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No place for butchers' little helpers

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  • No place for butchers' little helpers

    Please don't go into a raging slaughter 'debate', but please take a close read at this article

    Published in Sat's DRF

    From Daily Racing Form

    No place for butchers' little helpers
    By JAY HOVDEY

    DEL MAR, Calif. - Richard Fields is just your average guy from the Bronx
    who wears a cowboy hat through the rainy streets of Manhattan, owns a
    casino and a racetrack, and spends as much time as possible with the
    horses on his ranch in Wyoming.

    He is also the first racetrack owner to go out of his way to endorse a
    zero-tolerance policy when it comes to horse slaughter commerce in his
    own backyard, while at the same time putting teeth in a house rule that
    would ban any trainer caught sending a used-up racehorse to the butchers.

    Granted, the Fields racing empire is made up entirely of Suffolk Downs,
    the struggling Boston track in which he purchased a controlling interest
    in April of 2007. Now in his second season as majority owner, Fields has
    had a positive response from local racing fans, especially for reviving
    the moribund Massachusetts Handicap with a $500,000 purse and
    repositioning it as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

    It was Fields's announcement on the slaughter issue, though, that caught
    the media's eye last month, especially in an atmosphere of heightened
    sensitivities toward racehorse welfare triggered by the death of Eight
    Belles in the Kentucky Derby and the graphic HBO RealSports report about
    a Thoroughbred going directly from the Mountaineer Racetrack backstretch
    to a Canadian slaughterhouse.

    "Just because their career is done, doesn't mean you're gonna barbecue
    them," Fields said last week. "When was the last time we barbecued
    somebody out of the NFL?

    "Historically, I have a philosophy of not wanting to give up on these
    animals. I've always loved horses. I can't explain it, but I grew up
    wanting to be a cowboy. Recently we've taken three racehorses from the
    track to the ranch, so we've been able to watch that transition. One
    went on a trail ride up the mountain to about 9,000 feet. Another is in
    training as a hunter-jumper. They're happy.

    "What I really wanted to do was send a signal to the industry," Fields
    added. "The fellows running the backstretch know the shippers who
    present a problem, and they're banned from the track. All I did was to
    say, listen, guys, if you think there's a new ownership who doesn't care
    about this, you're wrong. There was already a policy of zero tolerance.
    I just took it to another level."

    You would think opposing the sale of horses directly from a racetrack to
    slaughter would be about as controversial as coming down on the side of
    Mom and apple pie. It should be a relatively easy position for a
    racetrack management to take, but any penalties would require diligent
    investigation to enforce. Livestock auctions that feed foreign slaughter
    industries continue to flourish, even in states like California where
    the slaughter trade is illegal. Enterprising buyers troll the stables at
    every racetrack, offering trainers and their owners an easy way to
    dispose of outclassed, broken-down claimers while providing enough of a
    cover story to offer deniability all around.

    Even a good-faith donation of a retired racehorse can backfire. Just ask
    Ron Charles, president of Santa Anita Park and chief operating officer
    of Magna Entertainment Corp.

    In the fall of 2006, Charles learned that his former graded stakes
    winner Champion Lodge had been pulled out of a feedlot in Colorado while
    on his way to likely slaughter in a facility still legally operating in
    Illinois. The last Charles had heard of his horse, he'd been donated to
    a high school agriculture program when he could no longer stand training.

    "If he'd been healthier, he would have ended up slaughtered," Charles
    noted. "He was too lame to load, otherwise he would have been on that
    truck. Just an awful thought."

    Champion Lodge was rescued and nursed back to health by a local ranch
    owner Margaret DeSarno, a pre-vet student who somehow scraped together
    the $500 asked by the slaughter shippers. Charles offered to bring the
    horse back to California, but DeSarno exercised her right of ownership
    and has been rewarded with a much healthier and very grateful Champion
    Lodge.

    "She sent me a picture of him not long ago," Charles said. "He's a very
    lucky horse, and he looks great."

