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My final straw

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  • My final straw

    My husband and I have been involved with racing for several decades. We’ve both worked with horses at the track, and also in other aspects of the industry. I own an OTTB, and he has part ownership of several horses that are currently racing. We attend the Breeders Cup every year, as well as regular race days at tracks across the country. We understand the ups and downs of the sport, but at the end of the day have a passion for it and love for the horses.

    This year, for the first time, I was hesitant about going to the Breeders Cup. This hasn’t been a good year for Santa Anita, and that made me uneasy. We understand that rare tragedies will happen, whether horses are playing in the field or coming down the stretch. I wanted to believe that with all the scrutiny, every possible precaution would be taken to make the horses as safe as possible today. Maybe they were.

    It was a beautiful day for racing at Santa Anita today. Then came the Breeders Cup Classic. Directly in front of us, we saw Mongolian Groom take several sickening strides due to what was clearly a catastrophic injury. My heart sank and I cursed loudly. Those around us went from wildly cheering to stunned silence. The vet was there immediately, and a swarm of people promptly and efficiently surrounded Mongolian Groom with the privacy screens. I didn’t know whether to be impressed with how well orchestrated the response was, or infuriated that perhaps they were so good at it because they’d had a great deal of practice.

    After seeing the way Mongolian Groom’s leg hung, I knew that he was done. I also think I may be finished with this. It’s getting terribly difficult for me to make excuses for the sport. I don’t know what the answer is, or how we can fix it. Maybe racing isn’t over for good, but I think this may be the end of racing as we know it in Southern California. Are things too broken to be fixed?
    *Absolut Equestrian*

    "The plural of anecdote is not fact...except in the horse industry"

  • #2
    Originally posted by Absolut Equestrian View Post
    My husband and I have been involved with racing for several decades. We’ve both worked with horses at the track, and also in other aspects of the industry. I own an OTTB, and he has part ownership of several horses that are currently racing. We attend the Breeders Cup every year, as well as regular race days at tracks across the country. We understand the ups and downs of the sport, but at the end of the day have a passion for it and love for the horses.

    This year, for the first time, I was hesitant about going to the Breeders Cup. This hasn’t been a good year for Santa Anita, and that made me uneasy. We understand that rare tragedies will happen, whether horses are playing in the field or coming down the stretch. I wanted to believe that with all the scrutiny, every possible precaution would be taken to make the horses as safe as possible today. Maybe they were.

    It was a beautiful day for racing at Santa Anita today. Then came the Breeders Cup Classic. Directly in front of us, we saw Mongolian Groom take several sickening strides due to what was clearly a catastrophic injury. My heart sank and I cursed loudly. Those around us went from wildly cheering to stunned silence. The vet was there immediately, and a swarm of people promptly and efficiently surrounded Mongolian Groom with the privacy screens. I didn’t know whether to be impressed with how well orchestrated the response was, or infuriated that perhaps they were so good at it because they’d had a great deal of practice.

    After seeing the way Mongolian Groom’s leg hung, I knew that he was done. I also think I may be finished with this. It’s getting terribly difficult for me to make excuses for the sport. I don’t know what the answer is, or how we can fix it. Maybe racing isn’t over for good, but I think this may be the end of racing as we know it in Southern California. Are things too broken to be fixed?
    I hope not. Perhaps there is something to be done .

    Oh, I am so sorry. I don't know what to think right now. I've been thinking about the wonderful highs of this Breeder's Cup and now this terrible low , but have come to no conclusion. It will take more time and thought for me to reconcile my feelings.

    I didn't see Mongolian Humor's injury and I don't feel the need to watch the video but I'm so sorry that you witnessed his injury live.

    I have images, forever ingrained in my memory, of catastrophic injuries sustained by horses in pasture accidents. They are horrendous memories and they don't go away.

    Images of racehorses that incurred what proved to be fatal injuries, are clear in my memory as well, although I saw them on TV and not "in person".

    I just wanted to respond to your post. As I mentioned, I will have to give these (my) feelings more thought than I can give right now. It's going to take time.

    I can only imagine your dilemma. Hang in there.

