I’m tired. There is this feeling of worthlessness that enters my body every time that I sign on to the internet, every time that I click open on the comments section of one of my blogs, every time that I go home to Meadville, Pennsylvania, and am barraged by questions about the industry that I love so much. Today it was slaughter houses, last week it was a high name event trainer assuming that my retired racehorse was neglected on the track, a month ago it was that damn PETA video resurfacing, and 6 months ago it was the lies and false accusations about the nurse mare industry. But what do all of these have in common? They come from horse people: people that should know better, or know otherwise, but don’t.
It is the same story: I hear or read a falsity about this industry, I become enraged, and I begin to type or speak. Whether it be via a comment, a Facebook status, a blog, or a tirade of a conversation. But with each conversation, whether it be face to face or over the World Wide Web, I begin to feel like my words are worthless. That it is my word against theirs, and that there is NOTHING to back me up. I realize that I have such little clout. I am not the Mosses, Larry Bramlage, or Bob Baffert. I don’t manage a massive breeding operation or a shedrow at a successful track. I hung up my pitchfork and returned to school to obtain my doctorate, and with that, I hung up my street cred. The name “Carleigh Fedorka” does not ring bells, unless it is said in Lexington, Kentucky, and usually adjoined to the words “wants a new project horse” or “is available to work the sales.” That name tacked onto the comments section gets dismissed and overlooked by the people scrolling the comments; instead, they see the other thousand comments telling lies, falsities, and exaggerations about this industry that I cherish so much.
And after the defense that I lay down is overlooked – a defense that I have studied for, worked for, and perfected after years of living with lawyers – I am left feeling enraged. But I have recently realized that my anger has shifted. It is not pointed towards the people who elocute these falsities, because, honestly, who could blame them? They read something on the internet, something as ridiculous as the idea that we pull every mare off of her foal to be bred back and the foals are placed with nurse mares, leaving THOUSANDS of unwanted “nursemare foals.” They see cute pictures of skinny paint foals, they see hundreds of comments demeaning the thoroughbred industry, and they suddenly believe those words as gospel. And when people question this lunacy, the masses have that website, and those sad eyes, to back up their statement. And what do I have? I have my words. My thoughts. My opinions. And my lack of street cred.
My anger has shifted towards the industry that I love. Because beyond me there is an industry of hundreds of thousands of people who so boisterously say that they want change. That say that they understand that this industry needs to grow and develop if we want it to survive. Who spend millions of dollars every year to advertise the races, to promote the game, and who are so dense that they don’t realize that this industry that we love is being killed by things as simple as social media.
There are 200,000 people who “like” the Last Chance Corral. That is 200,000 people who will never go to the races or the sales because they believe that this “sick and twisted” industry pulls 30,000 nursemare foals off of their dams just so that their dams can nurse a “more valuable” foal. There are thousands of people who demand “bail money” for the thoroughbreds who inhabit the auction houses of America. Claiming that these racehorses are overpopulating the slaughterhouses, making the mass public think that they are the only breed at New Holland. These same people have infiltrated social media with comments where they are CERTAIN that American Pharoah himself is heading to slaughter. This is not to mention the 3 million people who “like” PETA, which is self explanatory. And these people share these lies, and these lies get shared again and again and again, and soon go viral.
And what do we do? The “old boys club” of this gallant industry that I stand with? Well, the industry is so focused on Lasix, and Polytrack, and the format of Book 1 at the Keeneland September Sales, that they dismiss these nuisances that are so “insignificant” to them. They assume that by ignoring these comments that they will simply go away, but instead of going away, they are TURNING AWAY millions of people who could, and would, eventually become fans. Horse people who might actually learn to love what we do. Who might eventually invest in a broodmare or two, or want to come to the Breeder’s Cup. Who would learn to love this industry just as I have, who might buy a couple hundred acres, and then pass on this love to their children, and grandchildren. The effect could grown exponentially in either direction – and right now, its growing away from us.
There is so much great about this industry, so much that goes unadvertised to the masses. So here is what I ask to be thrown into the loop of these meetings of the greats. Do we need a governing body to control things like race day medications and rehoming of racehorses who are finished with their first careers? Yes. We need someone to finally stand up and administer regulations that keeps our sport clean and fair, and most importantly, that takes care of the horses and staff in it. But to add to that, keep one office open in that building that I’m sure will be erected in Lexington, Kentucky. And on the door of that office, hang a sign that reads “Public Relation’s.” Because on top of the physical changes that need to be made to this industry, we need a mental change. A mindset that realizes how global news has become, and how bad press can travel so quickly. We need a strong governing body, but one that has a strong governing VOICE. And that voice needs to come from someone who not only gets it, but also who has a bit of clout. With an emblem behind them that people can trust and respect. That is what I wish for this industry, because this name has neither of those, and this pedestal is starting to crack.