    Luck, though, should have nothing to do with it, and Charles knows it.
    He also knows that the many private, nonprofit rescue and retirement
    organizations can handle only a small part of the retirement population,
    and that racetracks, with their financial and political clout, should
    lead the way in finding a solution.

    "For years and years we have been troubled by this," Charles said. "And
    at first, it seems overwhelming. But the more we talked about it, the
    more you understand that it's the right thing to do. It's a matter of
    working out how to do a better job on a larger, more organized scale."

    For his part, Fields is already searching for his own institutional
    solution to the retirement issue.

    "When you get involved in horse racing, and you realize there might be a
    tendency to send horses off to slaughter, you've got to do something,"
    he said. "We've looked at purchasing or leasing a large farm, to do it
    on a New England basis. My position is, you've got to find them a home.
    That may be easier said than done. But you've got to try."
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Many of you remember the story of Champion Lodge. It unfolded right here on COTH.

    Here is the original article about Champion Lodge that was published in the DRF. Since this happened to a horse that made a large amount of money for Ron Charles, he knows first hand the dangers and realities of slaughter. I hope he considers inspiring Magna to follow Suffolk's lead.

    http://www.coloradotbrescue.org/file...RF_article.doc

    It was discovered after this article was written that the horse had severely foundered (as well as suffering from acute renal failure). He was in a very precarious state when Charles offered to ship him thousands of miles away. We followed the vet's advice and continued with the current plan of (intense) treatment. It worked. Champion Lodge (knock on wood) is doing very well. He still visits the vet every few weeks and is re-evaluated. Sadly, he has suffered life-long consequences as a result of being in the slaughter pipeline.

    He has been sponsored by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. His bail from the killer's was donated from the Exceller Fund. SO MANY horse lovers helped out in various ways. Some sent treats. Others connected us with the nation's top veterinarian's for a second opinion (which literally saved the horse's life), and so many other help support his ongoing expenses. Shortly after we found Champion Lodge, CO TB Rescue was incoporated.

    For those who have met "Champ", they know that he is now a vibrant, energetic, delightful animal that embraces every day.

    Champion Lodge at Santa Anita, April 2006, just before being donated to the riding program
    http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...SantaAnita.jpg

    Champion Lodge at the feedlot in September 2006, only ID's by his tatto (showing that he was imported!). He was extremely lame and barely able to walk.: http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...e/DSC02788.jpg

    At the vet school, where he stayed for 2 weeks: http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...onLodge004.jpg

    December 2006: http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...horses043a.jpg

    Taken this summer: http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...ete/Champ1.jpg
    http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...pionLodgea.jpg

    Margaret
    Last edited by FatPalomino; Jul. 26, 2008, 10:42 AM. Reason: typos!

    Comment


    • #3
      In reality, there isn't any fair way to admister such a cock-eyed notion. All that's needed to get around it is a couple more middlemen, yet any trainer who deals in good faith with the middlemen will end up getting the rap.

      Using Champion Lodge as an example is a little wierd. If you are condeming one practice by touting another, you should maybe find an example that actually WORKED as intended. Instead, this example shows exactly why the ban will not serve the purpose it purports to serve.

      I'm inclined to think it's all either a publicity stunt or some damn fool thinking he knows the way the world should behave and has the temperament to think he has a right to make the world behave that way.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well done for rehabillitating this beautiful horse, Fat Palomino. But what in God's name happened to him in that "riding program"??????

        Comment


        • #5
          Kudos to Mr Fields for taking a stand. And also to you for the time, effort and money spent turning Champion Lodge around.

          G & B- Well bless your heart.


          By the way, that last pic of CL is lovely!

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't think anyone thinks that no trainers at Suffolk Downs will work with slaughter buyers, or that no horses who race there will end up at slaughter. However, it is a good step in the right direction in my opinion. Plus, it says he looking into setting up his own place for retired racehorses. He sounds like someone who really cares about the horses.

