You might be dissatisfied in the outcome of the Kentucky Derby, but possibly you should more than happy that it occurred.
Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal

Horse racing is inherently risky. With thousand-pound animals moving through thick traffic on spindly legs at accelerate to 40 miles per hour, injuries are unavoidable and regularly deadly.

There is no surviving the slaughterhouse, however. Much as the continuing carnage at Santa Anita has actually required racing to challenge its intrinsic dangers, shipping undesirable racehorses across U.S. borders to be killed for their meat is a common practice tough to rationalize and unusually tough to swallow.

The HBO “Real Sports” exposĂ© that aired Tuesday night stated little that hasn’t already been said about the state of an industry under siege from prosecutors, political leaders and animal rights activists. Yet in recycling graphic slaughterhouse video from 2008, and in showing a filly being carried off to meet her doom, reporter Bernard Goldberg lit up racing’s darkest, most dangerous dynamic.

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Not to lessen racetrack deaths, but for every pureblood euthanized following a racing injury, lots more are shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico. While the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database showed 493 race-related fatalities in 2018, quotes of U.S. thoroughbreds eliminated yearly for food regularly run into five figures.

A 2012 study of U.S. Department of Farming data by the Wild for Life Foundation computed that more than 160,000 thoroughbreds were slaughtered between 2004 and 2010, an overall equivalent to 70 percent of the U.S. foal crop during the very same duration. More current figures released by the Equine Well-being Alliance are not broken down by type, but reveal horse slaughter increased another 10%in the seven-year period in between 2011-2017

The core problem is that when a racehorse ceases to be an asset– on the track or in the breeding shed– it becomes a costly liability. Susan Brown, program manager for Second Stride, a horse rescue nonprofit with farms in Possibility and Pleasureville, says it costs $900 monthly to look after a horse, not counting veterinary or farrier costs. Karen Gustin, executive director of the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, says her Nicholasville operation is constantly at capability with “50 ish” horses, and another 15-20 on the waiting list.

” I understand in Kentucky there could probably be five or 6 of our sort of centers that would be full all the time,” Gustin stated. “It never ever slows down.”

Supply, invariably, goes beyond demand. There are only many affluent horse-lovers looking for a cost effective install for path riding, barrel racing or dressage, and lots of thousands of new horses born each year.

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Excess stock is the bane of any company, and this is especially true in those businesses where the inventory need to be fed along with kept. The Jockey Club approximates last year’s foal crop will eventually include about 19,925 signed up thoroughbreds.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation runs 18 facilities across the nation, seven of them connected with “2nd opportunity” farms such as Lexington’s minimum-security Blackburn Correctional Complex, however their cumulative impact leaves a large unmet requirement.

Since a racehorse might live 15 to 20 years beyond its competitive profession, retirement options can be quite minimal. Patrick Battuello, who runs the web site and served as among the main sources for the HBO report, states he would prefer unwanted horses be euthanized rather than butchered. Strangely enough, a 2014 Colorado State University research study argued for maintaining horse slaughterhouses on humanitarian premises.

” The vast bulk of market individuals interviewed thought that general horse welfare would reduce if the alternative for massacre was prohibited in the U.S.,” it stated, citing the unattractive options of desertion and overlook and the prospect of hunger.

” There is a public mistaken belief that most horses cost lower end auctions are sold to the massacre plants,” the authors wrote. “This study discovered that massacre plants were purchasing only those horses that were not being purchased as practical working animals. The well-being problems of these lower end horses happen prior to their arrival at the massacre plant. Horses at the slaughter plants remained in considerably poorer health than the horses seen at the auction houses, and the euthanasia of these animals improves their well-being by reducing prolonged suffering.”

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Such nuanced distinctions were hard to make during the HBO broadcast, which depicted the cruelty of the slaughterhouse with horses being rendered unconscious by being struck on the head with a captive bolt, then suspended, cut open and bled to death.

On some level, the carnivores amongst us may recognize some hypocrisy in challenging horses facing the exact same fate as the cows and pigs we consume. Still, that acknowledgment does not relieve racing of the expectation that horses be dealt with more like animals than like meals. That 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand was eventually processed for pet food in Japan reflects cultural distinctions that stay hard for numerous Americans to fix up.

” It surprises me that the kill pen service is so big; that it can do so well,” Brown stated. “However as quickly as they stop generating income, (horses) are susceptible to that.”

In 2015, Brown learned that a horse adopted from her farm had actually been spotted in a kill pen in South Carolina. She without delay drove to the rescue, and consequently discovered the horse a new house.

She understands, however, that she can’t conserve them all.

” It is a costly thing,” she stated, “however in a state where we have such a financial reliance on them, it’s nice to give back to them.”

Tim Sullivan: 502-582-4650, [email protected]; Twitter: @TimSullivan714 Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal. com/tims