Well said. I skip the comments sections these days, it is not good for my health!
As a PR person, I simply could not agree more, Carleigh! Any organization that underestimates the power of social media these days is asking for a WORLD of hurt (just ask Dr. Palmer, lion-killer). Ignore at your own risk. Instead, use those powerful voices, get Bob Baffert or Bode Miller or another instantly recognizable figure and have them speak to the masses about the issues nagging the public at large. There are plenty of efforts being made to promote racing and boost track attendance, and AP is doing a fine job all by himself, but you’re right – the things that make the headlines and get talked about cannot simply be swept under the rug. It’s crazy!
I went to the track myself last night (Fairmount Park) and was delighted to see so many people. The facility has been upgraded since last year, too. We’re losing too many of them lately and I’m happy to support this one. Would love to have asked the average racegoer there if he/she had concerns about the horses and if so, what were they.
I think a lot more people are hearing YOUR voice than you think, too! Keep it up!
PS. Build that PR building and I will come… would LOVE to spend my days spreading the GOOD news about racing! 😊
I’m the proud owner of an OTTB – pulled from the kill pen at New Holland. He didn’t end up there directly by the hands of his breeders/owners/trainers – but from the eventer that was unhappy with his refusals at FHI.
I’m willing to listen to what you have to say and share it – but please explain the whole Nurse Mare Industry. Explain why so many TB’s end up in slaughter and why yes – the industry that we want to love will not defend itself. Explain how we just had to read articles about multiple horses that had to be saved – basically through “ransom” by a group of people that were only allowed to save them from the kill-buyer that got them DIRECTLY from the track with the agreement that the group would not pursue the person(s) that were so willing to let this sad little group go directly from the track to the slaughter pipeline – and we know the track has to know who, how and when. But they turn a blind eye. In this day and age – there is no such thing as a secret anymore.
And I promise you – I’m not trying to give you a hard time. I love my OTTB – I’m proud to share his story, his race record, his wins, his pedigree – his biggest LoSs which was to end up in a NH with a kill buyer tag on his rump and his biggest WIN ever which was to be spotted and saved by the best ever Bev Strauss. I really want to learn more and be more educated and not so quick to click that “share” button and comment on how evil the industry is.
I’d love to converse with you more if you have the time and are willing to follow-up. I cringe when my friends – that know I have an OTTB – go off on racing and how evil it is. I’d love to have some logical points to come back with. And yes – I’d love to feel better myself about an industry that I love – for producing the most magnificent creature to ever grace the earth – – yet in the public eye – doesn’t seem to give a rip about what happens to them when their usefulness has worn out 😦
I would love to converse with you and give you an idea of the TB industry that I have come to know and love. A couple of points just towards the points you made-organizations like Last Chance Corral ploy on people’s emotions and claim that we use nurse mares for all of our foals just so that the mare can be taken to the breeding shed. This is 100% false. Foals are left behind at the farm and rejoined with their mothers when they get back from the shed-and we only use nursemares in dire case scenarios-like if a mare dies during parturition.
Moving onto slaughter, I don’t have much of a statement. This is obviously an INDUSTRY wide problem, not just a TB problem. The TB’s get the most publicity because we can trace their identities back via their tattoos. There are obviously bad people in the industry who send their horses to auctions like New Holland when they are done racing, but I would assume that it is more like 70% of the TB’s who actually come from their second careers, or people who promised their race owners a great and loving home. The majority of horses at those auctions are actually quarter horses and mutts, but we have the most “allure” for publicity, and therefore take the rap for the other industries.
Like I said, I would love to talk. For each “negative connotation” that someone can provide about the TB industry, I can most definitely either shed light on it, or have a counter point with the amazing things that the TB industry IS doing (like providing funding for invaluable research) and look forward to hearing from you! Please feel free to email me at email@example.com
AQHA (the Quarter horse people) are actually PRO slaughter, as are I think possibly the APHA (the Paint people, closely intertwined with the Quarter horse people) but I think a lot of people don’t realize that – while at least the TB folks have come out saying ‘you know, slaughter is not a good solution’ and TRIED to implement systems to stop horses being sold direct to kill. The systems may not be perfected yet, but I think that’s leaps and bounds better than “sure, breed as many as you want, the kill buyers will always take the culls!” which seems to be the AQHA attitude.
