The one that got away

I lost a horse once.  It was both heartbreaking, devastating, and alarming – but more importantly, I had absolutely no idea how to solve the problem.  He was gone from the equine stratosphere, and no amount of internet or Facebook searches led me to his re-discovery.  To compound my grief and disparity, I was tightly linked to his breeder, his race owner, and his trainer.  I knew his every connection, and had great respect for each.  And yet I knew that if he did resurface, and resurfaced in a less than ideal location, it would be each of them that would catch the heat – not me. More importantly, not the people that put him directly there.

Natty came into my life as I was managing Hinkle Farms.  He had been bred by the farm, and they had kept him after he was scratched from the sales at Keeneland due an injury.  He was placed in training with someone who I respected immensely – Wayne Mackey, at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, KY.  It was only a 15 minute drive from my house to the track, and I would occasionally go to watch him work – hoping for the best, but witnessing the worst.  While Natty was stunning – standing at 16.2, with a strong shoulder and great mind, but he was neither fierce nor fast – and Wayne quickly alerted the farm to this fact.  Being the amazing horsemen that he is, he acknowledged that maybe Natty would be best suited for another discipline. One that possibly required the speed of a mini van, instead of the Porsche that we had hoped for.

Natty 8

Natty’s first day post-racing

He came home to the farm, his racing plates were pulled, and I convinced the owners of the farm to let me attempt to retrain him for a second career.  I had never retrained a thoroughbred up to this point, and had little to no clue of what I was doing.  I hadn’t ridden or competed a horse consistently in years, and yet I dusted off my saddle, my helmet, and my half chaps and swung on.

Natty 7

How could you not fall in love with this?

But surprisingly, Natty was a willing pupil, and I quickly fell back into the routine of riding.  At the end of a rough day, I would throw my Crosby onto this leggy 3 year old, strap on my spurs, and hack throughout the 1200 acre farm that he was foaled out on.  We would amble up and down hills, walking at times and galloping at others, and just take in the scenery.  And it became evident just how nice of a horse he truly was.  He was green but willing, contemplative but considerate, and athletic yet solid.

Natty 6

I would come home at the end of my ride and collapse into my couch.  My boyfriend would stare at me – startled by this new transition in my life.  He had thought when he started dating me that he had won the jackpot.  A horse girl with no horse.  A girlfriend who could help him turn out yearlings or foal a mare, but who’s weekends could be spent not at the dusty fairgrounds of a horse show.  A woman who could diagnose an illness or assess a lameness, but who smelled of roses instead of MTG.  And yet I was not. What he thought of as the perfect girl was actually the most imperfect of them all.  I would never again be that arm candy, or that trophy wife.  How could  I be?  I was, yet again, horse obsessed.

Natty 10

Hacking through the farm.

I found my heart and soul in that horse.  Like a secret that had been kept locked up for many years, my true self was finally released.  I had given my event horse away as a last attempt to resurrect a relationship with my father, only to have my father succumb to his battle with cancer, leaving me both horseless and without the strength or happiness that had previously consumed my life.

And yet, with each gallop, each fence, and each stride on Natty, my soul rebalanced.  I got to jump my first XC fence in nearly 8 years.  I went to my first horse show in as many. And more importantly – I remembered that these creatures and this sport were here for one reason and one reason only – FUN.  To bring joy.  To force smiles. To laugh.

Natty 3

Smiles

But I hesitated.  For some reason, one that I still don’t fully understand, I placed Natty for sale.  I hadn’t owned a horse for almost a decade, and was unsure of how to provide one an adequate home.  I didn’t think that the Hinkle family would allow me to keep him on the farm for the rest of his life.  I knew that with my job as a farm manager, showing and riding consistently would be nearly impossible to do.  I was scared of the funds that it would take to properly care for this horse.  I was petrified of the way my lifestyle would change.  And I thought he deserved more…so I sacrificed my heart, and went with my brain – and I sold him.