            Champion Lodge is a stunning horse, and he looks great.
            exploring the relationship between horse and human

            Comment


            • #7
              ---" No place for butchers' little helpers

              --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              Please don't go into a raging slaughter 'debate', but please take a close read at this article"---


              Ever crossed your mind that using such title for your thread and then asking people not to comment on it doesn't make much sense?

              Such inciendiary wording is worthy of the animal rights sites, not COTH.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                ---" No place for butchers' little helpers

                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                Please don't go into a raging slaughter 'debate', but please take a close read at this article"---


                Ever crossed your mind that using such title for your thread and then asking people not to comment on it doesn't make much sense?

                Such inciendiary wording is worthy of the animal rights sites, not COTH.
                Or it's worthy of the Daily Racing Forum.

                I think Suffolk Down's decision a step in the right direction. Better than nothing. Much better than doing nothing while criticizing people on a bulletin board :O

                It comes down to taking responsibility for your actions. Often said, rarely accomplished.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by MySparrow View Post
                  Well done for rehabillitating this beautiful horse, Fat Palomino. But what in God's name happened to him in that "riding program"??????
                  Essentially, there was no understanding of where the horse would go when the program was done with him. Here's the original DRF article about the situation.

                  http://www.coloradotbrescue.org/file...RF_article.doc.

                  "Meanwhile, in California, Shulman and Charles are intent to find out how their former stakes horse ended up marked for slaughter. They have been told that a student was given the horse upon graduating from the agricultural program - a regular practice - but after that the plot gets lost. If the student sold the horse to a killer-buyer, California laws were violated. If the horse was sold in good faith to an agent or trainer from out of state who misrepresented the intended use of the horse, there also could be cause for prosecution. "

                  Kudos to Jay Hovdey, again, for asking the difficult questions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FatPalomino View Post
                    Or it's worthy of the Daily Racing Forum.

                    I think Suffolk Down's decision a step in the right direction. Better than nothing. Much better than doing nothing while criticizing people on a bulletin board :O

                    It comes down to taking responsibility for your actions. Often said, rarely accomplished.
                    Oh, ok, So you are just reporting what others said, no thoughts of your own.
                    Still, two wrongs don't make a right.

                    When we were running, our horses came back and we retrained them ourselves and sold them as ranch and fox hunting horses.
                    So did practically all we knew, other than with the very few horses that were mental cases or crippled, VERY FEW.
                    That was, oh, some 30-40 years ago.

                    I doubt that things may have changed that much, other than maybe the market for TB's in other disciplines may not be as large, more competition from other sources.
                    Nice to have efforts to try to shoehorn a few more in today's already very cluttered horse world.
                    Playing musical chairs with those unwanted horses, again.

                    I still wonder why the horse didn't work in the first, seemingly adequate place he put him, as most trainers do?

                    I agree with a previous poster, that for such a story to make sense with what they are trying to say, they should have looked a little longer, if they wanted to make a case of "bad, bad, butcher minions".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      <<Ever crossed your mind that using such title for your thread and then asking people not to comment on it doesn't make much sense?>>

                      That was the DRF's headline, not the OP's.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "But you've got to try"

                        Yes, that is what it will take.. I was really glad to read this article. Thanks for posting it.
                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                        ---
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          LOL I quit taking the article seriously when he compared eating livestock to humans. Ones legal ones not, same old story IMO. If you don't want to eat your livestock or sell them for food then don't, if you do then sell them. Whats the big mystery?
                          Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Another story..........

                            http://www.freewebs.com/horseracingh...storyofgus.htm
                            "Concern for animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

                            Ponies are cool!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for posting that.

                              No, it won't stop a trainer who sells through a broker that in turn sells to killbuyers. BUT it sends a big message to the racing industry (and to the horse community). The days of throwaway horses need to end.
                              Veterinarians for Equine Welfare

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                And it proposes ways to pay for it from within the racing industry. He owns the track and he's willing to pay for it.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by equinelaw View Post
                                  And it proposes ways to pay for it from within the racing industry. He owns the track and he's willing to pay for it.
                                  He also admits it is a pie in the sky idea.
                                  Good to get talk going about him and his track, good to get more talk about what to do with unwanted horses.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                    When we were running, our horses came back and we retrained them ourselves and sold them as ranch and fox hunting horses.
                                    So did practically all we knew, other than with the very few horses that were mental cases or crippled, VERY FEW.
                                    That was, oh, some 30-40 years ago.