I like your blog, but your defense ( in your blog article) of the racing industry seems as one sided as the Last Chance Corral folks. I grew up riding OTTBs back whe that was the norm. We bought ours from a family friend who was a “hobby racer” and his kids rode the horses around the farm in halters in the summer. They were well cared for. However racing is like any industry and sport, there is the good, the bad and the occasional news worthy horror story. I have an OTTB bought on Dreamhorse that passed a basic vet check. He was going to be my mid life crises event horse LOL! The minute he stepped off the shipping trailer I knew something was wrong with the horse. Thousands of dollars in vet diagnostics later, months of researching the “real history” of this horse and even tracking and talking with his race trainer-my horses story does not do the race industry any favors. He was born on an institutional large California farm given a harsh weaning, his owner did not have a farm so this horse was trucked to the track early in his life and never was socialized with other horses. Anyone who has half a brain could look at this horses top heavy confirmation and SEE that his leg bones would not hold up to racing as a two year old. But he was just an investment- so they put him to work as soon as possible. They broke his bones before he even had his first race. He got vet care for that break only because they thought he could make them money. They also cut nerves in anoher leg so he would not feel pain. Then they brought him back to race again. Broke another bone asap. Then owners told trainer ” get rid of him, we won’t spend another penny on him and will not pay for any vet care”. The owner and trainer never once followed up to see if the horse was getting vet care or in a good home. He was in the So CAl racing system so sending to slaughter was not an option unless trainer wanted to lose his license. Got dumped at a low rent “rescue” who basicly re-homes the seriously injured their network of ex race track workers hoping to get lucky and make a quick buck if horse makes a miraculous recover. My horse was kept in a back yard shed for 8 months with no vet care which resulted in the fetlock suffering far worse arthritis, displacement etc. MY local vet was shocked at the neglect of this injury that normally heals well if treated properly. The confinement in a small shed, lack of vet care also created severe mental issues for this horse. He was drugged and fattened up for the sale. Almost two years later and a huge investment in this horse he is almost normal mentally, is serviceable sound on good footing but will never hold up for eventing. His explosions while riding were so severe he put me in the hospital. All that said, he has a home for life. My horse is at a barn full of OTTB rejects that all have been mishandled in some way either on the track or after the track. The trainer there is a bit of a horse whisperer type person but also was a race trainer and owner a long time ago. He has seen it all– good and bad first hand. . Its not against the law to run a horse into the ground as long as they passed a vet check.. . On the other side of racing we have a race trainers wife who keeps their sale horses at our barn. she re-homes their ex race horses and they treat all their horses well That said, they are the first to admit they lose clients sometimes because they will NOT run a sore horse. Their horses come off the track sound and ready for 2nd career. And by the way, the crappy “thoroughbred rescue” my horse was sent to-after I exposed their practice of not treating their injured horses they lost their major funding from thoroughbred industry grants. At least no more injured race horses will suffer at their hands. If the racing industry wants more people to embrace it– they need to keep working to weed out the abusive owners and breeders. Sometimes the abuse is news worthy but other times is subtle. The horse recently adopted at our barn had been run EVERY MONTH FOR THREE YEARS! He never left his stall for three years except to train and run And that treatment is not against the law. The low rent owner/trainer loaded up her underfed horses into a ratty run down trailer and made them run for their dinner all around the western states and footing did not matter, state fairs or tracks -as long as there was chance of money those horses ran. When they realized this horse was almost on his last leg, they parked him at a track, cut his food until he was a body score of 3 ( not illegal just mean) , made him sleep in a hard stall with no bedding and had no farrier work for months until he sold. It’s this kind of treatment and the horses that are used like sweat shop workers that gives racing a bad name. The better funded trainers and owners obviously try and do a better job. There are plenty of both kinds of owners and trainers. Every time someone writes and article and claims all is great with the racing industry, it just turns off those who know better
To be honest, I stopped reading this comment after reading that your horse passed a “basic pre purchase” and then it was found that he had a variety of pre existing conditions. While it might have been the racing industries fault that the horse had older injuries, it is your duty as a horse person to do a thorough PPE on a horse you wish to purchase. Your negligence can’t be blamed on an industry.
I own, breed and race and while I agree with much of what you said I must say that a lot of these things that you are talking about are self inflicted wounds. 9 Tb’s that Maggi Moss saved were traced back to Evangeline Downs. So what happens to the owners and trainers? Nothing. You know how you combat undercover videos like the PETA one? Don’t act like that around the horses. Until we clean our house PR does nothing to fix the problems, it only treats some of the symptoms. You want to fix the slaughter problem, start banning owners and trainers. Expose them. Start a data base of people that dump to kill pens so they never get another rescue. These problems are fixable but putting a better spin on them doesn’t fix anything.