I thought I had found Natty a permanent home.  The young woman seemed like a great match, he would stay local where I could keep an eye on him, and I made sure to dictate that I would be offered first right of refusal if it were to ever not work out.  I loaded him up onto their trailer, gave him one final hug, walked back to my truck and dissolved into tears.

Years went by where I searched daily for Facebook updates and new statuses posted.  I was excited to see them run their first mini event, or to drive past the farm where he was boarded and find him grazing in the field.  We shared a farrier, and I desperately asked for any update that he could offer when he came to shoe my horses. And I shared their photos and bragged of his endeavors whenever I could.

But as is life, she decided to move away from riding, and he was turned out.  He was placed for sale, but at a price that I was assured would land him into good hands.  But no one bit the bait, and on abated breath, I watched as his price dropped lower and lower and lower.  I begged friends to go see him, and advertised him to anyone who was willing to listen. The last time I reached out to the owners, they refused my participation, and I hung up the phone and hung my head, allowing this horse to dissolve me into tears for the second time.

And then he disappeared.  His ad was marked as sold, and I never saw a photo of him again.

Natty 9

For a few years now, I have attempted to find Natty.  I searched the local auctions at first, desperate to see if he had landed there.  And then I attempted to locate him through internet horse sales sites – like EquineNow and DreamHorse. I searched for him in the TIP database. I re-entered him in my VirtualStable, fearing that he might even end up back on the track – being young and by War Front.  And I never found him.

That is, until a few weeks ago.  I was at a local jumper show and ran into the trainer that his previous owner had ridden with.  I hesitantly inquired into whether she knew of his whereabouts, and she smiled and said that a young girl in Michigan had bought him. That he had passed the vetting with flying colors, and was now more of a pasture ornament than show horse, but that he was thriving.  And I exhaled.  I thanked her for the information, walked back to my truck, and cried a new set of tears – these now of joy and relief rather than sadness.

Natty 12

I am one of the  lucky ones.  I found mine, and more importantly, he was safe. Had I learned the opposite – I would have been devastated.  Of course for myself, but more importantly, for the damage that his second, and third, and fourth owner would have done on the reputation of his first.  Had he ended up at an auction, it would have not been Hinkle Farms, or Wayne Mackey’s, fault, for they had done right by the horse.  They had retired him as a sane and sound individual, placed him into my hands to secure a second career, and wished him well.

But that is exactly who would have gotten the blame.  Just this week, a horse named Financial Mogul was found at New Holland.  Through a series of unfortunate events, he ultimately was euthanized by the caregiver whom had bought him from the supposed kill buyers.  He hasn’t raced in almost a year, and was no longer in the care of his breeder, trainer, or race owner, and yet due to dollar signs – these are the very people who are being attacked.

No one looks for answers from the most recent owner – the person who actively dropped the horse off at the auction grounds.  No one asks the liaison to the kill buyers why they spent $500-1,000 more dollars on these “well bred” thoroughbreds than they would on the others.  No one asks the supposed “rescues” where the funds truly go to secure these horses.  But everyone asks the breeders, the trainers, and the race owners for these very facts.

Why was the horse bred?  Why did he sell for $200,000?  Why was he placed in the hands of that trainer?  Why wasn’t he retired until he was 6?  Who thought it would be a good idea to support racing?  Why are you involved?  Where is the money that this horse “won” you over 12 months ago?  Who are you?

If I replace Financial Mogul’s name with Natural Bridge, I could answer all of those questions for you.  And that is something that I feared having to do every day for years.  This is the risk that I take by being the liaison between the good guys of the thoroughbred industry and the sport horse world.  Every time I retrain and sell a horse, I am risking their reputation moreso than my own.  I am just a little fish in a big pond.  No one is coming after me.  But they are coming after my friends.  My employers.  My industry.

