hypocrite everytime I see a horse break down at the track I ask myself how I can love horses and see this happen so often. I guess the difference with show horses is it just isn't as graphic and final. Also I know MY(and the others I know of) show horses are treated right, I have no control over the racehorses and have seen to many "not done right by" by others.

[This message was edited by showpony on May. 24, 2002 at 08:06 PM.]

Jane
May. 24, 2002, 08:06 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I think the main difference is that MOST people who are in other horse sports are just people who truly love and care for their horses.
They do not "discard" them when they can no longer produce. Of course, at the top levels perspectives may get skewed and the best interests of
the horse may get pushed aside. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm from the world of h/j, and I truely don't believe any one particular discipline love/care for their horses more than the others. And like Flash said, racing is not cruel, people are cruel, and it's a guarantee you'll find cruel people in every discipline. What about the over-worked schoolies who live on bute in the over-crowded, poorly run h/j or dressage barns? or some of the "top" hunter/jumper/dressage kept on all kinds of drugs until a few days before a show? polo ponies dropping dead of a heartattack in the middle of a game......you get the drift.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I suspect that a racing fit horse looks "skinny" to many h/j types.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think this all goes back to the issue of "un-eduation"....many who are unfamiliar with other disciplines, instead of making the effort to learn about something they don't know, simply make their own assumptions. FWIW, most h/j people I know know the difference, we refer to these "skinny" horses as "racing fit". /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

saratoga, I understand where you're coming from, but I really don't think racing is any worse than other horse "sports". It gets more attention because it's a much more "public" sport, and because of the nature of the discipline, the danger level (thus the injury) is much higher. BUT, which is worse -- a race horse breaking a leg and has to be put down, or ,a horse dragging its tired, aching body, with someone bouncing all over its back and yanking on his mouth, day in and day out? If I was a horse, I'd rather be the former.

JMHO,

saratoga
May. 24, 2002, 09:01 PM
Again, I just really don't see the point of comparing abuses in other sports for justification of what goes on somewhere else. I don't care which abuse is worse- I just don't want to be a part of it or see it!!!!!!!!

BTW, I got my start riding by taking lessons at a h/j barn in upstate NY. The school horses were exactly what you described below- they were old, sore, & stiff and they had cart us beginners around for hours. They were kept in stalls and I don't think that they *ever* got turned out. Really. At the time, I was just thrilled to be finally riding and I didn't think anything of it, but looking back I feel really bad for those poor horses. But I'd never say, "Since there are old school horses suffering, its OK for me to run a racehorse until it breaks down."

Now I do dressage/eventing at the lower levels and do competitive trail riding. When I go to horse trials and dressage shows, I do not see *anything* that turns me off. I'm sure at the higher levels there are unethical practices going on because of the competitive drive of the people involved and $$$, but at my level I just see woman and girls who love horses and have a fun time showing.

haligator
May. 24, 2002, 10:17 PM
Hi Linny,
Thanks for the tip about the Freckles baby in Blood-Horse. I'll check it out! Juliet is back in foal to him, too. Romeo is doing very well, and seems to be typical of the River Keens - leggy, athletic, and personality plus.

Hey, I have to take a trip to Saratoga in the next few weeks to drop something off at the Racing Museum. Could I take you to lunch? It would be fun to meet in person and talk about the racing world.

Let me know.

Gallop On!
Hallie McEvoy
Racing Dreams, LLC

Flash44
May. 25, 2002, 09:23 AM
Hm, I've never seen syringes or needles in the posession of race track trainers. Maybe I'm just not hanging with the right bunch. I'm sure some do medicate their own horses, but the ones I'm familiar with would never risk suspension. When a race track trainer is suspended, he is not allowed on the grounds of any race track. Since all his horses are stabled at the track, it's a stiff penalty, he can't even go to work during his suspension.

War Emblem has 3 bone chips. He's sound. I wonder how many other horses out there have chips and no one knows because they are sound? Chips don't cause a horse to break down, although they can make him lame. I don't think Baffert believes War Emblem will break a leg off. He will probably get sore and then will be retired to stud.

As for running horses with bows and fractures, maybe those 3 horse trainers at the bottom of the barrel would do something like that. First they have to get the horse past the vet.