    Comment


    • #3
      Everyone has to draw the line for themselves regardless of what the subject matter is. I can see how a person would say this is it for me after witnessing something like that especially if they aren't a part of the industry directly. I was standing at the gap at Laurel once waiting for the field to race past me so I could walk over for my race and a horse broke his leg clear off right in front of me. I ran out and did my best to tend to the horse until the vet arrived a minute or two later and very much wanted to tell my groom to turn around and put my mare back in the stall. But I knew my horse was sound and ready to race and the odds were very much in our favor that she would make it around safely so I tacked her up and sent her out to do her job.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Absolut Equestrian View Post
        My husband and I have been involved with racing for several decades. We’ve both worked with horses at the track, and also in other aspects of the industry. I own an OTTB, and he has part ownership of several horses that are currently racing. We attend the Breeders Cup every year, as well as regular race days at tracks across the country. We understand the ups and downs of the sport, but at the end of the day have a passion for it and love for the horses.

        This year, for the first time, I was hesitant about going to the Breeders Cup. This hasn’t been a good year for Santa Anita, and that made me uneasy. We understand that rare tragedies will happen, whether horses are playing in the field or coming down the stretch. I wanted to believe that with all the scrutiny, every possible precaution would be taken to make the horses as safe as possible today. Maybe they were.

        It was a beautiful day for racing at Santa Anita today. Then came the Breeders Cup Classic. Directly in front of us, we saw Mongolian Groom take several sickening strides due to what was clearly a catastrophic injury. My heart sank and I cursed loudly. Those around us went from wildly cheering to stunned silence. The vet was there immediately, and a swarm of people promptly and efficiently surrounded Mongolian Groom with the privacy screens. I didn’t know whether to be impressed with how well orchestrated the response was, or infuriated that perhaps they were so good at it because they’d had a great deal of practice.

        After seeing the way Mongolian Groom’s leg hung, I knew that he was done. I also think I may be finished with this. It’s getting terribly difficult for me to make excuses for the sport. I don’t know what the answer is, or how we can fix it. Maybe racing isn’t over for good, but I think this may be the end of racing as we know it in Southern California. Are things too broken to be fixed?
        Let’s throw in the eventing deaths too. At least racing is straightforward, and you are not asking horses to take blind leaps of faith into the unknown.
        "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

        Comment


        • #5
          The ever popular "Yeah but what about _______" defense always works well.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home

          Comment


          • #6
            Everyone has their own line in the sand. Witnessing a catastrophic injury is always heartbreaking and emotional. I can completely understand why that would put you over said line, OP.

            I am scared for the future of horse racing in SoCal. I’m scared for the future of horse racing in every state. I hope this is not the breaking point. But I’m also strangely comforted knowing how hard the organizers worked to try to prevent this. I’m hopeful that all the hard work will be put towards future aligned reform of some of the inconsistencies and problem areas in the sport.
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

            Comment


            • #7
              I’m so sorry you had to witness that live..
              I am very divided on my feelings as well, on one side I’ve been following racing for 9 years (not nearly as long as some people) and have always loved it. I still remember the joy I felt when Pharoah won the Triple Crown. I also know freak accidents happen everywhere, I unfortunately learned that one the hard way when my neighbors 3 year old quarter horse Blaze (who I helped take care of) broke his leg in a pasture accident in July.

              Yet the other half of me isn’t getting nearly as much enjoyment out of racing as I used to. All day yesterday I was nervous when the gates opened and so relived when everyone made it home safely, until the Classic. Since then I’ve felt sick to my stomach and it kinda sapped the joy from the whole day for me. I don’t want to see racing end, but I’m not sure how I will proceed from here with watching it. I’ll have to give it time and think.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree about the line to be drawn which is eminently a personal thing. I walked away from the sport for a couple of years after Go For Wand.

                But the horses brought me back.

                Since then I have also learned that horses and high level equestrian sports are a full package of bad and good. It is impossible to push the boundaries to achieve amazing athleticism without risk. Secretariat wasn't just pulled out of a field to do what he did -- he was drilled on and hard. Zenyatta was pushed on too. These horses became beloved because of their athletic prowess but it is their athleticism that puts them at risk. And don't kid yourselves--they are at risk.

                And that is why eventing is relevant to this discussion. We can keep them in a field somewhere (and hope that they don't open up their shoulder on a tall irrigation sprinkler like a friend's horse did yesterday) and call ourselves their guardians and pet on them and occasional accident notwithstanding, keep them "safe" until they die.