I am not asking for anything to be swept under the rug, I’m asking for the industry to have a unified body that understands that there are more problems, perhaps even greater problems, than that of race day medications and anabolic steroids. It seems to be a hot topic within the industry, but to the outside world, it isn’t Lasix that makes people hate racing. It is falsities conceived about nursemares, horror stories like you mention of horses being sent to slaughter houses, and stories shared by PETA. I’m not saying that those are issues that can be swept aside, I’m saying we need a knowledgeable group to mediate the problem. Not just answer to questions and complaints, but to make changes as well. But all of this needs to come together. The industry needs to open their minds to the plethora of problems, not just the smaller ones.
oh yes, I “like” last Chance Corral, but I know that the nurse mares are used only in dire circumstances 😦 I have also bought out of the meat pens at our local auction often – – when I was younger and could re-train and re-home them. yes the “big boys” have to realize that peta and their social images are very IMPORTANT !
Brian points out that there are very real problems that need to be addressed. You claim that you don’t want anything swept under the rug; it’s a matter of the industry facing those issues that concern the general public (potential fans). But your entire post is about how the racing industry is beset by falsehoods and needs better PR to combat rescues like the Last Chance Corral tugging at the heartstrings of a gullible public. It’s disingenuous. Given the emphasis of your post and despite what you said to Brian, it doesn’t seem that solutions are what interest you. But if you solve the problems, you won’t have to worry so much about how to put a prettier face on it.
Thank you. I, too am frustrated. I have worked in various parts of the industry since the early 1980s. I have had horses all my life, and since becoming a part of racing, had always had at least one OTTB. They make such wonderful horses for any discipline, yet rarely does a day pass that I am not defending those “crazy Thoroughbreds” or “crazy race horses”. I try to explain what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and refute the lies. We don’t just need PR people–we need PR people who are also horse people. Thank you for your post. You are not alone.
That is not true. My post is about how the industry has more problems than just the “real problems” because many people aren’t becoming fans simply because of lies and misconceptions about the industry–my example was nursemare foals. The propaganda that LCC claims against the TB industry is a “problem” but not that just needs fixed by the industry being more vocal about. I said at the end that they need to add this conversation in on their meetings about the other issues such as race day medication, never said that they just need to be spun!
I very much share your frustration. I’m not confident, however, that putting an all-powerful federal regulatory agency over the sport would be salubrious. In fact, I suspect the opposite. The federal government tends to weaken and impair whatever it touches. (Hundreds and maybe thousands of physicians, e.g., could be leaving their practices in the next few years prematurely because of their frustration with federal regulations.) I also suspect that many of the people advocating federal control are doing so only because, persuasion having failed, they see that as the only way that they can impose their will.
By the way, I enjoy and greatly appreciate your writing. Thanks,
I don’t mean to be accusatory when I point out that your stance seems to be on defending through public relations rather than addressing problems.
I have no connection with Last Chance Corral other than looking at their page now and then to look at cute foals. Never have I gotten the message, however, that 100% of race-farm brood mares have their foals pulled from them for breeding. As I understand it, that happens only when a mare is to be sent off farm to be re-bred. Are you saying that nurse mares are NEVER used when a TB mare is being sent out for breeding? That seems to be your messàge, and is one that I have a hard time believing.
The fact is that we do have a serious oversupply of horses in this country these days. The sad fact is that thousands get sent to slaughter every month. Slaughter bound horses include every breed, every discipline, every age (including quite young), and every condition. I would say to the TB racing industry the same as I would say to QH breeders and mini breeders and Paint breeders and draft breeders….quit breeding so damn much!
There is no industry that benefits by flooding the market with a product. In fact, the contrary is true. Look at the diamond industry. Diamonds are not all that rare. In fact, many semiprecious stones are harder to come by than diamonds. But the diamond industry, primarily the DeBeers family, has long controlled the supply of diamonds, causing a false scarcity….and artificially high prices. Those DeBeers folks are pretty damn clever.
Profits are maximized where marginal costs equal marginal revues. What does this mean in real terms? It means that it is sometimes smarter to work less which results in higher profits.
Now, I realize that the racing community is not just breeding to produce income from the raw sale of horses. This is where ego comes in….breeding for the glory of that one, rare, exceptional winner. But flooding the market with the “almosts” just isn’t smart. Breed less but breed smarter. Just because a mare has JC papers doesn’t mean you’re compelled to breed her every year….or at all.