                                    I still wonder why the horse didn't work in the first, seemingly adequate place he put him, as most trainers do?
                                    .
                                    Bluey, I wonder if in racing (or actually, as I think about it, in all of horsemanship (please permit the generalization) many equestrians are becoming discipline-centric. By that I mean......you are an all-around equestrian; today it seems that many riders are versed in one branch with limited or no knowledge of other disciplines, skills or avenues.
                                    I admit that I was stunned to meet racing trainers who had never ridden, or had only ridden a few times. Perhaps it is idealistic of me, but IMHO to truly understand what a horse is doing, or what a rider is explaining to you after morning training, that a trainer should have become a competent rider at some point. Theory vs. practical, if you will. Yes, I know that many people can point out excellent trainers who have never sat a horse, but I have a hard time with that. Similarly, ask a dressage or western rider to switch tack and mounts and one might possibly see a lack of ability. Reason I am going through this circuitous discussion is.....perhaps in the past, trainers were more able to see other outlets for their non-runners, and were able to reschool them themselves.

                                    As for Champion Lodge not working out for his re-home....I understand that the school gave him to the young graduate - and as all of us know, it can take only one change in life's direction for a GOOD horse to end up down a dark road.
                                    Dee
                                    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                                    Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique
                                    http://wilddiamondintherough.blogspot.ca/

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                      He also admits it is a pie in the sky idea.
                                      Good to get talk going about him and his track, good to get more talk about what to do with unwanted horses.
                                      "Pie in the Sky" ideas are what dreams are made of. Dreams do come true.
                                      "Concern for animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

                                      Ponies are cool!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by DeeThbd View Post
                                        Bluey, I wonder if in racing (or actually, as I think about it, in all of horsemanship (please permit the generalization) many equestrians are becoming discipline-centric. By that I mean......you are an all-around equestrian; today it seems that many riders are versed in one branch with limited or no knowledge of other disciplines, skills or avenues.
                                        I admit that I was stunned to meet racing trainers who had never ridden, or had only ridden a few times. Perhaps it is idealistic of me, but IMHO to truly understand what a horse is doing, or what a rider is explaining to you after morning training, that a trainer should have become a competent rider at some point. Theory vs. practical, if you will. Yes, I know that many people can point out excellent trainers who have never sat a horse, but I have a hard time with that. Similarly, ask a dressage or western rider to switch tack and mounts and one might possibly see a lack of ability. Reason I am going through this circuitous discussion is.....perhaps in the past, trainers were more able to see other outlets for their non-runners, and were able to reschool them themselves.

                                        As for Champion Lodge not working out for his re-home....I understand that the school gave him to the young graduate - and as all of us know, it can take only one change in life's direction for a GOOD horse to end up down a dark road.
                                        Dee
                                        Could be you are right, because today's people don't grow around horses in all they do in their lives, as previous generations may have.

                                        A race horse trainer doesn't has to know how to ride, because the better trainers are strategists first, that know what they have in a horse as far as ability and where to enter that horse, that is what makes or breaks a trainer.
                                        They are also good leg men, or hire those that are, to keep the horses sound and fit to run.

                                        You don't really need to be a jockey to be a race horse trainer.
                                        Few jockeys become trainers, because it takes a very different set of skills for that.

                                        A similar situation is when you look at succesful builders, that many came to building from other than the trades or architectural schools and still build good houses, even if they can't read plans or use a hammer and saw.
                                        Why? Because what a builder does is to recognize good work and organize good people around the task.
                                        That is what a good race trainer does.

                                        Several generations ago, builders were handymen first, as race horse trainers were used to handle horses themselves all thru their lives.
                                        Not always so today.

                                        Comment

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