                But then we have to forget about jumping in stadiums, forget about taking solid obstacles at speed and forget about the Belmont Stakes. Because the horse kept as a pet in the field can't do these things. It takes training and training means risk. The very activity means risk. That's just reality.

                But the dividing line is everyone's to draw.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Countrygirl18 View Post
                  I’m so sorry you had to witness that live..
                  I am very divided on my feelings as well, on one side I’ve been following racing for 9 years (not nearly as long as some people) and have always loved it. I still remember the joy I felt when Pharoah won the Triple Crown. I also know freak accidents happen everywhere, I unfortunately learned that one the hard way when my neighbors 3 year old quarter horse Blaze (who I helped take care of) broke his leg in a pasture accident in July.

                  Yet the other half of me isn’t getting nearly as much enjoyment out of racing as I used to. All day yesterday I was nervous when the gates opened and so relived when everyone made it home safely, until the Classic. Since then I’ve felt sick to my stomach and it kinda sapped the joy from the whole day for me. I don’t want to see racing end, but I’m not sure how I will proceed from here with watching it. I’ll have to give it time and think.
                  It is gut wrenching to see someone injured, we feel so helpless also, no question there.

                  Now, not watching racing because someone may get injured would be similar to dreading walking out to feed every morning and wondering who will have some serious injury and may even be dead, because you have experienced that before.
                  It would be like not wanting to get in a car and hurl down highways because wrecks happen regularly, just watch the daily news.
                  Better highways, better cars, better supervision of drivers, still, many daily wrecks.

                  Now, there is no excuse if there is something wrong that needs to be managed so more than the rare accident happens, like having a bully in a pasture and horses keep being injured, or whatever may be wrong with a track that has more than their share of incidents.

                  As Grandma used to say, only those that care for animals lose them.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    At Pau CCI***** a couple weeks ago, a rider tried to continue on XC after his rein broke. The rider lost the ability to effectively steer his horse and the result was his horse tried to jump a 10ft+ solid, decorative wall, slamming headlong into it at full speed. It was one of the more disturbing things I have ever witnessed; but it also sums up just how much heart these competitive animals have. The horse was so game to jump and compete that he was unphased when confronted with an obstacle no horse could clear.

                    My now-retired broodmare hasn't had a rider sit on her since 1996 during her brief racing career. She was happily playing in the pasture on Christmas Eve 2013 when she stepped wrong and shattered her entire hoof capsule, fracturing and contaminating her P3 and ruptured her coffin joint. She is still with us, but quite frankly, she shouldn't be-- luck, toughness, and incredible will to live are the only reasons she pulled through.

                    There is sometimes nothing we can do to prevent the worst from happening. Preventing horses from doing something they love does not necessarily keep them safer. The real question is how can we ensure humans always act as the best stewards for our animals? And that's a complicated question...
                    Last edited by Texarkana; Nov. 3, 2019, 10:18 AM.
                    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                      I agree about the line to be drawn which is eminently a personal thing.
                      *Absolut Equestrian*

                      "The plural of anecdote is not fact...except in the horse industry"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                        It is gut wrenching to see someone injured, we feel so helpless also, no question there.

                        Now, not watching racing because someone may get injured would be similar to dreading walking out to feed every morning and wondering who will have some serious injury and may even be dead, because you have experienced that before.
                        It would be like not wanting to get in a car and hurl down highways because wrecks happen regularly, just watch the daily news.
                        Better highways, better cars, better supervision of drivers, still, many daily wrecks.

                        Now, there is no excuse if there is something wrong that needs to be managed so more than the rare accident happens, like having a bully in a pasture and horses keep being injured, or whatever may be wrong with a track that has more than their share of incidents.

                        As Grandma used to say, only those that care for animals lose them.
                        You make very good points. Your right we can’t live in fear and accidents will never be zero. Personally though I’m considering watching races after I know everyone came back safe in a replay.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                          At Pau CCI***** a couple weeks ago, a rider tried to continue on XC after his rein broke. The rider lost the ability to effectively steer his horse and the result was his horse tried to jump a 10ft+ solid, decorative wall, slamming headlong into it at full speed. It was one of the more disturbing things I have ever witnessed; but it also sums up just how much heart these competitive animals have. The horse was so game to jump and compete that he was unphased when confronted with an obstacle no horse could clear.
                          That's disgusting. That rider should be banned.
                          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                            That's disgusting. That rider should be banned.
                            I agree it was an exceptionally bad judgement call. The rider was appropriate, humbled, and remorseful in his public response after the accident. I believe he was yellow-carded, as he should be.

