Showing posts with label Thoroughbreds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thoroughbreds. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What's Your Opinion?: Horse Racing (answers) Part One

Thank you to everyone that shared their thoughts on the horse racing industry! Whether you think that racing is good, bad, or you are indifferent, I appreciate you taking the time to participate. I received more of a response than I expected, so I will post the answers in two different posts.

I had a theory that most equestrians would have the ability to differentiate between the good and the bad of the sport. For the most part, that seemed to prove true. The people that are against racing gave reasonable answers as to why and I don't necessarily disagree with most of their reasons. However, my opinion isn't what this is about and I'll keep it to myself for now. So, we'll get straight to the responses:

I worry about too many horses being bred and then discarded because the don't win. How many breeders actually place these horses in homes for a productive future. Also the young age these horses are started is concerning. In general I disapprove of the breeding and racing practices. But I still read your blog, to read about your riding.

Thank you for still reading my blog!

Exploitation of the horse for the entertainment of the wealthy and greed of the gamblers. The horse is used as an expendable commodity in a society that provides poor management for the multitude of horses that don't make it to the upper performance tiers, break down at an early age, or outlive their usefulness. Because the big ticket races are for 3-yr-olds, the breeding pressure is to produce early-maturing colts with no thought for longevity. Who cares if the horse can stay sound after 5 yrs old in order to be successful in other careers? What is done with all the broken down, unwanted horses since the slaughter houses have been shut down in the U.S.? The wealthy don't care that the horse market is perpetually depressed due to their narrow-focused breeding programs.

I love going to the track, and love all the good things about it (horses that love their jobs, get great care, and have a purpose, nice way for non horsey people to see horses and have an afternoon out) Hate all the downsides to it and any other competitive horse sport (bad care, cheating, tired horse, drugs), wish they'd stop racing babies so much, and unhappy about the amount of horses not given a new career or retirement when they're done.

Honestly? Fun, mysterious, and expensive. I really don't know much about it except the one time I horse shopped in the stall area at the track. Seemed like a mix of people trying to make money with no real care for the horses and folks that really care...no different than any other horse profession. At the end of the day, it is a business and cheating, shitty behavior happens. Again, this happens in any competitive sport.

I am pretty indifferent. There are bad eggs in every horse group and it really isn't fair to judge the whole group by the few. But I do worry about all the stress being put on the young bodies, and I worry about the "quick fixes" (like drugs) that are available to mask the havoc that that stress causes. I know this problem isn't exclusive to the racing world, but there seems to be a lot more money involved in racing (which seems to be the big driving force of masking problems).

I've always been fascinated by racing from a very early age. It's actually what made me fall in love with horses and I have made a lifelong career in a different equestrian discipline. Horses can be abused in any horse sport, so I don't condemn racing for the injuries & deaths that can occur. I do think there is a need for rules, procedures, and monitoring to ensure the horses' welfare is a priority, just as is the case in any type of horse sport.

There is good and bad in every sport, from horse racing to little league, from show jumping to football, from dressage to golf, etc etc. I think that the fact that there is so much (public) betting is what really gets peoples knickers in a twist about it. If there wasn't so much money involved it would not have so much of a spot light on the bad things. I believe that bad things are an exception, I avoid the trainers where the 'bad' things occur. That said, no matter how careful someone is tragedy can strike during a race, but you know what else? Tragedy can strike in turnout, on a trail ride, in an arena, in the trailer, over jumps. I feel that the more common outcome from the track are amazing horses, horses who have seen it all and learn not to spook,horses that trailer, horses that know how to stand for grooming and bath time. Horses with a true work ethic. I would like to see some changes in regards to allowed drugs and the 'goodolboysclub' but I would also like to see some changes in eventing, that doesn't make either of them 'evil.' I don't see people getting in an uproar about the hunter/jumper shows, is it because they are supposedly more classy than the racetrack? In many circles horses that are not sound enough for dressage or eventing are sold on to the hunter/jumper world because they are allowed to use and do things of questionable nature to keep the horse sound or calm. Does this mean that I dislike that world? No it just means that there is some room for change and improvement. My biggest issue in this day and age is that people want to scream and yell about problems and stir the pot and generally cause strife, but what if instead we worked to bring about change. Real change, productive change. Instead of working to shut down a sport and make people into villains (PETA) why don't we work to create opportunities for people to do better. Work on new or better rules, safer environments, more education. I will wrap this up now, my apologies for being so long winded. In a nut shell I love horse racing, it produces incredible horses, yes there is room for change, but there is in every sport. Let all of us step up to the plate, let us be the change.