A little common sense in thesis industry would go a long way. Unfortunately, that’s not how the industry as a whole is run these days and the horses are the ones who are suffering because of it.
I said at the end that our industry needs a governing body that needs not just a strong body, but a strong voice. I thought I made it pretty clear that I think that there are issues that need changes made to them – race day medication being one, but on top of that – utter fallacies need handled as well. LCC DOES in fact claim that mares are pulled from their foals to be re-bred and the foals are then placed on nurse mares. This is 100% false. The foals are kept back in a stall, the mare is taken to the breeding shed, and returned to her foal once she is bred. If the mare is traveling a far distance – the stallion’s farm will supply a stall to leave the foal in while the mare goes to the shed. LCC is raising thousands upon thousands of dollars by claiming this lie as truth, which in my opinion, and I think in the legal world, is considered fraud.
I also agree that fewer horses need to be bred, but at least in the thoroughbred industry, they are bred with a purpose. Whether it be to sell or to race, there is an end goal. The slaughterhouses are filled with more backyard breeders who do not understand how expensive a foal can be for 3 years before it can be ridden, as well as AQHA, which allows numerous embryos to be collected from a mare on a single year. There are actually more registered QH’s every year that TB’s. SO, in a nutshell, I completely agree that over breeding is a problem, but the solution is not to attack thoroughbred racing. We have stayed away from ART, for the simple fact that it in itself limits the number of foals to the amount of a libido a stallion has. I just feel that the bias always leans towards attacking racing, when there are so many other organizations that should share the blame. We at least have created aftercare facilities as well as retirement facilities – has AQHA? Has the Saddlebred industry? No. We are steps ahead, but still take the majority of the flack.
There are more than four times as many QHs registered every year, their numbers are still @ 100k while ours have dropped to 22k. I think Paints and Appaloosas are still higher as well, it’s harder to find current numbers for them. At one point I’d seen estimates of more than 200k grade horses born every year as well.
LCC claims all foals are covered by insurance that doesn’t allow them to travel with the mare. They are also lobbying against the Jan. 1 birthdate and August paperwork deadline, which they claim force breeders to rebreed on the foal heat. They want the JC to allow (if not require) AI to solve this issue. Just saw another foal rescue pushing for ET as well.
Another problem with these groups is they are buying the foals from these supposed nurse mare farms, and refusing to expose their sources. They don’t want to endanger their relationships.
As I said in my original post, QH, Paint, draft, mini, etc. breeders are no different than TB breeders in that there is simply too much breeding for today’s market. Nowhere did I single out the racing industry as the sole cause of equine overpopulation in this country.
Backyard breeders are in a whole different category. They are like the folks who just let their dogs and cats reproduce over and over, unchecked. They are like the thugs who breed pit bulls and chihuahuas to sell out of their trunks for $50.00 a shot. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about them. They are not a real part of the horse community, by and large. Yes, they are a huge part of the problem, but I can’t imagine any way to persuade this group to curtail their breeding.
Curious, I went to lastchancecorral.org but only got an error message. In looking at their Facebook page, (going through their “About” section as well as their notes) I do not see any instance of them claiming that TB race breeders pull the foals off of all their brood mares. As that was just a cursory search, perhaps I missed it. Can you please provide a link to that message?
It is understandable that from where you stand you feel that your industry takes most of the criticism for the equine overpopulation problem. From where I stand, as a lifelong horsewoman with a small farm and a handful of horses, that is not my observation. Since the AQHA and the ApHC officially support horse slaughter, and encourage breeding as many mares as possible (meaning more money to them in the form of registration fees), they are viewed as the real bad guys in this issue. Unlike the AQHA, the JC does not support slaughter as a good thing, at least as far as I have heard.
As you said, the TB breeders do breed for a purpose, but again, overbreeding makes no sense from a business standpoint. I bought my first horse in 1972, so I can remember when horse prices were solid. A decent riding horse was expensive. These days…eh…you can pick up a great riding horse who is sound, not terribly old, and who has papers for very little money. I would live to see the horse industry strong again, but it’s not going to happen in my lifetime.
Whups! I meant to say that I would LIKE to see the horse industry strong again…
Hard to find direct quotes with LCC’s website being down, but here’s another website that quoted part of LCC’s:
While it doesn’t say “all” it makes it sound quite common.
What is horrifying to me is that it is a very well known horse trainer spreading misinformation in the link above. Stacy Westfall should know that it is biologically impossible to produce foals faster if you take a Thoroughbred mares foal away. Mares always come into heat immediately after giving birth and again a month later and so on. Having a nursing foal has no effect on this at all. You cannot breed more racehorses by using nurse mares to raise their foals. AI would have no effect either. All breeds of horses occasionally use nursemares. Their foals are not born to die. It is a gross exaggeration used to gain donations….