And here are the answers.  These horses are bred with a purpose.  Their genetics are selected specifically to create stamina, strength, and stability.  They sell for the high amounts of money that are directly proportionate to these decisions, as well as the amazing care that they receive for those first 18 months of their lives.  They are placed into the most capable hands available to secure the highest success rate – which is based on both ability and well as soundness. They are retired at a specific age based on that ability.  Their soundness. Their desire.  And this money that they secure then gets handed to the farriers, veterinarians, farm managers, stallion owners, as well as the track employees who serve the food, cater the weddings, and mow the lawns.  It is cyclical, and it is great.

Natty 1

And who am I?

 I am just a girl trying to build a bridge between these amazing people and the rest of the world.  One horse at a time, one day at a time.

I am so happy that I found Natty, or at least that I know that he is safe.  Not just for myself, but for the amazing people who trusted me to act on their behalf.  This horse who has caused me so many tears of joy, of fear, of relief, and of sadness.  But I fully acknowledge that this happiness is based entirely on luck.  I could be that person.  Natty could be Financial Mogul.  I could be defending my industry, my actions, and my horse from an entirely differently angle.

So here are the questions I want answered.  Who are these rescues that berate horse racing every day?  Why do they search for these horses?  Why do they spend more money on a thoroughbred at an auction than they would another breed?  Why do they need GoFundMe’s to secure funds?  Where does the money raised go?  How do they choose which horses need saved and which don’t?  Is it based on potential ability and soundness, or potential connections to drain funds from?

And more importantly, how did this once great racehorse end up at an auction house filled with kill-buyers? Who put him there?

I am so saddened by the loss of Financial Mogul.  My heart breaks, acknowledging that we could just as easily replace his name with Natural Bridge.  A good horse that was raised by great people is gone, and this is devastating to all of us that love horses. That love the thoroughbred.  Even those of us that just love racing.

But what is more devastating – both to the industry, as well as the legacy of this great horse – is by penalizing and punishing the wrong hands.  Letting the truly corrupt people walk, and targeting the innocent.  Demonizing the very industry which allowed this horse to thrive, that retired him and placed him into a second career, and yet defending the other industry – the one that hasn’t answered any of these important questions.

So I ask you – can you answer these questions? Can you point the fingers in the truly guilty direction?

And I plead with you – the next time one of these horses ends up in this same predicament – don’t throw rocks at glass houses.  Don’t penalize the people who did right by the horse. Don’t target the me’s of this world.  The good guy. The one’s who are just trying to do whats right for these horses – one thoroughbred at a time.

Natty 11

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18 Comments on “The one that got away

  1. Thank you, I too rail against those that have no understanding of the love that the racing industry has for their horses, the care, the attention, yes there are bad actors, but they are everywhere. I breed, I sell, I track down my horses and others as well so that I can offer them a new direction like you. I love racing, I love the thoroughbred heart. how many of the rescue people have known a race horse that even when retired rails against the inactivity of retirement, that weaves and walks the stall, that runs the fence line of a beautiful pasture because deep in their hearts they long to run, that would rather starve than be left to their own devices. I have, I bet you have too. I have “found” my horses, some in perfect shape, others fallen through the claiming ranks and, well, languishing. But their current owners and trainers welcome my call and request to take them “home”. Financial Mogul had long standing arthritic issues that the vets declared life ending. He ran a year ago, and could then run no more. But he ran and won on those arthritic joints for the joy and love of it, of this I am sure. I get that this is hard for some to understand, but have they worked the backstretch? Have they wrapped and hosed and poulticed these creatures of such great heart who all they want to do is feel the wind in their manes and blow by another as they race for the finish…..the same can be found in any equine discipline, dressage horses with hocks that on x-ray would shock, the jumper with navicular from the trauma of landing over and over again from the height of the fences he loves to navigate, the sprains, strains and fractures that all these horses come back from with care because of their will and heart. Glass houses indeed! Thank you again.