Oh, and where is all the uproar about Martina Hingis possibly retiring because at the ripe old age of 20 something, she is too joint sore to continue playing professional tennis? Apparently, she is suing the shoe company she endorses for millions (it's in the paper) claiming the shoes caused physical problems for her.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

malarkey
May. 25, 2002, 11:18 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by haligator:
I feel a need to wade into this fray....
There is abuse and stupidity in every horse discipline.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Right on, haligator. What peeves me about the finger pointing is that in my experience, it always seems to be non-horse people who do this. They know/find out I'm into horses, and they start in, "did you know..." well der! what are they thinking? yes in fact, I have heard that story, and I just might know something that you don't about that! Same deal for the premarin mares. non-horse people always bring that up to me... "did you know..?!" *sigh*

ejm
May. 25, 2002, 05:26 PM
Given the choice, would you prefer to see a horse break down racing and be humanely destroyed on the spot, or die from stupidity and neglect? I can't defend racing a truly unsound horse, but having seen the abysmal condition of many "backyard" horses, it bothers me a lot less when a horse breaks down racing, after receiving premium care its entire life, than when a horse dies because the owner just doesn't care, after it has stood around starving and suffering for months.

At least Thoroughbred trainers try to keep their horses sound enough to train and run so they can make a living, not deliberately making them unsound or nearly comatose from hours of drilling just for a ribbon.

FairWeather
May. 26, 2002, 06:57 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Saratoga wrote: Again, I just really don't see the point of comparing abuses in other sports for justification of what goes on somewhere else. I don't care which abuse is worse- I just don't want to be a part of it or see it!!!!!!!!
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

By that measure, you should stay out of every horse discipline, because abuse happens everywhere. Turning a blind eye and saying "I dont wanna see this" does nothing. Staying to be a part of something you love, be it racing, trail riding, polo, jumpers--Staying and making a difference in the industry speaks louder than walking away and washing your hands.


People need to put their money where thier mouth is. If you enjoy horses, but hate the abuses they may suffer, do something simple! DONATE MONEY to the causes who are making a difference! I know personally that every single dollar donated to CANTER goes into buying horses on their way to the killers--EVERY dollar! No one gets gas money, vet money, farrier money...nothing. So, 100$ you send in is 1/4 the amount of making sure a horse has a home for life. We cant catch them all, but we catch more than a lot of folks do.
TRF, Exceller...All doing FANTASTIC work to help the horses who do suffer the consequences of uncaring owners. We may not be able to change how some owners/trainers deal with their horses after their career is over, but we can form a safety net to catch them ourselves.
Hope that makes sense...

Always,
FairWeather
"Just call me mint jelly cuz i'm on the lamb!--Grandpa
http://www.fairweather-farm.com

Showpony
May. 26, 2002, 07:05 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Flash44:
Hm, I've never seen syringes or needles in the posession of race track trainers.

I don't think Baffert believes War Emblem will break a leg off.

As for running horses with bows and fractures, maybe those 3 horse trainers at the bottom of the barrel would do something like that. First they have to get the horse past the vet.


I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Of course you wouldn't see trainers with needles.
Doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I am sure BB doesn't think War Emblem will break down, neither do I. I hope no trainer thinks their horse will break down in a race.

From what I have seen, it is not that hard to get a horse past the vet. It is not like a prepurchase vetting. We bought a horse that had a fresh bow he was being raced on because the owner didn't want to give him time off. We bought him and gave him a year off. This was a trainer with a full barn, near the top of the standings at a "reputable" track.

It is not uncommon for trainers to drop horses down who have"problems"to try to get them claimed, it is part of the "game".

saratoga
May. 26, 2002, 10:24 AM
"By that measure, you should stay out of every horse discipline, because abuse happens everywhere. Turning a blind eye and saying "I dont wanna see this" does nothing. Staying to be a part of something you love, be it racing, trail riding, polo, jumpers--Staying and making a difference in the industry speaks louder than walking away and washing your hands.

People need to put their money where thier mouth is. If you enjoy horses, but hate the abuses they may suffer, do something simple!"





I do- I have personally bought or adopted 3 ottbs from the track and I have encouraged other people to do the same. (Of course, people that I thought would be good, capable homes.) And I have donated to a few rescue organizations. I will continue to do this. I think it is wonderful that you are so dedicated to CANTER. I wish every fan/owner cared as much as you do.

But saving a few horses is not enough for ME to feel good about my involvement in the sport. It comes down to emotions. When you are watching the race cheering like crazy and suddenly in front of you, you see the head bobbing and stumbling, then the horse goes down, and then a few seconds later gets back up or tries to, with its lower leg swinging. The van comes and it hobbles in and that is the end.

Watching this leaves me with a profound sadness that is impossible to describe in words. I used to be able to take this scene along with my love of the animal and all the fun, excitement and beauty of racing. Now it has just weighed too heavily on me over the years. It is not good for my spirit. It doesnt uplift me to say, "Well, at least this horse isn't being neglected in someone's back yard or being lunged into a coma for Little A-circuit Susie." I no longer want to be personally involved in the sport and I am losing my desire to even watch. But honestly I don't think I can lose interest completely because it has been such a big part of my life for 20 years.