YES. This ^^. Exactly. They are advertising lies, and promoting for changes that don’t need changed. Natural, live cover, is one of the ONLY things keeping our numbers down. I don’t understand what idiot told them that all of the foals are put on nurse mares, but they are more than welcome to come visit the farm I live on – where all 85 mares are still with their foals – pre and post breeding!
Thank you for your posts and your tireless efforts to educate people about the industry. I would consider myself a newly minted racing fan. Knew some household names, rode my fair share of OTTBs, sure, but never set foot on a track until last year when I started volunteering for CANTER. Information like yours is what should be used to fill a blank slate, not the alarmist comments of rescue groups with an agenda. You’ve got street cred in my book 😉 (I also am impressed with all your information on the repro group, which I follow because it’s my goal to go back to school to become a repro vet, and I’d actually love to pick your brain about vet school, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)
I came across this piece via the PR and thought I recognized the name (because of Marilyn’s Guy). Sure enough…there is still defending of an industry that cripples and kills horses every single day on this blog. While those words I just uttered might not sit well with you, I can say the same regarding this – “They come from horse people [the questions about the industry]: people that should know better…but don’t.” I am one of those “horse people”, I imagine in your eyes, because I question this industry on nearly a daily basis. But here is where you make a false accusation…that I should know BETTER. No, I simply KNOW.
So I looked at your “barrage of questions” that are so offensive to you. 1), “Slaughter houses”. Are you denying TB racehorses go to slaughter? While you tire of hearing about the ills of this gambling industry, I, too, tire of the apologists wanting the spotlight of scrutiny directed elsewhere. Do I realize TB racehorses are not the only horses being butchered in slaughter houses?… of course I do! Does the slaughtering of thousands of QH’s negate the slaughtering of TB racehorses?…of course it doesn’t! It’s SO telling when racing supporters immediately exclaim “Well look at AQUA!” when challenged about the discarded TB’s with their racing plates still on found at the KB-attended auctions. Misdirection. Now. “Well other disciplines do, too, and they are the WORST offenders!” That would be like me screaming the comment “TB racehorses breakdown and die on the track so why don’t you worry about them?” on a blog about the ills in the TWH industry! Why would anyone do that? To misdirect. To minimize. The slaughter of ALL horses is real, and the slaughter includes TB racehorses. That’s not a lie, not a false accusation.
2), “[assumption} my retired racehorse was neglected on the track”. While I don’t know if YOUR retired racehorse was neglected on the track or not, I can tell you that many, many are. Because I’ve been doing this – rescuing TB racehorses off the track – for a very long time. I can point you to the pages and pages of exhibits that Jo Anne Normile and I provided to the 2008 Congressional hearing on the drugs and breakdowns in the TB racing industry. Not a lie, not a false accusation.
3), the “damn PETA video”. The only thing I will say about the “damn PETA video” is that the agony of Nehro was clearly evident. Yet Blasi curses at the defenseless horse standing – suffering – before him. Yes, that was damning, wasn’t it. And THAT suffering, of THAT horse, while being callously cursed at by THAT industry member, was not a lie.
4), and lastly, the “nurse mare industry”. This issue took the most space in your piece. I know very little about this aspect of the industry, so I do not speak to it. And truthfully, I have my hands full with the other “dirty secrets” of this business – the discarded horses. I’m just grateful there are organizations that address and assist the nurse mare foals. Regardless of if there are 30,000 foals or 300…those “300” are not a lie.
“Defending an industry that won’t defend itself”. Why is that? Because there IS no defending a multi-billion dollar gambling industry that killed a minimum of 1,000 horses in 2014…not a lie, not a false accusation. These 30-plus pages of horses’ names (http://horseracingwrongs.com/killed-in-action-2014/) have been verified via Equibase and FOIA requests – to name just two – and they are all dead. All of them in 2014 alone. And this list is not including those that were euthanized due to their racing injuries back at the farm or in a rescue…or those that 13 jurisdictions refused to identify or even claim…or those that were sent to slaughter. It is indefensible.
“There are 200,000 people who ‘like’ the Last Chance Corral. That is 200,000 people who will never go to the races…”. I hope you’re right. As a former racing fan, with an extensive “library” of recorded races to show for it, I shamefully admit it took me too long to be a voice for the racehorses enslaved in this industry. Nearly ten years of walking the shedrows every week for the 6-month long meet, and loading countless broken racehorses onto my own trailer after matching meat price, was more than enough to convince me that there is no defending this industry. And they know it.
