Whistle Included – Another of Racing’s Hidden Casualties

On July 31 of this year, 7-year-old Whistle Included was a cheap “claimer” toiling at seedy tracks for bottom-feeder “connections.” In other words, exactly the kind of horse who would simply disappear when Racing was done with him. That day, they were. In his 46th time under the whip, Whistle was “vanned off” after the 9th at Mountaineer. “Vanned off” – then disappeared. Here, I will let Joy Aten, our featured Shedrow Secrets contributor, pick up the story (from her FB page):

I know you’re probably “numb” to my posts by now – the majority done with hopes of educating an unknowing public about the horseracing industry – but just look at him [below]…his name, Whistle Included. He’s dead today.


“Whistle” was a racehorse. He was last raced on July 31 at Mountaineer in West Virginia; he tried very hard in that race to protect his injured left front limb – likely a cumulative injury from the repeated pounding he absorbed on American tracks – and after the race, he required the “horse ambulance” to get back to the barn.

Less than three months later, Kelly Smith found Whistle at the infamous New Holland auction; he was headed to the slaughterhouse. But Kelly intervened and bought (rescued) him. She says Whistle was a sweetheart – just LOOK at his face, his eyes; he’s got sweetness written all over him. But she knew that left ankle was in very bad shape, and Whistle went directly to the vet clinic. X-rays confirmed Kelly’s fears: the ankle [below] had multiple fractures; it was irreparable. Any hope for a comfortable pasture life was gone. So Kelly did the only thing she could do – the compassionate thing: Last Friday, Whistle Included was humanely euthanized.


For those who may not know, Whistle would have been loaded onto a trailer FULL of other horses for a LONG trip – hours and hours with no food, no water, no rest; with unfamiliar horses all jostling for a comfortable, stable position while the rig sped toward the border. Once at the slaughterhouse, he would have been roughly unloaded – again, horses who don’t know one another will attempt to establish hierarchy and will bite, kick and strike. Imagine Whistle and other injured horses trying to protect themselves in that situation. Then, he would have waited in a paddock until it was his time – the “kill box,” a metal bolt to the head, a knife to the artery. Look again at Whistle’s face and imagine that…

Which brings me to this – there were many people responsible for this damaged racehorse being delivered into a kill-buyer’s hands. Certainly the individual who brought him or had him brought to New Holland bears responsibility – but THIS is where racing apologists want to absolve Whistle’s past owners and trainers from any responsibility. Just because his last racing owner might not have physically brought him there, she certainly and WITHOUT QUESTION set him up for a “bad ending” – as did ALL his former “connections.”

Why didn’t Whistle’s last owner have him euthanized after his injury? GREAT question and one I used to ask myself when I was new to rescuing broken racehorses. Why don’t they? Because they would have to PAY for radiographs and then, if warranted, PAY for euthanasia…and they certainly don’t want to put out any money for a horse who cannot make them any. So what do they do? Some pretend to “care” by giving their “damaged goods” away or maybe even sell them for a dollar (yes, ONE DOLLAR) – making sure to draw up a contract in order to protect themselves (see, it wasn’t me who brought the horse to auction). In other words, they cover their asses. And by moving out the injured, they make room for fresh – revenue-producing – legs. Convenient for them, not for horses like Whistle.

Whistle, I’m sorry the racing people ever got their hands on you. I’m sorry you had your life stolen for entertainment, for gambling, for jobs. I’m sorry you never even had a life. You will not be forgotten, Whistle – and we will not stop trying.

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  1. An obvious improvement would be to give these sentient companion animals “real names” instead of the random objectification that silly, stupid names connote when seen or heard. It’s easier for the “business” to abuse and discard these loving and warm, flesh and blood creatures when they are objectified by ridiculous naming ploys. Horses have been authentic life savers for farmers, pioneers, travelers, and native peoples for ages. They deserve the initial respect of a real name and humane treatment. Everyone who cares should learn about the nonHuman Person Project. We need to establish and support sanctuaries and rescue operations as well as controlling and ending horse racing slavery.

  2. Thank you for bringing the ruthlessness and cruelty of racing to the foreground. Whistle is gone like all others, but we need to keep the work.

  3. Once again I say thank you, Joy, for writing the stories of these horses.
    I could hardly stand to look at his face and those eyes….

    This business destroys and dumps the majority of horses after a few short years pounding the tracks while being whipped, going from barn to barn, and being forced to run on sore and broken limbs as they descend into the hell that is slaughter.