*spring*
May. 26, 2002, 11:54 AM
Wow, great topic! I can't post now as I'm heading out, but plan to later. Just wanted to add that, we have to keep in mind what the topic is. It's how do you deal with the 'dark side' of horseracing and keep on enjoying/loving it. It's obvious that every dicipline has it's bad people that give the sport a bad name ect, but the focus of this topic is the horse racing industry, right?

- To Ride A Horse Is To Borrow Freedom -

FairWeather
May. 26, 2002, 03:04 PM
I understand where you are coming from. Point blank it is Unescapably difficult to deal with those scenes. I lost one in December that I had agreed to purchase. His last race and he took a wrong step and had to be destroyed. It was devastating to me and I had a very hard time setting foot back on that track. Its completely understandable to have to step back and mend the ache in your heart from such instances.
I hope you know I wasnt pointing the second part of my post at you, it was more of a "you" in general...I should have clarified that.

I really really enjoy going to the track and seeing all the care that goes into these animals...For me, this is what heals my heart. It may not be enough one day, but for now It keeps me going strong.

I was walking down the shedrow yesterday and came upon an exercise rider/jock playing with one of his favorites. I tried to take a candid shot of the snuggle session, but he looked around and caught me just as I snapped the picture. It still warms me just a little to see it.

Always,
FairWeather
"Just call me mint jelly cuz i'm on the lamb!--Grandpa
http://www.fairweather-farm.com

Showpony
May. 26, 2002, 06:47 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by saratoga:







But saving a few horses is not enough for ME to feel good about my involvement in the sport. It comes down to emotions. When you are watching the race cheering like crazy and suddenly in front of you, you see the head bobbing and stumbling, then the horse goes down, and then a few seconds later gets back up or tries to, with its lower leg swinging. The van comes and it hobbles in and that is the end.

Watching this leaves me with a profound sadness that is impossible to describe in words. I used to be able to take this scene along with my love of the animal and all the fun, excitement and beauty of racing. Now it has just weighed too heavily on me over the years. It is not good for my spirit. It doesnt uplift me to say, "Well, at least this horse isn't being neglected in someone's back yard or being lunged into a coma for Little A-circuit Susie." I no longer want to be personally involved in the sport and I am losing my desire to even watch. But honestly I don't think I can lose interest completely because it has been such a big part of my life for 20 years.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I feel the same way!

Anne
May. 26, 2002, 07:51 PM
Flash, Hallie, et al have made excellent points on this thread.

In my experience I have seen plenty of racehorses that get exceptional quality care and owners and trainers that genuinely care about their charges. Part of that is probably economics: racing TBs simply have more potential for monetary gain.

However, I've seen this kind of care both at the very top and the very bottom of the racing game. A yearling filly by a VERY expensive sire broke her humerous in a pasture accident. Even knowing that it was a bad injury and that she could never race, the filly's owners opted to pay for surgery and rehab knowing that they would have a pasture sound broodmare at best.

At the other end, how about a $10,000 claimer with her own goat (who traveled cross country to the vet's with her)? How about the unfamous horse from unfamous connections who came along with a large Coleman full of carrots and peppermints?

And how about our own LordHelpus, who searched desperately for one of the stakes-winning horses her family bred and bought him out of the claiming ranks to retire him?

The people involved in racing are no worse than horse people in any discipline and they may be a far sight better than some. It is NOT an excuse to say that all disciplines have their problems. We are merely pointing out that if racing makes you heartsick, all equestrian sports probably would, if you consider them equally.

FairWeather
May. 27, 2002, 04:49 AM
Thats exactly what I was trying to say...thank you /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Always,
FairWeather
"Just call me mint jelly cuz i'm on the lamb!--Grandpa
http://www.fairweather-farm.com

saratoga
May. 27, 2002, 08:21 AM
Showpony...thanks /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Its reassuring to know that someone feels the same way.

Fairweather..that picture is very adorable. That is horrible about the horse you were planning to buy. I've had a similar situation happen to me.

Anne...yes, it is possible that I would not like to be involved in other equestrian sports at their highest level, whether is the A-circuit hunters, 4 star 3 day eventing, Grand Prix show jumping or whatever. Obviously, at those levels, the horses are putting forth great physical effort, increasing the chances of injuries, and the people are ultra-competitive and driven by money, which could lead to practices that are not in the best interest of the horse. But I do not have the desire to go there. I feel good about what I see at the horse trials, schooling shows and competitive trail rides that I go to and thats what counts for ME.

[This message was edited by saratoga on May. 27, 2002 at 11:31 AM.]

ahf
May. 27, 2002, 12:19 PM
I think everyone who has contributed to this discussion deserves a very hearty pat on the back.

I have been watching this very good thread with interest. Every one of you have managed to keep the dialog thoughtful and sympathic - despite deeply held convictions. You may have diverging views, but have treated each other with respect and still managed to get your collective points across.