I watch the Triple Crown every year and Eight Belles. It's hard not to focus on the syringes and the broken legs. However, if you study horses and look at the list of horse sports, flat track racing and endurance are the two sports that seem to match the horse's natural behavior the closest. I believe if horses could choose their sport, they'd pick one of those, because horses truly love to cover ground in a group. The sport I believe no horse would choose is barrel racing. since I was a kid. When I was twelve the only thing I ever wanted was to be a jockey. That said, I think there are a lot of things wrong with anything we do that is involved with that much money.

I wish they didn't race them so young. I don't know a whole lot about racing but I do wish they could grow up a bit more before competing.

I love watching it, especially in person, but I think - like so many things that are taken to extremes - the pursuit of it often obscures the health of so many involved, from the jockeys to the horses. I have watched the video of Secretariat's Belmont dozens of times, and cry every time I do, but I watch so many races through my fingers now because of the breakdowns.

Mixed emotions. Hate the early breaking that lames so many, and that the breeders aren't breeding for long term soundness. However, an awful lot of people have a really nice horse as a result of someone with $$$$$ taking a loss on what they bought/produced. OTTB can be great sport horses for people who can't afford to import a warmblood. I like to watch racing, the horses are beautiful, but the chemical dosing to get "one more race" is shameful. In it's heyday, racing was the #1 spectator sport in the US. Anything that gets horses into people's awareness has a benefit. But then there is the dark side. Ugh.

Ok, so I used to LOVE horse racing. I read Bloodhorse and DRF obsessively. I had two tracks practically in my backyard - Belmont and Aqueduct. I saw some of the greatest racehorses of the last decade run some of the biggest races, live. Curlin, Rags to Riches, Saint Liam, Afleet Alex, Gio Ponti, Folklore, so many. I think there are some of the world's greatest horsemen and women at the racetrack. I think some of the most cutting edge technology in horse medicine derived from racing. I also think horses can be treated as commodities.What really turned me off, after a lifetime of being a horses racing fan, is the commercial breeding market. The turn racing has taken from being a mostly breed to race industry to a breed to sell industry is what has ruined racing, in my opinion. The race to the breeding shed, breeding to the 'hot sire', breeding babies for the sales ring, the two-year old in training sales, that is what soured me on racing and why I think the thoroughbred of today is a lesser creature than the thoroughbred of yesteryear. Its a money grab.

While I enjoy the sport from a distance, I honestly know little about the day to day work of the horses. I have had the displeasure of meeting several below average trainers whose techniques I didn't agree with. But that said, any sport has those "bad apples" and I take that with a grain of salt. Really any sport which emphasizes the beauty and power of my favorite animal is a winner in my books.

I think the horse racing industry is a lot like the rest of the horse industry: fraught with good and bad. While in racing there might be more public abuses (over breeding, drugging, the ephemeral "milkshakes" that you hear about), crazy shit happens in all disciplines at all levels. Horses are ridden and worked long-term on drugs that essentially sedate them and that they can, eventually, no longer function without. Horses are drugged up to their eyeballs so 50 pound six year olds with four inch spurs can kick them along in a halter class! If those aren't things to be just as disgusted by as the racing industry, I don't know what is.

I love horse racing, its what piqued my interest in horses. It has its problem, but what sport doesn't? People who think racing is the only sport with a problem are exceptionally naive.

A pretty open question and leaves a lot to be discussed, mostly because I do and I don't have a problem with horse racing. I don't have a problem with performance race horses and them racing - what I do have a problem with is the useage of drugs, cheating, horses being raced until they break down, etc. Basically, all the shady crap that goes on in the background. I will admit I don't know firsthand a lot of stuff about the racing industry, but the abuse/cruelty/neglect that goes on is NOT okay (as with other equestrian sports). Race the horse you have - not the one you want.

Love it! I worked for a steeplechase trainer in college and really learned a lot. I do feel like there are bad trainers out there, but it shouldn't ruin the sport for everyone.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A few before and after pictures

I wish I had done a lot more before and after pictures. I have some more somewhere, but these were the more accessible ones. I love watching them gain weight and the change in their muscle developement (yes, we try for correct muscle development). Anyway, here's three that we've had in the last year or so.


I was pretty pissed off when we got her and she looked like this. Really pissed actually. It wasn't even hard to get the weight on her, there is no reason she ever should have been in that kind of condition.


He didn't look horrible when we got him, but there was certainly room for improvement. I think this over a six week period, but I'm not 100% on that. I couldn't get him to pose the same for the after picture, but you get the idea. Isn't he cute?


Proof that feeding just grass hay probably isn't going to cut it. It took three months to get him looking good.