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I vent because I feel sad and helpless

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  • I vent because I feel sad and helpless

    I know, I know this is a business, with which I have a love/hate relationship. Every once in a while I follow a horse that I know is on a one-way track to hell and it is disheartening, to say the least.

    Last year I was a foreman in a big racing stable. One of the horses in my care was a filly who, ironically, had been claimed by my employer from my former employer. She had come from NY and was a speed ball. All speed, all the time. Broke on top and stayed there on a good day.

    At the end of last year, many horses from our track were sold to a "pool" of people in Puerto Rico. She was one of them. I know what happens to racehorses in PR when they're no longer earning a check. Unfortunately, I had the task of taking her to and loading her on the van and I felt horrible every step of the way. Honestly, I knew what I was delivering her into and I felt guilty and helpless.

    So, she's on my stable watch and I've been watching her career in PR. She started out winning races, or at least hitting the board, usually as a favorite or short price. As time has gone on, she's starting to fall off, no longer remotely competitive. But they keep running the poor girl. She's run for at least two years without a break, probably longer.

    Today, I open up the chart for her race yesterday and see that her odds were over 100/1 and, not surprisingly, she broke last and finished last.

    She wasn't a warm, fuzzy girl, pinned her ears a lot, HATED being brushed and let you know it (I hated getting her ready for races on cold days when I couldn't just spray her off), but I understood her. She was an angel going to the paddock and being saddled, and always ran her a** off.

    I can't help but feel sorry for her because she's miserable and on the short track to death by bullet. Probably she'll be better off for it: and that's such a sad ending for a nasty girl who just did her job.

  • #2
    Your post is so real. Maybe there will be some justice in the world for this hard working mare. You knew she was special and just maybe there is another out there that is a great home and wants a hardworking mare for a job.

    Thank you for posting your story.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, she will mostly likely be shot at the end of the meet, especially given her disposition. Do you want her? I have plenty of contacts in PR. If you want her, I can try to help, or can at least try to check up on her for you.

      I would need her name and the owner's name to start.

      Comment


      • #4
        I also have contacts there & could probably track her down for you if you wanted her.....

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks guys, but I'm in NO position to take on another horse. Would if I could. Truth be told, she's one of many I've watched go down the pike. I do what I can, which is never enough.

          Comment


          • #6
            foundationmare, I feel for you. I know what you mean, sad & helpless. Times are hard all around, and those of us who can take on another mouth to feed, already have (many times over).

            I keenly feel your pain, as I'm in a similar situation - one on my Equibase "stable" watching, can't stop watching, even as it goes downhill....

            Several times, had to stop myself making a phone call. I know who has him, I know where he is. But what if I did make the call? When he's at the end of the road, "worthless", I know *these* people will want at least a bail out fee. I'd have to take a day off work (not possible in your case, I understand) and drive to pay & get him, bring him home - to my overcrowded tiny barn, with my own income enough to care for them & myself (barely) already...

            It makes me feel for those who get in over their heads, too. Having some land, a barn, it makes it too easy to start to think, could I squeeze one more in? Maybe such & such bill won't hit until later than I thought, etc, etc...

            But I'm holding firm as I know I CAN care for the ones I have, but adding another....

            So I should just stop watching, right? Why put myself through the pain, of seeing, another "Final Entry Notification" on my email, why open it with sinking heart, then the results, praying he is in the money to justify better care... seeing him trying, still trying SO HARD (sob) but fading to the back, the "up trackers", soon to be the "not worth the feed bill" ....

            I know the owner he has been claimed by now has a history of being ruthless & careless at the end - he has so many, what is one to him? Just a horse, not earning it's feed bill anymore...

            Just got notice he's starting again Oct 1st at Penn Nat. Praying he can show them something, keep running, boy!

            Until I can work myself into a situation to help you.

            Anyway, I wasn't going to vent, but I had to share, as you shared, and I understand so much how you feel 'sad & helpless' -

            So very many in desperate need now, it seems almost pointless - yet the two we speak of, just two more used up race horses to others, are to us, two equine souls we met, knew, cared about...