My hat is off to all of you.

Flash44
May. 28, 2002, 05:31 AM
The trail riding organization in my area is half people who enjoy a nice day out with their horses and half "Hell on Hooves" nonstop galloping over/through anything all day on their poor horses who only get out once or twice a week. Even at my local h/j organization, I see some horses/ponies doing every single division they are eligible for, even if the poor horse goes in 15-20 classes! My horse (being leased out)is limited to 6 classes a day (no higher than 3') and the rider offers water frequently and gets off between classes.

I think it is more of a personal issue than a discipline issue - some people treat horses right, some don't. And even though you can teach and educate people, you can't make them care.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

Flashy Gray
May. 28, 2002, 08:31 AM
and one that I have been contemplating after my lovely lovely lovely weekend in Lexington, KY. I am a life-long h/jer, now in my early 30's, and I love racing.

I love to go to the track, I still get serious goosebumps whether I am at a big race, such as Breeder's Cup, or watching some claimers at Charles Town. TB racing is one of the ultimate thrills in sport and every race is different, a real drama unto itself.

I agree with Linny and Flash44 - the racing industry is so highly regulated that there is not much room for cruelty and abuse (although it surely goes on as it does in any horse sport).

Perhaps the issue is that racing is an INDUSTY, a serious BUSINESS, and this is what is a bit hard to take - especially for us folks whose involvement with horses is strictly for pleasure. Racehorses are valuable commodities, and there is huge money involved, and sometimes there is not a lot of room for sentimentality in such a big business. And that's not for everyone.

I do understand Saratoga's ambivilence - I think that it is very hard to have a true passion for horses and translate that into working in such a tough industry as racing 24/7. Not impossible, but very hard.

I groomed for 2 well-known jumper riders for a couple of years, and while it was a valuable experience that I will never forget, it did start to bug me a little that my job was to do anything and everything to ensure that those horses kept on showing week after week.

The folks I worked for had well-earned excellent reputations and I never saw anything illegal but the thought would cross my mind as I was whirlpooling/poulticing/wrapping the 6 year old preliminary jumper with the magnets on his body and the accupuncture needles in his neck and the massage therapist and the appointments for joint injections and the high-tech diet/supplement regime and the limited turnout and the travelling ... why can't this guy just be out in a field like a real horse???!!!

Sorry about the slightly OT ramblings, but I guess my conclusion is that it's tough for animal LOVERS to be in the animal BUSINESS. And I still love racing. See yall at the Belmont!

poltroon
May. 28, 2002, 12:28 PM
I too used to really love watching TB racing. Now I am more ambivalent... I haven't even watched the Derby in several years. Honestly it's less about the breakdowns, and perhaps more that I haven't felt a strong connection/excitement to a racehorse in some time.

My last favorite, Easy Goer, died not on the track but just loafing about the farm.

Horse racing is really the most natural of all the horse sports. The horses love to run. The basic idea of the sport is not cruel or harsh.

Some of it is just getting older and more reflective, I think. I am much more sensitive to a lot of practices than I was as a child.

On the Farm
May. 28, 2002, 07:03 PM
From my perspective as both a racing fan and worker in the industry, I think my point of reason is that injuring horses is not the intent of the sport. Injuries certainly do happen, but I have yet to come across any horseman, owner, or fan who wishes for any catastrophic event to occur in the course of training or racing. For the past six years, the horses of my current outfit have combined to make anywhere from forty-five to 100 annual starts, and in that time we've lost only one horse to a fatal breakdown. In the same period we've lost two horses to EPM, one to an intestinal infection, and one to an unknown neuro-muscular failure.

I really don't mind if someone chooses to not like racing (personally I can't stand slow-pitch softball,) but I only ask that the critic give racing a fair shake in their reasoning. One item Saratoga mentioned that I would like to take strong exception to is the notion that good people are a minority in the racing industry. I personally think that the opposite is true. Whether they are in the Turf Club or on the backstretch,I can't even begin to name all of the good, kind, and generous people that I've come across in racing. For someone to cast these very same people as "bad" only leads me to be a bit suspicious about some of the claims being made.

Showpony
May. 28, 2002, 08:19 PM
As in all disiplines there are "bad" people. There are bad people in showing, eventing, racing, etc. who care more about winning than the horses well being or the rules. Of course not all people are like that, most aren't(I hope).

saratoga
May. 28, 2002, 08:36 PM
On the Farm- To clarify my comment that "good people in the racing world are the minority"

I don't mean that most people in horse racing are evil people who hate horses and mistreat them. I know that most people who are around the horses daily like horses, otherwise they probably would not be there. I just don't see a lot of responsibility for them once they are no longer useful. At the upper echelon of the sport many of the owners are very wealthy people who don't care about their horses as individuals. When I worked for top class barns in NY, we NEVER saw owners come by to see their horses. (I KNOW there are exceptions though, I am not saying that every owner is like that!!) The horses are an investment. Just as an example, I followed (4) 2 y.o.'s that I picked at random in an allowance at Saratoga in '98. These were horses who were trained by the top trainers and had the best connections- they had limitless futures. Three of them are running poorly in bottom of the barrel claimers now- 2 at Suffolk and 1 at Charles Town. What will happen to them? Those owners have the financial means to support those horses until they can be adopted or even keep them for life if need be.