  2. I think you make some excellent points and they should be addressed. However to say the sport of horse racing, which I have been involved with on many levels is “great” and full of all these “wonderful” people is far from accurate. The vast majority of owners/trainers and breeders in this sport are not in any way shape or form responsible, loving or diligent about the welfare of their horses. You can look at the numbers and they do not lie. How many TB’s are bred, raced and then retired sound and to a safe environment, it is a very small percentage. Are there good people, yes indeed, but in no way are they the majority. I can go further and say that most states with horse racing have no adequate or even existent retirement programs in place, why? Because the horsemen in those states don’t want them. New York established a Retirement program about 3 years ago, did Financial Mogul go into that program? If yes how did this happen, if NO why not? Now in regards to Financial Mogul, it is very clear that he fell through some cracks after his racing career was over, but the question I ask is he had severe injuries, many of them clearly old and at the point of non-repair. Do we all really think that happened after he retired from racing? Let’s look at his last two race charts and his time off before he disappeared, I think we can hazard a pretty good guess that it is very likely that many if not all of these injuries were sustained while racing/training. The entire way in which this horse was handled and treated is a disgrace, yes for ALL involved.

    • DH,

      You do know that Lisa Molloy with Re-Run offered this horse a home-correct? And absolutely no one knows if this horse was lame, sound, or pasture sound when he retired from racing. What we do know is that no one has even released the vet work that was done, nor were we told who dumped him.

      As for the amount of horses who are unwanted, I can not respond to that. Because every single farm I have been affiliated with, or have known, has done right by their horses….and that’s a lot of farms.

      • If an owner/trainer can find a horse a horse, why should they send the horse to a retirement program and take up space that can help another horse? Just because the program is there doesn’t mean that every single person should use it.

        Also, please provide a source for this stat because I highly doubt it is true. “How many TB’s are bred, raced and then retired sound and to a safe environment, it is a very small percentage.”

        The majority of racing people try to do right by their horses. Sure, there are some bad eggs but they aren’t the majority and the good guys shouldn’t get blamed when we don’t know WHO dropped the horse off. If you’ve been involved in horse racing at many different levels, you should know how great the people in this industry are as a whole. They are the people that will feed your animals when you are in the hospital and then put together a fund raiser to help you pay off those hospital bills or help find a home for the horses if you can no longer race them. It sounds like you’ve dealt with one or two bad apples and want to label the whole industry as being that way when it is neither fair or true.

  3. Sadly I don’t think we will ever know the whole story. I don’t trust the person that pulled him, supposedly vetted him and subsequently had him euth’d. I guess it is better than a truck ride to Canada. I know many people stepped up for him. I hate those that bash the TB industry. there are many that love their charges, whether they bred them or trained them or galloped them.

    We lost a horse not long ago to peritonitis post colic surgery. while standing at the vet hospital visiting the horse, a trailer pulled up and left a tall strapping young TB in a medical paddock. One of the vets pulled me aside, knowing we run a sanctuary, and asked if we would take him. I gave him a once over and said we would give him a spot. As I walked back in the clinic the interns were prepping to euth him. I could not in good conscience walk away from that big fella. Long story short, he lives with us now. He was a precocious fast sprinter that showed promise running at Belmont, saratoga. claimed a few times and ultimately ended up with Gary Contessa. When I contacted him via FB he fondly remembered the horse and was happy to hear he was well and had found a good spot with us. This horse was literally minutes away from being euth’d. Fate brought us there, that day and that moment. We lost our horse but we saved a life. We have dealt with lots of TBs at our sanctuary, every single one had connections that cared about them,

    Stop bashing the industry. the fault lies with the person that consigned him to New Holland auction, not the industry. Every sport takes its toll. I don’t know why racing is singled out so much???

    • Racing is singled out because it’s high profile and easy to point fingers at. The public doesn’t care too much one way or another whose high-money-overbred warmblood gets doped up and collapses at home, or a horse running around on feet that are burning up with navicular disease who quietly disappears from the training barn when they can’t hack it any more. It just never makes its way into public attention.