            It's an impossible situation, but I for one can't blame you for following her, "watching" her, even all the way to Puerto Rico... Maybe we'll get lucky and some angel with room for one more rescue, and money to pay for transport, will find her and/or my boy! I guess I keep hoping just following my boy, I can somehow be there at the end, even if I don't have the money or wherewithal to help myself at the time.

            Good luck, & also sending cyber ((hugs)) to you,
            Arcadien

            Comment


            • #7
              Too many tragic stories in racing. So many on the road to nowhere, no future, no one cares. It's just about the almighty dollar. How can these big breeders reconcile themselves to these horses going to obscure places to race knowing they won't live to see a life after their career spirals downward on a nowhere track. I just don't understand how they can do it! These young, beautiful creatures - used up and then killed. Doesn't make the slick publications like the BloodHorse. The only folks who want to help are not financially capable. Geez!
              PennyG

              Comment


              • #8
                How sad Your story is so touching. I worked at the track for awhile but stuff like this just got to me too much. I cant understand how people could just sell the horses off to Puerto Rico, knowing what will happen. I mean, I understand why, its a business, but I couldnt do it. Its a shame that none of her former owners could step up for her. But I guess if they had to spend their money taking care of their old horses, it would make participating in the sport much harder. I think I figured out who she is, I dont remember her but she sure seemed like a game runner.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Arcadien, thanks and may the racing gods favor you and "your" horse. Thank you for your sentiments.

                  I checked Pedigree Query and at the time it was last updated, she had 9 wins and $100,000 in earnings. Both numbers have increased since then.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It is probably of little consolation to know that you are not alone in your despair. So many of the horses I watch are falling down in the ranks, eking out a card-filling existance at best, leaving me wondering why I torture myself by adding them in the first place knowing I can't personally help them all.

                    Cold comfort, but I believe a swift bullet is preferable to certain other fates.

                    The system isn't set up with the horses' best interests in mind, that's for sure.

                    Originally posted by TKR
                    The only folks who want to help are not financially capable.
                    Actually that's not true. Mary Lou Whitney, Maggie Moss, and Nick & Kim Zito come to mind.

                    There are people who care, at all levels, but the amount of horses in at-risk situations outweighs the resources of those who can help.
                    Last edited by Barnfairy; Sep. 30, 2009, 12:33 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I know a 9yr old gelding winner of 300,000+ was sold for $125 last week to continue to run in low end claimers. Luckily a trainer told me about him so if he doesn't finish well next time out I get to go pick him up and I think I have found a home for him in KY.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thankyou for posting this. As someone outside of racing but who has horses I know that racehorses face an uncertain future when they are no longer competitive on the track. To read about it from people who looked after some of these horses and who see them as animals with personalities and feelings rather than just another thoroughbred brings their fate into focus.

                        There is a lot wrong with racing. It isn't acceptable to "use 'em up and throw 'em away" which is what happens to the majority right now. If racing was made to be responsible for the horses throughout their lives (there are some great ideas on how to raise the funds for this on another thread) the public would have their eyes opened to what is happening and there would be a backlash. Which is needed. Racing has never kept the interests of the horses as a high priority when left to govern itself so something else must prick its conscience. And negative public opinion may well be the perfect tool.

                        If racing was responsible for every racehorse throughout their life and if there was high publicity given to used up horses with worn out joints, 3 year olds being put down because they have raced so many times their legs have given out, there are many possible spinoffs. One could be the removal of all 2yo races. If racehorses are not started as yearlings they may survive the stresses of racing for longer. Lets be honest. The only reason 2yo races are there at all is so that owners don't have to pay out so much money in training and keep fees before they can start racing their horses. Its all based on money and to hell with horse welfare.
                        Secondly could be enforced holidays for all horses for 2 or perhaps 3 months each year. I know some owners already do this and are reknowned for the longevity of their horses' racing careers. This is also the way foxhunters have been managed in the UK for centuries. They stay sound well into their late teens despite galloping many miles in all kinds of going carrying very heavy weights throughout the winter. And doing this one or two times a week. A much heavier workload than even the hardest working racehorse.
                        Thirdly would be provision of humane euthanasia for those racehorses who had painful injuries that will not recover or those simply unsuitable for rehoming due to handling or temperament issues. This really has to be the responsibility of racing rather than being palmed off onto rescue organisations like CANTER.