The point to bringing up AQHA et al is not that they are “worse” but that they are actively pro-slaughter and working against us. Legislatures are far less likely to pass laws when there is controversy within an industry. We had every track and all the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen’s groups (including breeders) publicly against slaughter in Illinois, but it still took us four years to close down Cavel. Not only were we up against the meat industry, we had the state horse council claiming to represent “real horsemen” as opposed to us “elitists.”
On the nurse mare issue, it is a matter of hundreds not thousands. Nobody is going to take them seriously when they keep babbling on about AI and insurance, which have nothing to do with nurse mares. There are good nurse mare farms that do hand-raise and find homes for the foals. LCC needs to work with us to expose those who don’t, yet they won’t tell anyone where they are getting the foals. If they stop protecting the scum, farms can know who to avoid.
THANK YOU for so eloquently posting what I have been unsuccessfully saying to anyone who would listen for years. I feel like my words have fallen upon nothing but deaf ears. Hopefully yours will have farther reach!
I applaud your original post and 100% agree horse racing needs serious change. I have been training for 20 years at Monmouth Park, Delaware Park,PARX, and currently at Penn National. I’m certainly not here at Penn out of choice. My owner has all Pennsylvania breds and breeds his own so all of the horses I’ve trained for him have been “homebreds” and I’ve had them all from start to finish of there entire careers. I have been beyond blessed they have all found forever loving homes. I am not blind to the underbelly of this sport i love i see it everyday here when i look at the discusting neglect and conditions of some of the horses here. About 3 years ago i had a separate owner who i had several horses that ran here for me and another trainer at Monmouth. One filly in particular who was well bred an absolutely adorable but an absolute nightmare who was “dangerous” while training and thought nothing of trying to run though the outside rail. She wanted no part if being a racehorse and showed that on paper before i got her and while i had her. I couldn’t wait until i made her ineligible and ran out of starts because clearly this wasn’t her career. She was the most even kieled filly with the sweetest disposition imaginable. I WARNED the owner that when her career was over we needed to be VERY careful of who and where she would find a home. Her looks and personality SEVERELY masked her psychotic nature once a rider was on her back. She would most definitely end up at slaughter if we weren’t diligent. The owner ridicously took her to Monmouth where he had 10 races before she would become ineligible and swore “she’ll win down there”. I told him “good lick with that she wants NO part of being a racehorse”. She quickly ran her 10 races getting beat a football field each time. One day while talking about his other horses in training he said “oh yeah i gave Dutchess away today to a real nice girl at Monmouth”. I peppered him with who,what where, and how. I reminded him that he just couldn’t give her away to anyone and reamed him warning him she would end up at slaughter once she was ridden by her new owners. A month and a half later she ends up at New Holland the owner calls me in a panic. I LOST MY MIND on him telling him this would happen and i would find her immediately. I had her of that scumbag Christy Sheidy and read everything on the Internet about her i had a gut feeling she had her. She was famous for buying racehorse jacking up there price and holding them hostage knowing the last trainer of record would loose there stalls if a horse they trained ended up at slaughter. I wasn’t the last trainer of record but her trainer at Monmouth was but she was at slaughter and it was awful. I knew a friend of a friend who had told me a year before this bought his ponies from a kill buyer locally. I remembered when reading about christy she partnered with a guy named brian moore. I got both there #’s of the Internet and BLEW UP THERE PHONES. I told both of them in voice mails after Monmouth Park cofirmed christy rescue had her. I said to both christy and Brian in voice mails that i knew what they where about and they weren’t getting a dime more than the $500 they bought her for at auction and they need not waste there time trying to hold my feet to the fire. The FBI was already investigating christy at this point. When neither of them returned my calls. I drove to brian moore’s house later that afternoon and walks right up to his front door. Needless to say he wouldn’t answer and yes he was home. I can never unsee what I did at his house of horrors and pens and pens of horses. Finally a friend at the track who had dealt with christy called her. He told her it was a mistake to try and hustle,scam,or try and hold tbat filly hostage. If i was crazy enough to go to a kill buyers front door and demand that filly back she was going to end up with law enforcement much further firmly planted in her ass than they already where when i was done. She relented and i got the filly back the next day for $500 nit a penny more than she bought her for. Christy has now been shut down and is facing criminal charges and been issued HEAVY fines for her years if scumbaggery in the slaughter/rescue business. Turns out “Dutchess” had gine through 5 homes in the month and a half she was gone. While I obviously in NO way endorse,condone, or support slaughter. However the anti slaughter policy’s at racetracks both dont work and are unjustly unfair. Why should the last trainer of record loose there stalls and live hood for there entire life because a horse they at some point in the past trained? No one can GUARANTEE years down the road someone will do the wrong thing with a horse. I tracked down and spoke with every person that had Dutchess including the dispicable man who runs a riding school on Long Island who admitted he dumped her at New Holland. Why should that fall on her previous racetrack trainer? This has happened to trainer literally a few years after the horse has lefy there barn. It took years and HUNDREDS of victims of christy sheidy and AC4H Rrescue to be put out of business. Years she spent being a predictor in horse racing without consequence but a trainer can watch there entire career implode years later when a horse ends up at slaughter by the hands of someone else. Horse Racing is deeply flawed and this is a serious imperfection that only adds to it.