At the bottom levels, many trainers and most of the other backstretch people are living in desperate poverty. Many are homeless, living in tack rooms. I have seen situations where they have to race the horse to try to get money for food. They are truly struggling to survive and can't really keep the best interests of the horse as the #1 priority.

And I feel that if people had the best interests of the horse in mind that they would not be giving all of the bute, steroids, cortisone injections, Lasix, and all other drugs illegal and legal. Some trainers at all levels absolutely run horses with known pre-existing injuries. Vets are mainly there to treat injuries and dole out drugs that the trainer requests. They do not do thorough exams on a regular basis and they do not know the condition of every horse in every race.

OK, I'm getting tired and I am rambling on. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. These are MY observations based on what I have seen since I came into the racing world with complete innocence and wide open eyes. I am definitely not accusing everyone in the industry of being bad. If I thought that everyone was horrible, I never would have kept up involvement with racing for as long as I have. And yes, from what I have heard, similar stuff goes on in other sports- but this is racing I am talking about, not some other area that I know nothing about.

As an aside, has anyone read The Backyard Racehorse? Its been several years since I read it, but I think that the author offered great ideas about training your horses yourself and staying away from alot of the crap that goes on at the track.

[This message was edited by saratoga on May. 28, 2002 at 11:50 PM.]

Flash44
May. 29, 2002, 07:13 AM
OMG, the Backyard Racehorse? Sure, if you want to break your horses with Mr. Bluejeans, a pair of stuffed jeans tied to the horse's back instead of a real rider!

And what is more sensible than racing a horse multiple times to get it fit?

People in Appalachia and 3rd world countries live in desperate poverty, not racetrack people.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

saratoga
May. 29, 2002, 12:44 PM
Flash44, I don't remember anything about Mr. Bluejeans! I actually don't remember much detail at all about the book. I read it about 6 or 7 years ago. I seem to remember the main point was that ordinary horse people could race their horse, just as they would start jumping or doing dressage or anything else. It sounded like a good idea to try to get people involved and change the image of the sport. I know that she emphasized staying away from drugs and only racing sound horses.

Have you ever been to the backside of a track and seen the grooms and hotwalkers? Do you think that most of these people have homes and are living comfortably? At the lower level tracks, many of the trainers are even living like this. Once a week, we used to bring in a big pot of soup or something for the workers and we also donated a few mattresses and heaters for the tack rooms here at our local track.

NMS
May. 29, 2002, 01:29 PM
Greetings to fellow CANTER volunteers and supporters...just wanted to add a few comments and toot our horn here in Ohio a bit...

Racing is a business, and as in all businesses there is the good, and there is the bad. But what we have found here is that sometimes good people make bad choices when there is no alternative. When we started CANTER here there were few alternatives for a horse at the bottom of his/her racing career. We opened the CANTER program last year to offer a better alternative with these retiring horses, and here are the results:

From April of 2001 to May of 2002...over 200 horses found new homes from the website, and 75 have come to us through our foster care and horse welfare network. These are horses that would have been at risk of going to an auction.

One great story I can tell of many...when we first started a year ago one man took 17 horses to the Sugar Creek auction where the killer buyers frequent. He has taken none this year, and has even donated a perfectly sound horse to our program. In fact, I am sure he would NOT take any to the auction ever again, as we have provided a better alternative.

My point...get involved if you do not like something, change it, and it will change your own life as well. When we started CANTER up here at Thistledown (and we'll be doing Beulah in the fall) we knew NO ONE. We were just a few people trying to change things, and now we have a network of alternatives that we can put into action in a split second if need be to help a horse.

So there it is Saratoga, my answer to your question..."How can you love horses and still love racing?" By being part of a program that respects and loves the Thoroughbred enough to spend time trying to make a difference, horse by horse. And remembering that without racing there would be no Thoroughbreds, and I would not know the joy of owning one.

Showpony
May. 29, 2002, 07:41 PM
Two things that surprised me when starting with racehorses where
1) breaking yearlings, I thought for sure I misunderstood. Yearlings seem like such babies to me.
2)the way vets would just do what the trainers asked..so and so needs his hocks injected, I need a bottle of bute ect. and the vets would do it without questioning. I was used to the vet telling ME what to do, not someone telling them what to do. (Not suggesting here that they would do anything that "to them" was illegal or unethical)

I have also seen nice horses fall threw the ranks.

