The Big Lie

If horseracing is a sport, then that word must be redefined, for the competitive racing of horses resembles no other accepted sport on the planet:

Where else are young pre-athletes – children – forever torn from their mothers to begin intensive training, training that starts long before bones and muscles are even remotely mature? Where else are the athletes confined to stalls 23 hours a day for their entire careers (making a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run)?

Where else are the athletes bought, sold, traded, and dumped – literally? Where else are the athletes drugged and doped without consent? Where else are the athletes whipped for motivation? Where else are the athletes regularly dying on the playing field? And finally, where else are most of the retired shackled, slashed, bled-out, and butchered? Horseracing a sport? If not for the gravity involved, it would be absurd.

No, racing is the $2 bet, nothing more, nothing less. And in the end, that’s who we are trying to reach – the bettor, both player and occasional visitor to Saratoga. And to remind that all actions have consequences, and the consequences of a seemingly innocuous wager on a horserace are thousands dead and countless others abused. We’re not here to rail against gambling, just gambling at the expense of nonconsenting sentient beings. So, exploit the hell out of cards, slots, and scratch-offs; (at long last) let the racing horse be.


  1. I’m hoping against hope that a racing supporter will answer EACH of Patrick’s questions.

  2. Yes, racing enthusiasts, please answer ALL of Patrick’s questions. Also, please answer this one from me. What happens to the nurse mare foals that become disposable within the racing industry?

  3. Nobody of integrity and any human compassion could possibly defend this business, fraught with exploitation of the horse at every level.
    And, Mary I seriously doubt you will get an answer to your question concerning the fate of the nurse mares’ newborn foals from any of the industry’s “defenders”. It is not pretty !!

  4. I will answer it. They will go to slaughter just like all other livestock. They are livestock. They are not your children or the children or horsemen that say they are part of their family. If you feel they are you children or part if your family put them down as a dependent on your taxes next year and see what happens.

    Everyone thinks they are accomplishing something by closing down slaughter houses, but yet wish to act horrified because horses are starving in fields, being left by owners that have lost their jobs, or have to be hauled a thousand miles out of the country to get to the nearest slaughter house. You close the slaughter houses here they will be sent abroad. Same thing will happen if you close down beef,chicken or any other livestock slaughtering plants. Oh yeah let’s act stunned when we figure out Mexico’s killing methods. Remember you don’t want it done in the United States, so that us what you get.

    I will go thought this again, I guess. Some people think they have this special kinship with horses. There are people that have a need to bond with something and they see the horse as an elegant choice. Funny thing is they are most beautiful when performing in one of the disciplines that have been labeled as abusive by some. Not when they are standing in the field stomping flys.

    One argument given by the anti-slaughter groups is about how intelligent horses are, but pigs have been shown to be as intelligent if not more intelligent then horses. Why isn’t anyone trying to stop the slaughter of pigs?? Do you think as smart as pigs are they want to be slaughtered?? Or is it that you just like bacon that much???

  5. Side note: the nurse mare market must be a Kentucky thing. The places I go if they have foal that lost a mother they first put the word out to others to see if anyone has a mare with out a foal. If they are lucky enough to find one ( I have never seen anyone deny another their open mare) they match them up. It doesn’t always go as planed, but more then often if does. One trade secret is that if the mare is not sure she wants the foal you put them close to each other where they can smell each other put not really touch. When you go to put the foal in the stall with the mare, bring a stallion down and stand him outside of the stall. Usually the mare will vigorously attack the stallion to protect the foal. It’s called instinct. After that they usually consider the foal theirs. So you trick their instincts to kick in.
    Most of the time there is not going to be a mare available. There are a lot of mares that will take all the foals they can get. Especially if their own foal is older. So you just stick the foal in with a mare that already has a foal. Two years ago I saw a Welsh pony mare nursing 2 Arabian foals. Neither if which were hers. She had not been breed the year before and gladly took both foals and produced milk. I have seen mare steal foals from other mares, I have seen mares let every baby in the field nurse off them(even yearlings). So there are many options for an orphaned foal. The nurse mare business is not as necessary as everyone believes.

  6. Labels are used by humans to categorize and rationalize, as you well know. However, the foals in question are not bred for slaughter. They are bred so money can be made by renting out the mares to the other horse breeding operations.

    The nurse mare foals are considered worthless other than the few dollars they bring selling them to slaughter.

    Further, my mare does a “routine” all on her own that is quite spectacular. I have a marvelous video of her that would rival that of any discipline taught by us humans. And as to your assessment that “people that have a need to bond with something and see the horse as an elegant choice” may be a little above your pay grade !

    A small reminder, this site concerns horses and the abuse they are subjected to. Bringing up the issue of animal slaughter in general is a red herring. You do digress !