                            At the same time, had he successfully completed the course with a broken rein, he would have been lauded for his bravery and horsemanship. He would have been held up on a pedestal as someone to emulate. Little girls would have been hanging his poster on their walls.

                            We have a terrible double standard in the horse industry.
                            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Texarkana View Post

                              I agree it was an exceptionally bad judgement call. The rider was appropriate, humbled, and remorseful in his public response after the accident. I believe he was yellow-carded, as he should be.

                              At the same time, had he successfully completed the course with a broken rein, he would have been lauded for his bravery and horsemanship. He would have been held up on a pedestal as someone to emulate. Little girls would have been hanging his poster on their walls.

                              We have a terrible double standard in the horse industry.
                              This mare was retiring after this show.
                              She had won a ton and didn't have anything to prove.
                              Guess that last run she still had something to show everyone:

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mswhpLuempw

                              He did pick the bridle up, it was a safety hazard hanging there.
                              He knew touching it would eliminate them, or who knows what they may have scored after that run if he had not.

                              If she had run wild and loose and hit the wall, well, we may be hearing a different story.

                              Some times something harebrained works, others, sadly, end up badly.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                                This mare was retiring after this show.
                                She had won a ton and didn't have anything to prove.
                                Guess that last run she still had something to show everyone:

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mswhpLuempw

                                He did pick the bridle up, it was a safety hazard hanging there.
                                He knew touching it would eliminate them, or who knows what they may have scored after that run if he had not.

                                If she had run wild and loose and hit the wall, well, we may be hearing a different story.

                                Some times something harebrained works, others, sadly, end up badly.
                                Exactly. Everyone goes, “wow, that was brilliant!” Yet had horse or rider gotten hurt, the conversation would have been entirely different.
                                Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Lost in the discussion of course were the truly wonderful performances. I loved Covfefe but also the dead gameness of Bellafina. Mitole is a revelation. That is one nice racehorse. Bricks and Mortar is pretty special too.

                                  I loved that some of the people were not the usual suspects. I know people wanted to coronate Omaha Beach but Spun to Run is a better story. So is Joe Bravo over Mike Smith although I was rooting for Midnight Bisou.

                                  There are reasons we follow this sport and not all of us are gamblers and I don't think we are a bunch of sadistic jerks who don't care if horses get hurt. It is awesome when it all comes together and a horse becomes Gandalf under the mountain "You will not pass!!!" It's partial payment for all of the inevitable disappointment and sadness.

                                  It's magic.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Texarkana View Post

                                    I agree it was an exceptionally bad judgement call. The rider was appropriate, humbled, and remorseful in his public response after the accident. I believe he was yellow-carded, as he should be.

                                    At the same time, had he successfully completed the course with a broken rein, he would have been lauded for his bravery and horsemanship. He would have been held up on a pedestal as someone to emulate. Little girls would have been hanging his poster on their walls.

                                    We have a terrible double standard in the horse industry.
                                    I would never laud someone for doing something that stupid, endangering his horse, himself, fence judges, spectators, other horses and riders on course etc. I see no chance whatsoever of someone completing a cross country course with one rein and a thousand scenarios where tragedy occurs.
                                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                      I would never laud someone for doing something that stupid, endangering his horse, himself, fence judges, spectators, other horses and riders on course etc. I see no chance whatsoever of someone completing a cross country course with one rein and a thousand scenarios where tragedy occurs.
                                      Right.
                                      A well trained top reining horse is trained to the point that it will perform without a bridle, as plenty do in freestyles.

                                      A cross country horse in a difficult three day event is not going to guide at all with just one rein.
                                      It really was wild and crazy that he didn't pull immediately up.

                                      The Reiner example is to show that such unexpected things just happen some times.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Wasn't there a jockey in a major steeplechase many decades ago who had a rein break and still finished the steeplechase? People thought it was fantastic, but I remember thinking reading that, yikes! In a steeplechase, over fences, with other racers around? Thank God there wasn't a big crash.

                                        ETA: Found it. Fred Winter, 1962, Grand Steeplechase de Paris, on Mandarin. The bit broke. He won, but I still cringe thinking of racing like that.
                                        Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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