                        Yes, all of the above would make owning a racehorse more expensive and so the people at the bottom of the totem pole may find they can no longer afford to do it. Or more likely they would not be able to have as many horses. Which would mean there were fewer horses being thrashed round the lower level tracks, being raced when they were still sore and banged up from the race before and lead to fewer horses needing to be rescued in the long run. If horses were retired due to slowness rather than lameness they would stand a better chance of being rehomed too.

                        Racing is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet its bedrock, the horses, are treated as commodities. The way things are right now cannot be allowed to continue. The mare that started this post has won over $100,000 on the racetrack and yet her thanks for that is to be run and run and run on more and more painful legs (the usual reason why horses slow down, that and mental pain from being ridden too hard when they have nothing more to give) until she is considered useless as a racehorse and then she'll be shot. That's appaling. It is indefensible. It has got to change.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by saratoga View Post
                          How sad Your story is so touching. I worked at the track for awhile but stuff like this just got to me too much. I cant understand how people could just sell the horses off to Puerto Rico, knowing what will happen. I mean, I understand why, its a business, but I couldnt do it. Its a shame that none of her former owners could step up for her. But I guess if they had to spend their money taking care of their old horses, it would make participating in the sport much harder. I think I figured out who she is, I dont remember her but she sure seemed like a game runner.
                          Just wanted to point out that just because the horse is sent to Puerto Rico to race doesn't mean they ALL get shot when they are done running. It's just like up here...some DO manage to find good homes & some are sold from down there to race back up here -- but going to Puerto Rico is not a death trap run your legs off or you'll get shot place. I had a filly we bred a few years ago that went down there to race & then made her way back up here to race.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tbracer65 View Post
                            Just wanted to point out that just because the horse is sent to Puerto Rico to race doesn't mean they ALL get shot when they are done running.
                            Exactly. And, a mare with her record is more attractive than a lot.

                            As for the people condemning people for sending stock to PR because they may be euthanized at the end of their careers... there's another thread on this forum talking about how the US should start euthanizing retiring horses. Why is it okay here, but not in PR?

                            As someone outside of racing but who has horses...
                            This is why more people in the industry don't post on these boards - because it's tiring responding to undoubtedly well-meaning, but still misinformed crusaders. It's like me going over to the Eventing forum and telling them that I've watched Rolex a few times and let me tell y'all what you need to do to stop killing horses. Not saying you have to be involved in racing to post here - not at all! But, there is apparently a big difference between perception and reality.

                            Racing is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet its bedrock, the horses, are treated as commodities.
                            As they are in every equine sport.

                            The mare that started this post has won over $100,000 on the racetrack and yet her thanks for that is to be run and run and run on more and more painful legs (the usual reason why horses slow down, that and mental pain from being ridden too hard when they have nothing more to give)
                            Where did you come up with this? How do you know she is sore? How do you know what the usual reason horses slow down is?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I lived in the Dutch West Indies for 10 years. I know from personal experience that some of the TBs that don't make it in PR are sold to individuals/stables in the islands. I leased one for about a year. He was a sweetie-but apparently not when a stallion....

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SleepyFox View Post

                                This is why more people in the industry don't post on these boards - because it's tiring responding to undoubtedly well-meaning, but still misinformed crusaders. It's like me going over to the Eventing forum and telling them that I've watched Rolex a few times and let me tell y'all what you need to do to stop killing horses. Not saying you have to be involved in racing to post here - not at all! But, there is apparently a big difference between perception and reality.



                                Where did you come up with this? How do you know she is sore? How do you know what the usual reason horses slow down is?

                                May I point out that foundationmare is not an outsider, but, rather, someone who has been involved intimately in the industry for many years. I would suggest that you go back and read her posts more thoroughly.

                                She is not lamenting the fate of all horses that go to PR, but the fate of one mare that she has known and cared for. A mare who, while running well here, was entered at 100/1 in her last race, and finished last. Not a likely candidate for reshipment to the US, or sale to any private individual, especially given her uncertain temperment. It's a sad state of affairs when a person cannot come to other people who have known similar situations to gain a little emotional support

                                While I would tend to agree that a bullet is not the worst thing that could happen to a horse at the end of her career, and certainly is kinder than the long cruel ride to slaughter that many horses in the US endure, I do not see why sympathy cannot be granted to a horse who has tried her best, and received death as her ultimate reward.