    • Rose, was asked actually almost dared to give an opinion. Giving an opinion you approve of was not a requisite…

      • AC2 you were asked what happens to the nurse mare foals, period. I did not see any request for an opinion about it.
        And you must know the nurse mare business thrives in FL.

  7. Rose, Because I have never seen a nurse mare farm all I can do is give opinions. I have no facts to give on that industry. As for Florida I have not been there for an extended stay since the mid 80’s. I am more then sure things have changed. Tartan Farms did have a couple of non thoroughbred mares in a field separate from the other mares. I was told that they were bred every year in case they were needed. I did not see them used or know what happened to their off spring since I was working on the racing/training side.

    So to the question: What happens to the nurse mare foals?? Answer: I have no idea… Is that better??

    • Mr. AC2, although I am hesitant to respond to any questions you post, I did feel that I should respond to this one. Nurse mare foals are “discarded” by-products of the TB industry. They are allowed to die or they are slaughtered, not primarily for meat because there isn’t much meat on a foal, but for their “coats” or pony leather. Some are “saved” by…you, guessed it…those who are outside the racing industry.

    • The nurse mare foals will go to slaughter, “just like all the other livestock”. “They are livestock”. And, since these foals fall into the “livestock” category that fact alone absolves all !?
      I find that to be a sorry excuse and just one more nasty detail of an overall brutal business.

  8. Mary, I posted no questions. So you hesitate to answer my questions but you will answer questions I don’t ask? Sounds about right.

    Rose, can you tell me of a livestock business that is not brutal??

  9. Lets consider horses and foals because that is what the conversation is about.

    Race horses are abused their whole lives because of money, greed and, of course, ego in the upper tiers of the game. At the claiming level, where the vast majority of the horses race, they are shunted from barn to barn, drugged and run sore. As they descend in the ranks of the claiming game, the frequencies of their starts increase. I have seen older geldings started up to 24 times in 12 months as well as others horses with as many as 8-9 starts in less than 3 months and then they either breakdown or disappear. There are no rules concerning how many times these so called “trainers” can race their horses in a given time period….. gota fill those race cards !

    Many of these horses finish last or close to last with statements such as “tired” in the comments section. I WONDER WHY? !!! You know the majority of these “tired” horses, if not killed at the track, “disappear” into the slaughter pipeline to await the restful truck ride to the house of horrors. But of course they are “livestock”. “They go to slaughter just like all the other livestock” !

    Thank goodness for our categorization/labeling system ! The livestock label can be conveniently used as a sorry excuse or as an attempt to rationalize the disposal system, that slaughter is, for an industry that causes so much pain, misery and culminates in horrific death for the discarded.

  10. I wonder how many of these race horses are insured meaning they are worth more dead than alive, maybe thats why they are run to death, the only legal way to claim your insurance payment.

    • I see your concept, Carolyn, though I’m not sure how “worth more dead than alive” is easily quantified because what is the horse worth “alive?” If you go by claiming price, the insurance companies fix that matter, as I will explain. Say you buy or breed a horse and take out a million dollar policy. That must mean the horse is worth a million dollars to you alive, or you wouldn’t be taking a policy out like that (premiums are not cheap, the annual runs about 5% of the policy value–so a million dollar policy will cost you about $50,000 a year). Years pass, and that horse ends up in a $25,000 claiming race. BOOM. The value of the policy IMMEDIATELY drops to $25,000 the second the gate opens (obviously your next premium will be adjusted accordingly). If the horse dies on the track, the insurer pays you $25,000, not a million. If the horse continues to drop in class, the policy continues to drop. If the horse goes back up in class, the policy value does not move back up. There is no way that anybody can collect six or seven figures on an insurance claim when a horse dies in a $25,000 claiming race, or even if he dies 2 months after running in a $25,000 race. Forget about the humane or inhumane aspect of racing here, no insurance company could stay in business if it were managed that stupidly.

      Besides, they are typical insurance companies, and they have lawyers who are going to try everything possible to reduce or eliminate their liability to pay a claim, if there is even the slightest hint that something isn’t totally on the up and up. I know someone who used to take out insurance on every horse he owned. 3 years ago, after seeing the hassle he was put through to collect a $50,000 claim that wasn’t the least bit fishy (and had to settle for about half of it), he decided to stop insuring altogether. If the ownership is a syndicate and there is need to protect the limited partners, insurance might make some sense. For a single owner or family owner, insurance is strictly for suckers.

    • So in response to what you wonder, the number of horses who are insured is likely less than 10 percent. It’s a sucker’s “investment,” and most owners are coming around to recognizing this.

      As far as the IRS treatment of a dead horse (asset written off as a total loss) vs. an alive and non-productive racehorse (a net loss but still an asset with a value “on the books”) goes, I think you may be on to something more common than the insurance question.

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