But on a better note, there is an owner who has given us sound horses who probably could make it at the cheap tracks but he wants us to find them good homes. He doesn't expect a penny, his only request is that they don't race and they don't go for dog food or to a "bad" sale. They care. There are decent people out there. It's the bad ones that get all the attention!

Unfortunately, I have also had an owner, not ours or one we have talked to sence, who described his horses as units, and when a unit wasn't producing....(picture a man sliding his finger across his throat). Every once in a while they would "clean house" and take a load of horses to "the sale".

[This message was edited by showpony on May. 29, 2002 at 10:53 PM.]

Flash44
May. 30, 2002, 05:47 AM
Saratoga, I worked on the track for 10 yrs in MD, FL, NY and KY, so I am vaguely familiar with what goes on there. I worked for good trainers, and they took great care of the horses. Many grooms live on the track becuase of the seasonal migrations, and they seemed to be pretty good at making a home in the cinderblock rooms they unfolded their cots in. I frequently took carless barn help to the grocery store, mall, etc. Some of the MD workers who stay in MD year round have no where else to live. They would be in a homeless shelter or on the street if they did not have a job as a groom or hotwalker. I would not choose to live there, but for some, it's a much better alternative to the streets. One of the project that seems to always be in the works at Laurel is to build a nicer bunkhouse for the residents. Maybe similar to the one at Keeneland, where you have a front desk and have to check in, etc.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

Showpony
May. 30, 2002, 09:04 AM
Free housing, decent salaries, and health clinics. Some chose to live at the track and for others they would be much worse off if it wasn't for the track.

On the Farm
May. 30, 2002, 02:38 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by showpony:
Free housing, decent salaries, and health clinics. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Agreed. Besides housing and the backstretch clinic, NYRA offers dental care, a pension plan for backstretch workers, and has recently broken ground for a daycare center (www.belmontchildcare.com. (http://www.belmontchildcare.com.)) Also Nick Karas, the backstretch recreation director, is one of the very best people in racing. Besides running the onsite recreation programs, Mr. Karas schedules activities such as deep-sea fishing trips, bus trips to Rockerfeller Center during the December holidays, and whitewater rafting trips when racing moves to Saratoga.

Another valuable program at the NYRA tracks is the Backstretch Employees Assistance Team (or B.E.A.T.) which provides counseling and other services for workers experiencing drug, alcohol, or financial problems.

[This message was edited by On the Farm on May. 30, 2002 at 06:50 PM.]

[This message was edited by On the Farm on May. 30, 2002 at 06:51 PM.]

JumpJockey
Jun. 10, 2002, 09:18 PM
I'm with you, Saratoga. When my brother and I went out to the races recently to see an exhibition held during a night of Quarter Horse, TB, and Arabian racing, I was dismayed to see every single Quarter horse in a race was on both Lasix and bute. When I lived in the UK with my British husband, as far as I remember, no performance-enhancing drugs were allowed in British racing, is that the case or am I incorrect, British posters? Also, I feel jockeys are penalized more in the UK for excessive use of the whip. I applaud them for that, but I still can't watch events like the Grand National after seeing horses come to their demise trying their hearts out. My British mother-in-law bets on it every year, and I refused to take her wager to the betting shop for her!

I owned an OTT TB who was the best horse a rider like me could have asked for -- calm and a schoolmaster -- I learned to jump on him -- had a canter like a rocking horse. If his Jockey Club papers had not listed him winning two minor races at a California track, you'd never know he had started out that way. Sure, everyone has seen and heard abuse in all phases of horse-related sports -- it's all unacceptable.

[This message was edited by JumpJockey on Jun. 11, 2002 at 01:00 AM.]

Daydream Believer
Jun. 11, 2002, 09:21 AM
I have a big problem with steeplechasing. I'll never go to another steeplechase meet again. Everytime I go, some poor horse flips and crashes and ends up put down... /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

I think racing TB's would hold up a lot better physically if there was no such thing as 2 year old racing. I realize that 2 yr old racing will probably never be banned as there is so much money and cost in raising TB's for the track that it would put everyone out of business. Seems like it always comes back to money doesn't it?

Some of the worst horse abuse I've ever seen was at a quarter horse barn. These poor animals had their tails injected so they couldn't even swish them to show how unhappy they were. Babies were started in twisted wire snaffles and had their heads tied down to their chests. Horses were lunged forever to wear them out. I'm a dressage rider/lower level eventer and was just horrified with what I saw there. I did my best to show them that you could accomplish the same responses (i.e. lowering a head) without draw reins and sharp bits, but I really don't think they got it. What I was showing them required learning how to ride and having kind hands that the horse could trust not to mention it wasn't as fast as tie downs and twisted wire bits. I realize that all disciplines have their dark sides and folks that are abusive, but until that experience, I couldn't even imagine how low some people will go to win a ribbon at a pleasure show!

