Stop the commercial slaughter of all North American Thoroughbred horses, that’s the “stretch” goal. Impossible? Maybe, probably, but that’s the target. In the words of legendary General Electric, Inc. Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, “If you know how to get there, it’s not a stretch target.”
Horse Racing Business will soon begin an in-depth three-part series on horse rescue, aftercare, and commercial slaughter. The publication dates are noon eastern time on September 1, 8, and 15, 2016. A caveat: The articles are lengthy, data-driven, and thorough, as short journalistic-type anecdotal fluff pieces won’t do justice to the topic. Following publication of the three-part series, three more notes on important and debatable aftercare subjects will appear on September 22, 29, and October 6.
The analyses are derived from my recent original research with aftercare facilities and from reliable sources of secondary data like the United States Department of Agriculture. To my knowledge, these are the most research-based and unvarnished articles ever published on aftercare and horse slaughter in the North American Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry. I am not beholden to horse-racing interests and therefore can provide uncensored findings and recommendations without spin or regard for whose feelings might be hurt.
The intent is to be as objective and balanced as possible and to rely on facts and data rather than opinion. The final article contains specific and no doubt controversial recommendations on how the Thoroughbred industry can institute a stable funding mechanism to take care of many more retired and cast-off horses.
In researching aftercare and horse slaughter, I found that many laudable people in horse racing and breeding care deeply about and provide for their retired horses. However, to many racing insiders, the nagging problems of horse slaughter and insufficient funds for aftercare are like kyrptonite to Superman–radioactive and to be avoided. One well-known horse owner was “too busy” to discuss the subjects with me. A prominent farm owner I talked with asked not to have his name mentioned. In one instance, a racehorse owner and aftercare advocate lobbied to suppress my calculations pertaining to the number of U. S. Thoroughbreds slaughtered annually.
In stark contrast, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, The Jockey Club, and individuals in the horse racing cohort bent over backwards to provide information and insights. Similarly, with one exception, the unsung heroes operating aftercare facilities were forthcoming with information and perspectives.
In sum, there is an undercurrent of trepidation in the horse racing industry about the unsavory business of horse slaughter. This cognitive dissonance (love racing, hate slaughter), of course, can provoke additional constructive action.
In collecting information, I sensed that the industry as a whole believes it is making significant progress on providing for aftercare. It is, but the bulk of the work remains to be done. At least as many and probably more U. S. Thoroughbreds will likely die in Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses in 2016 alone than all the horses the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance affiliates have been able to save or euthanize since TAA’s founding in 2012.
Horse slaughter in particular is an emotional topic that some and perhaps many in the Thoroughbred industry are in denial about or want to just go away. Yet slaughter has both moral and financial implications for racing that cannot or should not be ignored.
Racing is badly in need of a reasoned, vigorous, frank, and public discussion or debate on retired and unwanted horses. Its traditional modus operandi for funding aftercare is woefully lacking and needs to be disrupted and supplemented. Along with medication abuses and racing/training fatalities, horse slaughter is racing’s Achilles’ heel in the public eye.
An influential person in horse racing, who could make a difference, cynically or realistically offered that the racing industry is too backward, too splintered, and too thrifty to come together on a well-funded solution to horse slaughter. I strongly disagree.
I welcome anyone to critique the content in my articles. Send me an email. Tell me where I am correct or in error. The way to solve monumental problems is to bring to bear diverse viewpoints, as no one is always right or has all the answers.
Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business