Just Another Industry Throwaway Who Was Destined for a Bad End

Shedrow Secrets

by Mary Johnson

In late July, 2013, a racing official at Beulah Park reached out to me for help concerning six horses that were in danger of “disappearing” off the backside of the track. I immediately contacted fellow horse advocates for assistance with networking since placing one horse, much less six, is extremely difficult. Time was of the essence and we were all under a great deal of pressure to help these horses land safely. Over a couple weeks, five were placed into homes or rescues and we were now down to one – Wakiwickedwarrior.

Waki was incredibly thin as well as lame, and the track vet had recommended euthanasia. In addition, Waki had a fractured right orbital socket that, though it had healed over time, left his eyes asymmetrical, making him look “deformed.” The injury, it was suspected, was due to blunt trauma. He wasn’t a very good-looking horse, at least from outward appearances. However, when I first met Waki, I realized that he was a very sweet horse and, even though he was just a low level “claimer,” he was just as valuable and deserving as the big-money winners. As we furiously worked to help him land safely, Sandy Maddy, a friend of many years, reached out and offered to foster him, and I immediately took her up on it. Waki is now with me, but I will always be indebted to Sandy for stepping up for a horse with limited options.

On July 10, 2013, Waki ran his last race at Beulah Park. From the racing minutes that day, “Wakiwickedwarrior dueled and chased the winner for a half before stopping to a walk in the stretch run.” Waki walked off the track, unable to keep up with the rest of the herd. He was done – defeated and broken – at a mere five years old. Little did he know that in a few short weeks his luck would change.

Waki is one of the lucky ones because, though damaged, he made it out of racing alive and landed in a good, forever home. He is the exception because in the vast majority of cases, the racing industry does NOT – will NOT – step up for its fallen warriors. I have seen Waki’s story play out many, many times with horses that have been sucked dry. Some are crippled and maimed to the point that humane euthanasia is the only option. So what is the solution? End horseracing now. Stop the betting and this gambling industry will die, like so many of its horses, in the dirt. Seems simple to me.

Waki, one month after his last race (yes, he was being raced like this)…

Waki (and me), earlier this month…


  1. Thank you for the amazing work you have done in rehabilitating Waki! This industry will eventually die off due to economics. It is NOT a sport as so many refer to it. It is strictly a money earning hard nosed business in all aspects that does little for the horses who generate the $ through bets placed.

  2. I recently contacted an arts/educational non-profit organization that was using a party associated with the Kentucky Derby to raise money for their good cause. I told them to check out racing in more detail using this website and mine for info. To my surprise they emailed me back and said their board had decided not to use racing as a theme next year due to this input. Yay. My new strategy is to target sponsors and groups like this who may honestly be unaware of the reality of racing.

    • Great idea, Christine! I felt the same way when I saw Rocket Mortgage advertising on tv, to have a chance to win tickets to see this years Derby. I called them and complained – I’m sure it went nowhere, but I did notice the commercials stopped. Maybe the contest is over, who knows, but at least we are starting to be a voice for these abused animals.

  3. What an incredibly lucky horse that he was to have connected with you and your friend. It is an amazing and heart warming story that this one has a happy ending. The horse look gorgeous now compared to the photo from the track. These tracks all have to cease with this racing as they are killing off so many wonderful horses. We do not need these types of horse owners, trainers, etc involved as they are all abusers and there is no other word for it. Shut down the tracks and find homes for these beautiful souls just like Waki found. God Bless you for saving this gentle soul!!

  4. Thank you, Mary. I know there are many horses alive today, forever changed through your tireless efforts and commitment to be their voice and guardian angel. Waki is a sweet shining example of hope that too few live to see. I see how happy he is today and I love that he’s able to freely run and graze in the pasture with my horse. The general public doesn’t want to know the ugly truth about racing. It’s so much easier for them to believe in the fantasy of glamour that’s televised every May with the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, the donning of ridiculous costumes & hats and the downing of mint juleps. Truth isn’t always pretty, but it needs to be heard and believed. Because as harmless as it may feel placing a $2 bet, that’s what keeps the industry alive and the horses suffering and dying on tracks around the world so that breeders, owners and trainers can profit financially. Bless you & all the warriors making a difference.

  5. Thanks to Mary and all your horse loving buddies/network who continue to step up to the plate for these “disposables” that the multi-billion dollar horse racing industry doesn’t give one dime to assist with.
    The only way to stop the mess of unwanted horses is to shut this vile business down.
    Waki all the best to you – you are a very lucky horse.

  6. Mary – You are a true warrior! Beautiful inspirational picture of the two of you. Thank you for sharing your story – it is so welcome to counter all the bad stories of abuse and misery,

  7. I cried as I read this, I am so happy that he is now with you. You did a great job at getting him healthy and well taken care of with great compassion. Thank you Sandy and all others that helped with this beautiful horse!

  8. Thank you for sharing this story with a happy ending. Most horses are not this lucky! We must keep our voices heard and stop this cruel racing sport…all for the almighty dollars! These poor animals cannot speak their agony. We must speak for them. Thank you to those who care.

  9. Thank you, Mary for what you have done for Waki and so many others.
    And , of course, for telling his story.
    One need only compare his track picture with the beautiful healthy animal you are pictured with in order to understand what this evil business does to the horse.

    There should be no doubt in any human mind that Waki was destined for the kill auction , the beginning of a cruel journey to a horrific end in the slaughterhouse. It is so plain to see Waki was undernourished and dispondent, almost as though he “knew” he was done for.. But you, Mary, dug into your pocket and with help saved him. As usual the well heeled business responsible for the plight of Waki and countless others turned it’s back and walked away.

    In racing the welfare of the horse is disregarded. He is robbed of his dignity and his life by the many, many Auerbauchs of this business.

  10. The horse is a unsung hero for everyone. To think they ploughed the untilled land when no machinery was around. The horse carried soldiers into hell and were blown wide open. The horse could find its way through blinding blizzards, sandstorms, cannon fire, and many other harsh conditions. Yes the horse drew wagons loaded with excrutiating heavy loads through goldrushes and time. Then along with modern day came a new thing unfamiliar to the horse, a gas guzzling thing called an automobile. Many people call that horsepower and a replacement for what a horse is. Thanks my fiend Mary for saving Wakis way of life,

  11. Our species uses everything to what we see as our advantage. That has been true throughout our history. Many times this causes huge suffering. It is the ugly part of who we are. But when we are not enlightened by our past wrong doing and continue down the path of abuse for frivolous reasons that is inexcusable..
    Horseracing is a manafestation of the disregard for the horse and it’s contributations to our history. It degrades our humanity.
    Those responsible for the abuse ,that racing is, are in the small minority, a subculture, if you will.
    It is up to those that recognize how wrong racing is to expose the cruelty and deception.
    It is high time for humans to give back and right the wrong.

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