    When is society going to wake up and demand an end to this despicable gambling business.
    Racing will continue to abuse and kill these horses before they even reach maturity and will do NOTHING to help them. Most of those involved in the business are liars, cheats and care nothing about the horse.

    All of Whistle Included’s connections, from start to finish, are guilty of this horrible abuse and betrayal. The amazing part is that there is absolutely no accountability. What a disgrace.

  4. The racing industry should not be able to continue to get away with injuring and killing horses for gambling!
    How is this any different than dog fighting?
    The fact that this poor horse along with many others knew nothing but suffering for his short life is nothing less than hideous.
    I hope there is a special place in hell for people involved in horse racing.

    • The main difference between racing and dog fighting is racing is “legal” cruelty. And the main reason it is “legal” is money and power.

  5. Thank you Joy for the story of Whistle Included – so incredibly sad.
    The silver lining in this story is that he was rescued by compassionate non-racing people who ensured that he would suffer no more.
    This is something that the industry failed to do from the connections, to the commission, to all the racing apologists who have the audacity to come on here, and defend this treatment of a sentiment being.
    You all make me sick.
    As a former owner/trainer I can report that there are so many more Whistle’s out there.
    I saw, over the years, MANY racehorses running on fractures or fractures that weren’t fully healed.
    Most of the connections know this, and STILL ran the horse!!
    Judging by the x-rays poor Whistle was training and/or running on fractured ankles for some time.
    The people in charge of the racehorses well-being, from the Trainers to the Owners, are never held accountable for the maiming, and dying.
    The “pre-race exams” give the illusion that they are sending out sound horses – laughable.
    There are so many hidden injuries that are not visible to even an experienced eye like a vet.
    Moreover, the ongoing doping to mask chronic injuries can often hold-off a visible ailment.
    So the pre-race exam is a total farce although better than nothing.
    That’s precisely why many racehorses die in the dirt for this industry because the vets can’t possibly detect all pre-existing injuries just by looking at the horse walk, jog, and by feeling the legs.
    Moreover, due to the “private” vet records policy the racing commission vets don’t even have access to the records that could detect issues, and possibly prevent breakdowns from happening.
    I suggested a mandatory x-ray program of the lower limbs to be conducted every 6 weeks with the results available on-line to the public, and/or to the commissions, but it was immediately squashed.
    The reason? Too much money, not economically viable for the 90% of Trainers struggling to pay for feed.
    There’s another reason though I think.
    They deliberately want to hide issues so that races can be filled, and wagering profit can be generated.
    Most of them know damn well that probably 50% of lower claimers would show serious pre-existing injuries, and they want that hidden at all costs in order to generate the delusion that the racehorses “love to run.”
    So it became obvious that the sole purpose of this industry is to have racehorses generate profit for the wagering coiffures at any expense even if it means that they suffer and/or die in the process.
    This is not unlike dog fighting. It isn’t. Just think about it.
    Like racehorses, fighting dogs are in a ring to generate gambling money while they suffer and/or die from it.
    How is this so different?
    I could go on and on, but people like Joy, Mary, Patrick, Caroline, Nicole etc. are right on when I read their comments.
    I saw the carnage first hand, and this is the reality of horse racing.
    It’s ugly, it’s brutal, and it’s a horror show behind the fancy hats, mint juleps, and smiling faces.
    This is the dirty world of horse racing, and Whistle is just one victim of many.

  6. Thank you Joy for sharing Whistle’s story. His eyes they look so innocent.
    This is just more proof that the racing organization abuse and dump these poor horses when they stop making anyone money. That’s why we need to keep getting the truth out to the public so that they know what’s really going on behind all that glamour.

  7. Thank you, Joy for writing and exposing the TRUTH about Whistle Included. What a beautiful looking creature he was. I felt sick when I saw his X-ray. There’s no excuse for not euthanasing any racehorse that suffers similar to Whistle – firstly on humane grounds and secondly this is a multi billion dollar industry that has the money to do the right thing by the horse. Just goes to show the callousness of this industry which operates in the business of abhorrent animal cruelty. Yes, it’s just so damn convenient for racehorse owners to pass on their damaged broken horses to new owners to relieve them of their responsibility for the welfare of the horse. However, these creeps remain responsible because they have seriously damaged the horse in more ways than one and ARE accountable. These people are not only cowards but are sadists.
    And we will continue to fight for these doomed horses who desperately need a voice.
    We are unstoppable.

  8. So heartbreaking! I wish I could comment more on this, but the words that would come out on how I really feel about the racing world, would be laced with adjectives that are not pretty!

  9. I’ve came to reality that they will defend each other to the end. Speaking up in this industry will get you nowhere, but they will spend plenty of energy on verbal insults. Yes…bad actors will continue to get a pass in this industry.