      I agree with so many things said in this post — and many of your posts, honestly. It would be great to get some more transparency about the people who leave horses at auction. I really hate when I see things like “he’s too cute to go to auction” or “too well bred to go to slaughter.” Breeding and cuteness don’t qualify one horse any more than another for rescue (though obviously they do influence their re-homeability after rescue). And the money? Well, I help run an OTTB retraining nonprofit and our money goes into hay and shoes, but then again we’ve never needed to run a go fund me to pay for it.

  4. I have 3 OTTBs and know that if I hadn’t taken two of them–they would have been on the wrong truck at some point due to lameness, and temperament; which in fact amounted to people who didn’t know any better and were not prepared to own TBs. As for the “rescuers”–of which I am one, we donate to 501c organizations AND people we feel are doing right by these horses. Where does the money got–to cover the cost of transport, quarantine (since most are sick), vet bills, and the outrageous “bail” prices the greedy KB’s demand. Yes, some rescuers go over the top berating the racing industry, not knowing that a horse may be there after a second or third owner. But most just want to save the horses. Why do they pick TB’s to rescue or focus on? Probably for the same reason I do–I love the breed and want to do what I can for the horses, lovely amazing creatures just like mine, in a bad situation. And though there are many trainers/owners/breeders that do right by there horses when they retire, there are a large number that do not. Just take a look at the weekly postings of OTTBs, still in racing plates, 3, 4, and maybe 5 in the killpens: Bastrop, Stanley Bros, Kaufman, to name a few. In the end, we all must work together to do the best we can for what is right. You were lucky to find your horse safe. I wish that were the story more often.

  5. I wish people would realize that racing is held in a very pubic light and that everyone involved is aware of that. I’ve been at tracks all over the west, from the best to the smallest and across the board is a passion for good horsemanship. Yes there are some barns whose practices I’m not a fan of, but even they are still excited to find good homes for their horses post racing. There are equine sports that are not in such public light that also injure horses and have to find ways to deal with that. I don’t see people railing on western barns breaking two year olds down loping endless circles and sliding to stops. I don’t see people complaining about the farms in Europe that start with 300 yearlings and only have 70 suitable competition horses by the time they are 5 or 6. I wish that every faucet of the equine world could have a constructively critical light shown on it. It would encourage positive change, instead of hating on an industry people should offer ideas for change. I guess what I’m saying with all that is thank you again for a well written piece!

  6. I suppose the reason racing is “picked on” is the fact that by tattoos thoroughbreds are easily traced while the average auction horse cannot.
    I am not completely against racing, but the supply of ex racehorses by far exceeds the demand. It is difficult to not get angry when 3 yo thoroughbreds show up at the killpens with race plates on…

  7. Well even though I qualified my statement to Carleigh indicating that I agree with the fact that there are many problems with the story of Financial Mogul and also stated that there are good people in racing my message clearly was not received. I understand Rerun tried to get the horse, as they should have, I have supported Rerun financially for many years and will continue to do so. My point is best stated again by repeating your very own words. ” AS for the amount of horses that are unwanted” . When exactly did they become unwanted. They were wanted when bred, wanted when in the sales ring, wanted when winning purse money at the track. Hmm I guess they became unwanted when all of the people like the people replying to your post, stopped making money on the horse. That is the problem, pure and simple this industry is extremely hard to make financially viable for most owners and breeders involved. There are too many tracks and too many horses and when they are done being financially viable many in the industry dispose of them, whether it be to a low level claiming race or the slaughter truck, or euthanasia at the track. Until racing puts as much effort into funding, caring for and solving the problem of it’s “unwanted horses” as it does in hiding and covering up the problem, the Financial Mogul’s will continue to suffer.

    • As it goes in every discipline. It is more evident in racing bc of the pure economics. They perform or they are unwanted in a lot of cases. The trainers need to keep stalls, they need entered runners to do that. Horses can’t just hang out at the track and take up space. The comment about tattoos is valid. We can track a TB unlike most horses we find at auction. There is no easy answer. I do agree racing has an image problem and they can help solve that by creating strong aftercare programs and I don’t mean the TRF trying to keep TBs for negligible amounts of $ while pawning them off on farms to pay the bills.

