There is plenty wrong with this video:
First, the abject suffering of the horse, 7-year-old Itzhoweeroll: lame, almost all the way around; malnourished, in part due to his teeth being “a mess”; beaten up – cuts, scrapes, ulcers; and criminally thirsty – “when he first came, he was so thirsty that he drank for ten minutes straight.”
Second, in an industry that (mostly) denies the butchering of its erstwhile athletes, this horse was in a feedlot awaiting his personal version of equine hell.
Third, the shameless portrayal of past/present owners Brian and Wendy O’Leary as thoughtful, compassionate folk – at least in regard to this horse. The narration begins:
“This is a story of a Thoroughbred named Itzhoweeroll and how its [italics added] one-time owners Brian and Wendy O’Leary raised him, lost him, and got him back.”
Brian O’Leary: “We made a decision to put him into a claiming race.” After selling, “We kept an eye on him for a while…we kept an eye on him over the years as he went through a few different ownerships.”
Wendy O’Leary: “[After seeing a picture of their former charge in a feedlot for the slaughterbound] Of course I immediately started to cry.”
Brian: “It’s one thing if you hear this happens to a horse you used to own. When it happens and you have an opportunity to do something, it’s even better again to go out there and be able to save a horse that’s been so nice to you in life…”
And now for some conveniently omitted facts:
After using him, earning on him – to the tune of $186,000 – for 21 races, the O’Learys dumped “Roller” into yet another claiming race – though Mr. O’Leary makes it sound like this was a first-time thing, it was actually the ninth time they had done this – leaving their helpless and hapless horse utterly unprotected (again), knowing full well that anyone could buy him. (“Lost him”? Please – they cleared $30,000.) And anyone did, actually multiple anyones, meaning there were plenty of chances for the O’Learys to reclaim him (and on the cheap: in December, “Roller” was worth but $8,000). And when one of those anyones abused “Roller” to lameness and sold him to slaughter, the O’Learys come swooping in, masquerading (or at least being depicted) as “rescuers.” “Rescuers.” If not for the deadly seriousness of it all, this story would be a farce.
To “rescue,” says the dictionary, is “to cause to be free from danger, imprisonment, or difficulty.” While technically true that the O’Learys saved this horse from slaughter, they were the ones who put him in danger, imprisonment (they bought him as a yearling), and difficulty in the first place – both each and every time they had him whipped to run at an unnatural speed and when they hung him out to dry in claiming races. While the O’Learys may be otherwise decent people, let’s not get distracted here: Within Racing, there are no good guys, no heroes. Just exploiters.