Sorry for the venting, but I had to say that. As for racing, it's a lot like eventing. Good race horses want to be race horses...that's what they are and what their job is and they know it. Sometimes they get hurt in the line of duty and it's very sad to see that. Three upper level event horses died this year so far in freak accidents too so does that make all eventers bad? I hope no one feels that way. I know two of the three riders who lost horses, and they are good people who were doing their best and took excellent care of their horses. $hit happens. It's really pretty unusual for that many horses to be seriosly injured killed in eventing, so this has been a freaky year so far. Honestly, I think I've seen more horses badly injured while turned out in the pasture by stupid accidents than anything else. The leadership and riders in our sport have and continue to focus on how to make our sport safer for the horses and riders. A lot of changes have been made and more are to come. I think the racing industry should be thinking the same way if they aren't already. What can be done to reduce injuries and catastrophic breakdowns? Changes in shoes, racing surfaces, training methods, more restrictions on substances such as steriods? Just some thoughts...

I also think the focus needs to shift from pointing fingers at race track folks many of whom care very deeply about their horses to helping to find homes for the ex racers who won't go on to breeding farms. I think CANTER is a great organization and am delighted to see what they are doing! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Sorry for the long post, but I've been watching this thread for a while and finally decided to say something. Let me duck before you all start throwing sticks! /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

CoolMeadows
Jun. 11, 2002, 10:17 AM
Your story and that picture made me cry. I'm looking at a OTT horse right now, who went back to the track this morning. I checked out his history, and it looks like he started in $75,000, won some, went to $30,000 claimers, and on down and now is running in $3500 claimers. He has won $51,000 for his owners and doesn't want to do it anymore. LINNY - this is the horse I posted about on H/J - you must have looked up a horse with a similar name?

I'm trying desperately to get my (limited) funds together because I think there's something special about this one. I don't want him to race anymore. He came off the track 2 weeks ago with sore ankles, sore hocks and a sore back and because he's been sound-ish for 4 days now, they want to run him immediately. He's a tough boy, and has clean X-rays amazingly.

This is a scenario that's setting the horse up for a breakdown. I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful, ethical trainers. They may have a horse breakdown through bad luck. But the trainers who keep pounding these horses to get every last cent out of them are just setting the horses up for a disaster.

JumpJockey
Jun. 11, 2002, 10:54 PM
I read a statistic in an equine magazine a few years ago that 90% of racing TBs had ulcers. Surely that is an unreasonable condition in a great many horses.

Flash44
Jun. 12, 2002, 05:53 AM
Yup, they do. And if show people bothered to check their horses, I'm sure they would find a pretty high percentage of their horses have ulcers too, at least the ones that are on the road a lot.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...

buryinghill1
Jun. 13, 2002, 08:08 AM
I thought of this thread yesterday... Cute grey horse was euthanized after an agonizing run down the stretch. I thought he was tying up as he was standing ok (not quite on all four, but nothing appeared broken).
It was a race for "older" horses (most that should have gone to other careers years ago). /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Counting down those 180 days

Zaboobafoo
Jun. 14, 2002, 08:17 AM
Anytime a passion, a love becomes your business, things get strange.

That was a big reason I quit showing and training after 11 years on the A-circuit. Nothing was abusive or evil, but the horses became more like well-oiled machines and less like friends to me.

I do love racing. The heart of those animals is amazing. You can see them WANT it and TRY for it. And they are so beautiful, everyone of them.

I love watching show jumping, too. My best friend and I call ourselves Grand Prix groupies. We go to every show we can!!

I always look at it as an unhappy horse will not put their heart into it, they will not be the one who fights for the win, be it in any disipline. So this top competitors that we are watching are treated in the best possible ways.

Tragedies happen. Its heartbreaking when it does. My best friend cried as Charismatic stood with the jockey holding his leg. And we do hide ourselves from the lower levels where the worst stuff prolly happens...

So to stop my totally senseless rambling, its not a perfect world. But I find nothing wrong with supporting the highest levels of competion and an industry which allows all people, not just the horse crazy kids, to see the wonder and beauty of the animals we love so much.

*In Your Dreams*
Jun. 15, 2002, 10:53 AM
My event horse absoulutly loves to jump, and go cross country. He has never givin me a "evil moment" while on course. I have seen horses who hate to jump and do dressage, but these horses do not win, and usually are switched over to do something else.
On the other hand, race horses do have a passion for winning also, but you can also see them whipped, in chains before the race, and even drugged up. Usually even if the horse has no talent for running, the owner will keep pushing and pushing until it breaks down. In the showing world, it is not usually like this. All horse sports are cruel if you look at the way the horses used to live, so I am not bashing anyone. There are always two sides of the story.