                                You complain constantly about outside crusaders who criticize when they may not know the whole story. But, many of the people who work on the tracks in this country recognize that the system is flawed. FLTAP was started by these very people, insiders who wanted to be able to ensure a better ending for their horses, if humanly possible.

                                People who blindly refuse to admit that there are problems, in any field of endeavor do nothing constructive, and often impede those who are honestly trying to find solutions to the problems that do exist. I suggest that you open your eyes, and take a look around, without the rose colored glasses.
                                If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                                Desmond Tutu

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  FWIW I also condemn the warmblood industry on mainland Europe that also starts many horses as 2 year olds. The stats from the insurance companies over there is that the average life expectancy of a warmblood is 8 years. Could there be a link? Do ya think?

                                  I'm not an animal rights activist or some kind of ignorant onlooker. I do expect horses to have to earn their hay. My own horses have to work hard and are very successful in competition. But I also expect any industry to look after its workers and the racing industry right now for the majority of its equine workers, the racehorses, does not.

                                  You sound very defensive Sleepyfox. That isn't necessary. You don't have to be an insider in racing to be able to say that the fate of most racehorses is unacceptable or that the industry as a whole could afford to look after them better even if looking after them equals putting them down. For someone who owns racehorses to begrudge $600 to euthanise a horse is nonsense. Compared to the cost of keeping a horse in training that is peanuts. It is well beyond time that racing stepped up to the plate and looked after the animals their industry relies on both during their racing days and afterwards.

                                  Regarding why horses slow down, do you really think it is anything other than pain or mental fatigue? Really?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 3dogfarm View Post
                                    I lived in the Dutch
                                    West Indies for 10 years. I know from personal experience that some of the TBs that
                                    don't make it in PR are sold to individuals/stables in the islands. I leased one for about a year. He was a sweetie-but apparently not when a stallion....
                                    This is a good point. There are other islands where they are importing breeding stock, too. With this mare's record, she has a chance of being sold as a broodmare. Obvioulsy, I can't say for sure, but there is some hope.


                                    May I point out that foundationmare is not an outsider, but, rather, someone who has been involved intimately in the industry for many years. I would suggest that you go back and read her posts more thoroughly.
                                    Louise, I wasn't quoting Foundationmare.

                                    People who blindly refuse to admit that there are problems, in any field of endeavor do nothing constructive, and often impede those who are honestly trying to find solutions to the problems that do exist. I suggest that you open your eyes, and take a look around, without the rose colored glasses.
                                    I don't believe I've ever said that racing has no problems. But, I'm a pragmatist - not an idealist - and understand that the problems are a lot more complex than "greedy heartless owners" (to paraphrase a common sentiment). Plus, I don't believe correcting blatant misinformation is the same as donning rose colored glasses.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I know that anytime you post on this forum about feeling sad about the fate of lots of the horses, people get defensive and accuse you of being an ignorant fool who thinks that everyone in racing is evil, etc. I am a racing fan of 30 years and have worked on different tracks at different times in my life, as a groom and hotwalker and a little as a rider, but never did get involved as an owner or trainer because I am too much of a softie and have to keep my animals for life. I dont have enough money to do that with a stable of racehorses, especially I didnt want to take the major chance of having a horse get hurt and having to keep a lame horse for the next 20+ years.

                                      Anyhow, its a shame that people cant vent their sadness or acknowledge that these things happen. I cant imagine anyone who really cares about horses who doesnt have kind of a love / hate relationship with racing. I know I do. I've been a big Rachel Alexandra fan this year and I flew across the country to see her in the Woodward. It was one of the best days of my life but there is so much sadness in the sport too.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Larger issues aside - foundationmare, you have my empathy and I feel for you.

                                        Any time a horse we feel a connection to is in a less-than-great situation, it's hard to deal with. And in this case it's like you're watching this decline happen and are powerless to stop it. And that's a really horrible feeling, so, at the risk of being cheesy, *hugs* to you, and hang in there.
                                        "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                        My CANTER blog.

                                        Comment

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