  10. Thank you Joy. What an awesome memorial to Whistle, and perfect way to show the cruel end that too often comes to those most innocent horses who end up on the track.

  11. Whistle Included’s story is reminiscent of Anita Vacation’s story from three months ago…two young, relatively successful TB racehorses, both exploited by their racing connections and, within a short period of time, end up at a kill auction. Now, there are many racing apologists who seem to want to give racing a “free pass” and the reasons for doing so are varied, but let me be clear. The racing connections for BOTH these horses damaged them beyond repair and I am holding those racing connections accountable. I find it extremely difficult to even address the evil in this gambling industry but suffice it to say that racing maims, and kills, horses DAILY yet people still flash their bright, brilliant smiles as horses are dying, either in the dirt or on slaughterhouse floors. The depravity of humans continues to amaze me.

    Whistle Included was found with Bruce Rotz, a contract kill buyer, and the person who found WI was Kelly Smith. I’m sure there are those that remember how mercilessly the apologists bashed and trashed Kelly yet gave racing a “free pass.” Ms. Jen Roytz, a paid mouthpiece for racing, wrote a story, filled with lies, inaccuracies and fabrications, about another kill pen “save,” for the Paulick Report, “Cosequin Presents Aftercare Spotlight: When Helping is Hurting.” According to Roytz, and I quote, “Many people are worried about the fate about [sic] ex-racehorses, but there’s a proper way to go about helping.” Really, there is a “proper” way? And what would that “proper” way be? Ms. Roytz should enlighten me! And why would people be worried about the fate of ex-racehorses? Aren’t they loved just like family members? Not surprisingly, Roytz has incriminated the industry that she loves so very much. It looks as if Ms. Vicki Morgan, who is affiliated with Remember Me Rescue, has the answer as to the “proper/correct” way to rescue. According to Morgan, the “correct” way to rescue is to “work with a SANE, responsible core group of like-minded individuals and cut out the crazy. Boom! Success!” Wow! I have rescued using many different avenues so I don’t even know how to respond to such an idiotic statement but it seems that Morgan would have preferred that WI shipped to the slaughter plant since the people who stepped up would most likely have been considered “crazy” in her world. Yep, trash those who step up for the horses, but protect those that destroy them. I think Morgan and Roytz are right where they belong…immersed in an industry that maims, and kills, horses daily.

    I believe that loyalty to a person, or an industry, is admirable. However, when that loyalty becomes “blind loyalty,” a line is crossed and the loyalty is now dangerous. The facts are there for all to see but those suffering from “blind loyalty” refuse to see them. As Jo Anne Normile has stated, “Horse welfare and horseracing are mutually exclusive, whether at the Breeders Cup or all of the cheap tracks, bush tracks and illegal tracks” and Whistle Included gave his life because his welfare wasn’t a priority to his racing connections.

    Since this post is about Whistle Included, I would like to share an analogy that is easy to understand. Compare a racing stable to a company, such as P&G. P&G has many products (horses) in its portfolio. If a product (horse) doesn’t fit into the company’s business plan, they sell the product (horse). An example is CAMAY soap. P&G sold that brand because it wasn’t a good “fit” in their consumer goods portfolio. Companies “unload” their products all the time in order to concentrate on those that can generate the required revenue. Same with racing. Once a horse no longer generates the needed profit, the horse becomes a liability and is put up for sale in a claiming race or handed off/given away, often without references being done or a contract signed. The connections just simply “get rid of” the horse which is similar to a company “getting rid of” a brand such as CAMAY.

    Finally, even though Whistle Included didn’t die in the dirt, he is STILL a racing statistic. He wasn’t rescued the “proper” or “correct” way according to the racing apologists but he was saved from a grisly trip to the Canadian plant and for that I am thankful to Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue. WI was humanely euthanized at New Bolton, the same equine hospital that treated Barbaro. He was loved at the end of his life. Many horses aren’t as fortunate. As the supporters of racing desperately try to deflect away from the atrocities committed against the animals they supposedly “love”, it is up to the non-racing folks to pick up the damaged goods the vast majority of the time and that is the way that racing likes it. We love the horses. They love the industry. Big difference….

  12. Mary, you can be sure that we (the racehorse supporters who battle against the industry that kills them) would NOT be attacked by racing insiders and apologists if we didn’t expose the industry and didn’t work to educate the public about its abuse of the horses. They hate being exposed more than they appreciate their “beloved athletes” being rescued. And that speaks volumes about what REALLY matters to them…

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