A footnote to my previous post. Now that christy sheidy is out of business. Kill buyer brian moore runs a “rescue”. His wife Jennifer admittedly states on the website brian is a kill buyer. All day everyday they play upon unsuspecting people’s emotions to rob people potentially selling them dangerous sickly horses. Jennifer “Hoffman” claims she works forbrian and doesn’t get paid. It is complete BS she is his wife not simply an employee. Thankfully people are starting to expose the unscrupulous tactics of who and what is really going on. Message boards are blowing up ovet “Moore Horse Rescue”. Guaranteed Christy Sheidy is slithering behind the scenes. The last thing these people care about is the welfare of horses.
I have been in the Industry for 40 plus years and am 3 rd generation trainer. I have watched horses being Dangerously handled…badly beaten and endorsed it as training. I stood up in the face of abuse and travesty. I LIVE in Illinois I expirienced the Slaughter plant and the Cesspool of lies and really heinous horse industry crimes we saw first hand. I am Not Animal Rights and I am Not an Advocate. I dont donate to organizations to be clear. I have witnessed gross negligence abuse and yes intentional destruction of this entire industry to keep breeding. Its not back yard breeders its the high ups. I have been in Congress and Railsplitter and rode FEI dressage and trained Walkers during the initial exposure of Big Lick. Tail docking…nerving….head tying….saddle tiebacks…..war bonnets and barbed wire bits. Ice witnessed it all! its the industry. that needed to stop beating solid color colts to death because in the 80s they Had to have color. Navicular is abuse. These animals dont deserve to suffer to show and ride. Im all over the Industry and I have Several trainers in our family who see all from every state. You want Change then follow the truth instead of fighting for more abuse! I dont have any misconceptions…..I personally ripped a woman out of her saddle for gouging a 3 yr old mare with her spurs until she bled everywhere. I watched her hit the dirt. I grabbed the filly and cleaned her wounds for the vet. She was a college grad and saying what your saying and I saved the filly from HER! Im sick of this being a contrite war of who knows what. Animal Rights were called into Illinois Only after the Residents had had enough You dont even know the facts in any part of OUR industry. We have been through enough. and we will stop Abuse of our ind iindustry.
Coltswestern….I’m not really sure why you have an issue with Carleigh. I actually don’t think you do. Who is fighting for more abuse? No one here.
She said the Industry is complacent. No its not. People are Fighting FOR the Industry. Its not about her its about the belief that no one is doing whats right anymore for our Industry to rebound. We are and will…..horse racing and every industry needs revamped and yes it takes outside oversight to change often. If we dont change nothing changes.
The thoroughbred industry has only itself to blame. Change came slowly to the racing industry and it still isn’t complete. When I first started buying tbreds at auction anderson slaughter in the early 1980’s I could buy them for about $50 to $150 dollars depending upon how baldly broken and used up they were. They came with racing plates and sweat marks from their last race. The industry didn’t treat their horses well. If you follow the jockey club committee notes you see a change starting in the early 2000’s when they realized that racing was competing in an increasingly growing pool of entertainment options. Racing was being hit by articles alleging abuse at tracks and by trainers and by the whole slaughter issue. In the official minutes of the committee meetings at the jockey club you can read their very frank conversations about how they need to take actions that will change how people feel about racing so as you sit and talk bout the industry you love and all of the great people look back 15 to 20 years and beyond. Then you will understand why racing has a bad name. I worked as an exercise rider in the early 70’s at a track that is now gone horses were horribly treated and Vanned off to the killers when they failed to,perform. Drug use was rampant and horses routinely ran hurt. It has taken along time to reform this business. And the reform still has a ways to go. As an aside any time industry is used in relationship to animals , the animals don’t come out on the good side. Trust once broken is very hard to restore. The tbred industry never had the trust of the public. So you shouldn’t be surprised by the reactions now.