**~~Andrea,and In Your Dreams~~**
Follow Your Dreams...
Except the one where your in school in your underwear.

"Horse Sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people." - W.C Feilds

"Why does it take a lifetime to learn to live a lifetime?"

Opinions are like buttholes, we all have one and they all stink.

Proud Member Of The Abercrombie and Fitch Clique, aka the IGETCRABBY and B*tch Clique.

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Duffy
Jun. 15, 2002, 01:08 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Flash44:
Yup, they do. And if show people bothered to check their horses, I'm sure they would find a pretty high percentage of their horses have ulcers too, at least the ones that are on the road a lot.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor don't bring me down...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Our barn was part of a recent study on ulcers in show horses by a vet outside of Charlottesville. I allowed Gramento to be part of the study. Only one horse out of, I believe, six participants in our barn had ulcers, (not Gramento, thank goodness). The scoping was terribly interesting and the vet is fantastic. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

The one horse who was positive for ulcers HAD been on the circuit for quite some time and had come to our barn about a year ago.

free
Jun. 18, 2002, 09:37 PM
In my opinion you are all correct. As in EVERY part of life mistakes are made and there is good and evil to be encountered. (Sometimes I feel guilty when I realize that our animals are being treated better than a lot of children!) I can honestly say that the majority of horse people that I have encountered really put the welfare of their horses first. But when we see something that can be remedied, then it is our obligation to step forward and do something positive. This is more difficult than turning our backs, but maybe it is our obligation if we really love horses like we say. CANTER (and other groups like it) seem to be the best thing that have come along. Saying that, would Fairweather please suggest how we can help?

FairWeather
Jun. 19, 2002, 07:37 AM
Donate! Money, Time, services! Anything! Pick a group in your area, (or not) and just give what you can. I find the thing I need most is time--anybody got a few extra hours handy?

"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution."--Homer
FairWeather (http://www.fairweather.bizland.com)
CANTER West Virginia (http://www.fairweather.bizland.com/salehorse.htm)

free
Jun. 19, 2002, 11:30 AM
Fairweather......I e-mailed you but thought you might like to post on here for everyone to see some of your answers. How much time is average and when and where are we talking about and in what capacity? (Like what jobs/duties, etc.?)
This sounds like a very worthy cause. Thank you.

FairWeather
Jun. 20, 2002, 06:02 AM
But I can answer for myself /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
What CANTER West Virginia always needs are volunteers who can commit at least one Saturday morning a month to visit the track.
Here's basically how everything goes.
With a new volunteer, I meet up with them around 8:30 or 9:00 (I can be flexible /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ) outside of the track area. We head to the backside and I bring folks up to the track to watch horses work and so I can show people who are unfamiliar with the track what actually goes on 'behind the scenes'.
Then I head up to the grandstand and introduce everyone to the race Stewards (AKA Johnny Law) and get some day passes so you are allowed on the backside from the security office.
After that, I start my 'rounds'. Some days I have set appointments with trainers to take listings for horses for sale, but most days I go from barn to barn visiting with trainers who have listings with me and ask them how things are going, if they've sold anything, or if they'd like to change anything about their listings. (This is usually the time they tell me about some of the stranger calls and questions they get--the most recent concern being 'why is the horse wet in the picture? /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif )

Usually I dont make it very far before I'm getting hit on all sides by people who have horses for sale. On slower days I wander over to barns I havent been in and make new introductions. ON a good day, I can make it through approximately 4 or 5 barns. Charles Town (along with the training track Shenandoah) has over 40 barns. Whichs adds up to....ta da!...I need volunteers to hit these barns with me! I go almost every single weekend and have yet to get through every single barn.
Its very easy and everyone is always very nice. I have met some GREAT folks, and have learned a lot about TB's (though resisting taking them home is a bit difficult!)
After a volunteer has come up to the track at least twice, and is comfortable with racetrack protocol, I will send them out to visit with trainers (usually the ones who I have introduced them to previously) to take down new listings and get pictures. We are typically there until noonish.
So, thats MY greatest need. As for other TB groups I know they can use help in the same way as well as farm help for rescues, fostering horses, and of course $$$$$$$!

Think of it this way. If eight people donated $50, that can buy a horse on his way to slaughter. (CANTER only buys a horse in danger of going to slaughter--and wont spend more than $500)
A little bit literally goes a long way!
TRF and Exceller are also great causes and could use the same type of support.
Anyhow, let me know if you would be interested! I promise if you like thoroughbreds, you'd love doing this. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution."--Homer
FairWeather (http://www.fairweather.bizland.com)
CANTER West Virginia (http://www.fairweather.bizland.com/salehorse.htm)