  8. this “interest” in the fate of ex racehorses by owners and trainers is relatively recent. You can follow the meeting minutes of the Jockey Club executive board and you will see that following some rather pointed NYT articles from several years ago the industry decided to get with the program and attempt to do better by these horses as the industry realized that they were competing for a ever broadening pool of entertainment and that if they wanted to maintain a share of it they couldn’t be seen as abusive to animals. I started buying Tbreds at New Holland in the early 80’s. I could pick them up for $50 or maybe $75 per horse.sometimes for as little as $25 fresh from the track. they were there by the hundreds. Tbreds make up a good percentage of those horses that end up riding the one way truck to hell. (QHs make up more numbers- AQHA must be so proud). I bought these horses at NH to rehab into hunters and jumpers and many i bought to euthanize on the spot because they were in such bad shape. While racing has improved in its approach to these horses they have a long way to go. Too many tbreds are still ending up on the truck. I have seen the great “game” played over and over where the trainer/owner “gives” the horse to someone for a second career only to have the horse show up 30 or 60 days later in the pen. same trainers/owners.. and they profess “surprise” each time. Anytime “industry” is associated with animals the animals lose. Yes these horses are bred to be running machines. We breed them, we need to ensure that they are cared for. I have sold all of my horses with a money back guarantee and I have always made good on that committment- even when they were returned in less than good condition i.e. lame. and on occasion I have bought them back from an owner once or twice removed from the original owner. Yes racing has a bad name. they earned it. now the need to show that they are an industry that cares about their animals. across the board. it is like trust, once broken it is very hard to reestablish. unfortunately as long as it is all about money, and it is all about money, it is highly unlikely that the industry will raise itself up out of the ditch. It is far more likely that the industry will eventually go under as less and less people are interested in racing. numbers are down, money is down and things get more desperate. I love tbreds, heart and soul. hands down the best horses i have ever owned.

    now let me answer your questions :
    Who are these rescues that berate horse racing every day? – it depends.. many of the rescues have had long time experience with racing and like me have a hard time coming up with a good word to say because I’ve seen it for too many years (40+ but who is counting?) and the abuse has sickened and scarred me.

    Why do they search for these horses? l look for tbreds because I love the breed. maybe they do too. maybe like the Morgan people or the Standardbred people they look for horses that they know and love. Should they not look for them? would you rather I not look for tbreds so that they can “fall through the cracks?” is that what you want?

    Why do they spend more money on a thoroughbred at an auction than they would another breed? again it depends.. I will always spend what it takes to save a tbred at auction I love the breed and I feel compelled to help a horse that has tried its best in an industry with very few winners, falls short and ends up here. Also tbreds are athletic and it is often much easier to rehome an athletic tbred- there are alot of people who event etc who would like such an animal. And again I ask.. should we not spend what it takes? should we turn our back and let them “fall through the cracks” what kind of questions are you asking? you sound as if you are annoyed that people would actively try to save these horses that have been discarded.

    Why do they need GoFundMe’s to secure funds? I can’t speak to that. Not all rescues need GoFundMe’s to save a horse. there are too many horses being shipped each day and I think what happens is that people get in over their heads and try to save them all. It hurts when you watch one load and ship when you’ve tried your best to save it. It really hurts. Take a trip to New Holland- go several times.. watch them load and then come back and ask these questions.. maybe the questions you ask might be different.

    Where does the money raised go? if you want to know- ask them. as a donor you have the right to know what happens to the funds you are offering. you are attempting to paint everyone involved in rescue with the same brush. funny because you are complaining about the same thing – all of racing is being painted the same way.

