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Thoroughbreds: From Elite to Meat

Posted by at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)


278-cominghome31_jpg-278x228There’s no question that four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw is a champion, but, vested interest aside, why is he talking up an industry in which even winners are losers: horse racing? Footballers can retire with money in the bank, but this year ten thousand castoff athletes who are thoroughbred racehorses will meet their end with a bolt to the brain this year alone. But first, they will have to travel in cramped tractor-trailers, all the way to Mexico or Canada, before they get the chop. For horses, who are high-strung and nervous to begin with, the stress of “killer” auctions and the journey to slaughter is a nightmare.

A few weeks ago, a PETA undercover investigator filmed inside the breeding barns at one of the world’s most expensive thoroughbred breeding facilities. We documented a factory assembly-line regimen in which stallions “service” more than 100 mares each in a single breeding season. Nearly 25,000 thoroughbred foals will be churned out of those breeding barns this year alone. Given that only about 20 horses will run in the Kentucky Derby, where does that leave the rest?

The dark, dingy barns like those at Sugarcreek Livestock Auction in Ohio, provide a snapshot of what befalls the hapless losers. PETA undercover investigators who were there two weeks ago found lots of discarded horses being sold for slaughter, including a thoroughbred mare named Coming Home. She is the granddaughter of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and cousin to Eight Belles, the mare who suffered a catastrophic breakdown during the 2008 Kentucky Derby as the whole world was watching. Despite her pedigree, Coming Home was sold to a meat buyer for just $200. She was only hours away from being trucked to a slaughterhouse when PETA’s investigator stepped in and bought her. Coming Home will at last come home to a safe and permanent home, on a PETA member’s ranch.

Coming Home is no isolated case, but this mare shows that lineage does not protect a horse from a bad and frightening end. Because horse slaughter is now outlawed in the U.S., thousand of horses will be trucked out of the country, an often long journey. Some will put out an eye, others will be kicked and bitten, and some will fall and be trampled as they journey to their deaths. Others who are spared that ride may spend the rest of their days neglected, starved and forgotten, as in the case of well-known New York horse breeder Ernie Paragallo, who was convicted of starving nearly 200 horses. Owners who pay exorbitant stud fees turn their backs on horses who are too old or injured to run or who are just not fast enough. There are too many horses and too few retirement options.

While the best bet for the horses would be to stop betting on the Derby and other horse races, and to stop breeding, racing and killing thoroughbreds altogether, who could disagree that at the very least, the racing world, which makes millions upon millions from horses, should provide a decent retirement for the animals it no longer has any use for. It’s not enough, but it’s a start, and it’s not asking much.

PETA has made a proposal to the Jockey Club. The Thoroughbred 360 Life Cycle Retirement Fund would require a mandatory $360 retirement fee for each registration of a foaland for each transfer of ownership. This modest fee amounts to pocket change for breeders and owners but would generate more than $20 million toward horses’ retirement. It wouldn’t solve all the problems and would require proper planning and administration. But without it, tens of thousands of thoroughbreds will continue to be shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada, Mexico and even Japan, where Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand ended up on a meat hook.

For the horses, implementing this plan is a matter of life or death. Terry Bradshaw, will you please stand up for them and be counted?

This article was originally published by The Huffington Post.

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8 Comments

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    Michele says...

    May 6th, 2011, 7:50 pm

    Take greyhounds for instance when they are done racing and retired these dogs lose their value and why? Simply because they feel this was that dogs worth. screwed up. These horses don’t deserve this treatment and it’s sick but than again their are sick people out there and this proves it when anybody goes and harms or kills an animal.

    Steve says...

    May 6th, 2011, 9:04 pm

    This is disgusting!!
    It’s hard to believe that so many people can be so in sensitive and uncaring..These people are scumbags and obviously mentally defective..

    These animals(all animals) have the same right to life as we do, and people that don’t believe that should suffer the same fate as the animals..

    We need an animal lover in the white house who will do something about all the animal cruelty..Unfortunalely we don’t have one.

    Maybe someday…

    edwige says...

    May 6th, 2011, 9:19 pm

    PLUS JAMAIS ça; c’est ignoble,horrible,comment :pourquoi ça existe; des humains assoiffés de sang!!!!!!!!!!

    Samara says...

    May 9th, 2011, 2:28 pm

    I agree with you, Steve, only I think the people that hurt animals should be punished even more cruelly! I wish more people would think of animals the same way we do – they are just a different species than us – we are human animals – all of our rights should apply to them! Every time I tell someone that I oppose all animal “sports”, including The Kentucky Derby, because of the suffering that happens, they don’t believe me! They think that the horses must be treated well, since they are in such an “important” race! I’ve found that it is an unwinnable arguement, and that horrifies me!
    I, too, wish we could have someone in the white house who would acknowledge all of the cruelty, and do something about it! Getting rid of Ken Salazar would be a great first step!

    Pat Coetzer says...

    May 10th, 2011, 2:22 am

    Every day I wake up and wonder what horrific story I am going to read about the cruelty to animals! People ask me why I read it when I know it is going to upset me. It amazes me that people can take on that attitude of “What the eye does not see”. I can’t, I cry and it haunts me everyday what is going on in the world. With every battle won, there is another cruelty being invented for want of a better word – example Rabbit battery farms in the UK.
    What kind of people are living on this earth. We are becoming savages and barbaric in our behaviour. What right does anyone have to treat animals in this evil cruel way and when is it every going to stop.
    What kind of world are were bringing our children into and what is this showing them – that animals or another human being is not worth anything. I just cannot understand how someone can make that first blow to an animal. May they all rot in hell.

    Lisa says...

    May 11th, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I am soooooo with you Steve and Samara – people that hurt animals should be punished even more cruelly … NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS ABOUT it, it is what these VILE humans deserve, they abuse and kill … then so bit it!!
    IT IS ONLY FAIR why not, they made the choice to abuse &/or take a life of an innocent animal (or human) then they deserve no respect & the same in return!

    AND PAT – I am the same way, every day I wake up and wonder what horrific story I’m going to read, hear or see about the cruelty to animals! It sickens me to no end what humans are doing to innocent animals. I don’t know about any one else out there but humans make me !@#$%^&* sick anymore & I am ashamed to be part of a human race that has become this !@#$%^&* evil. Plain & simple … I hate them! I never used to be like this, but the more I see, hear & read about the evil !@#$%^&* humans are doing to animals the more I dispize them. We can’t keep turning the other cheek, slapping them on the hand & telling them to stop it, they don’t deserve any such kindness.

    Erika says...

    May 13th, 2011, 10:41 pm

    I adopted 2 thoroughbreds saved from slaughter auctions by rescues. Both will live the rest of their lives comfortably with us. They are great horses. They deserve it. When you save a horse it changes your life. We stopped the slaughter of horses in this country now we have to move on to close the borders and end the shipping of American horses to slaughterhouses. Also end the overbreeding done by the racing industry and AQHA.

    The retirement fund is a wonderful idea that any owner that can spend thousands in breeding fees can surely afford … easily.

    blanca says...

    June 17th, 2011, 10:34 pm

    I do not understand people….do these human beings have no soul. The word human is in the word humane for a reason!! It’s sad that green paper has consumed the souls of so many causing pain to so many innocent lives. God help us.

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