    How do they choose which horses need saved and which don’t? again- ask them. I have saved horses that were lame – some rehabbed, some became pasture companions and some had to be put down. It is a hard decision to choose which horse to save and which to let go. it makes me sick every time. every time.
    Is it based on potential ability and soundness, or potential connections to drain funds from? again ask those who are involved with the rescuing. sometimes a horse just speaks to you and you buy it for no other reason that a look or a kind eye or a gesture…I’ve had horses put their heads on my shoulders and that’s it.. into my truck they go.

    You are buy pointing fingers trying no doubt to deflect criticisms from the racing industry and to justify your way of life. People have the most amazing ability to justify their actions. but remember when you are pointing fingers.. one is always pointing back at you. Racing has done this to themselves. it is up to them to take the actions necessary to earn trust and a good reputation.

  9. For every good person in racing, there is a bad person, believe it. Not every breeder/owner/trainer cares what happens to their horses after the racing career is done. I’ve worked in the industry, for big trainers and small trainers, and on breeding farms. I’ve seen the good and the bad. Sometimes the ire at the people who let the horse fall through the cracks is warranted because those people *are* the owners, trainers, or breeders.

    My last rescue TB was thrown in a field with a bunch of other horses after another lackluster start by the trainer, with the owner knowing. This horse didn’t know how to be a horse, didnt know how to establish himself in the pecking order to get to eat hay, was not fed otherwise in a winter pasture and nearly starved right under the nose of the distinctly uncaring trainer while still wearing his racing plates. Three horses died suddenly in this trainer’s “care” in a six month period, btw.

    I took the horse on, the trainer and owner didn’t care who I was, since they had been unable to sell the horse, they were happy to give him away so they didn’t have to pay board anymore. They didn’t ask me any questions or vet me out. I asked about the horse,and pretty much he was mine. They refused to give me any papers or Coggins. I rehabbed him and restarted his training as a riding horse and he ended up going to live with my best friend. This is one horse that had a happy ending, despite the bad people who had him, but how many others that went through this guy’s hands did? I doubt many…

  10. If a horse busted his ass for humans and earned so much money for them then maybe those wonderful caring breeders and owners should put aside 1/2 of those earnings to ensure the horse is cared for post-career. Just a thought. Yes it costs money to breed, train, etc. and those people get paid for their time and they need big fancy dinners and whatnot. But NOT a single one of the dollars that went into those triple digit earnings would be possible without the horse, a living being, who busted his ass for every one of the people who got paid and left nothing behind to ensure his health and survival. No doubt that there are people who cared about him very much. But, maybe the industry should consider that when you earn money off the sweat and strain of an animal, that the animal should certainly be entitled to that money. Consider putting 50% of all earnings put into a trust for the horse, to be used to place the retired horse into a sanctuary where he can live out his days as a horse. After all, he earned it. If you’re proactive about it, then there doesn’t have to be so many tears later on.

    • I thank you for this comment, but it is quite amusing how that wouldn’t work for this case. Natty never sold for a dime, and he never ran. So in your scenario, he would have $0 in retirement in funds. Instead, his Breeders offered him a second chance at a new career and found him that. The second career was the home that abandoned him, not his race owners.

      • I was not talking about Natty. Natty is not the only horse in the world. How many money earners do you think have been found in kill pens? Or how about the $200,000 earner who apparently ran his last race on horribly painful arthritic joints “for the love of it”… I’m sorry, but the horse is trained to run or get beat on the ass with a whip. And most of them carrying weight at full speeds before their joints are even fully matured. I personally have prepared young thoroughbred yearlings only to see them shipped off to begin training with a rider at only 18 months old so they are ready to race at 2 years (which is immature, no matter the breed). All I’m saying is that if people are going to do this to animals and say that they love them, then when they do earn money, why does it go into fancy dinners instead of toward the horse’s long-term care and health? If you’re a breeder/owner who is not allowing the horse to benefit from what he earned by his sweat and stress and now failing health as a result, then don’t cry about the horse ending up in a kill pen or sanctuary who has to set up a GoFundMe account so that people who actually DO care about the animal put their own money up for him since the prior owner used him up, kept the earnings, and send the horse on down the line.

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