Equine Vet: “What impact would 23 1/2 hours of standing in a closet have on the mental health of a child?”

In June, Dr. Kraig Kulikowski, renowned equine veterinarian, testified (along with me and several others) before two NYS Senate committees. Highlights and video follow:

A two-year-old horse is equivalent to a six-year-old human. A three-year-old horse is equivalent to a nine-year-old human. Yet, the biggest races…are for three-year-olds. They still have their baby teeth. Their bones are not mature. Their brains are not mature. I can just tell you that as a two and a three-year-old, all their body parts are immature at that point and that they’re still developing.

These juveniles are herded out to the racetrack for less than 30 minutes of exercise per day. Then, these juveniles spend the rest of the day standing in a 12-foot by 12-foot stall. A 12-by-12 stall for a thousand-pound horse is equivalent to a four-foot by four-foot closet for a one-hundred-pound child. Most of these juveniles never see pasture or a moment of playtime once they start their racing career. What impact would twenty-three and one-half hours of standing in a closet have on the bone strength of a child? What impact would twenty-three and one-half hours of standing in a closet have on the mental health of a child?

The juvenile racehorse often comes off the track with stomach ulcers from the stress of their work and environment. These juvenile racehorses also leave the track with tendon and ligament injuries which severely impact their comfort… These juvenile racehorses often have evidence of osteoarthritis, even at the ripe old age of four years old. Some of the arthritis is from straight wear and tear. The rest of the arthritis is from chronic repetitive and excessive joint injections with corticosteroids. These juvenile racehorses also often have been mentally stressed to the point where many boarding facilities do not accept thoroughbred as boarders because they are considered dangerous or wild.

Twenty years ago…I learned that two and three-year-old horses are juveniles and should not be stunted for greed. I learned I wanted to help horses stay sound and healthy throughout their entire life, not just until the next race. I actually learned to be a good equine veterinarian. I could not be a racetrack veterinarian.

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  1. Thank-you Dr. Kraig Kulikowski.
    This says it all:
    “I learned I wanted to help horses stay sound and healthy throughout their entire life, not just until the next race. I actually learned to be a good equine veterinarian. I could not be a racetrack veterinarian.”
    Just like a racetrack vet a trainer comes to a fork in the road: the first one is you leave because you realize that no matter what your intentions, you must subject your racehorse to the abusive, cruel, and inhumane business practices in order to compete, win, and flip a buck, which is the name of the game. You leave because you truly care about the racehorse and you refuse to carry out the horrific abuse knowing that you are risking their life every time you send them out and knowing that there’s no grassy paddock waiting for them after they’re done. 2. you throw shit to the wind, you become an abuser yourself because by carrying out the daily practices clearly qualifies you as a racehorse exploiter and potential killer. Then you rationalize what your doing, you become delusional spewing the proverbial lines that you know damn well are inaccurate and incorrect.
    I know what road I took, although it took time, there’s no other conclusion you can come to as a rational and compassionate person that horse racing is WRONG – horse racing abuses, maims, and kills racehorses.
    This is precisely why you must become an opponent of horse racing, be their voice – it’s the only way.

    • God Bless you Gina, I just want you to know how much your Potent voice means to not only me, but, I’m sure I speak for many other good people who have a Moral compass. 🙏🐎😇

  2. This veterinarian is saying what those of us with common sense already know: horse racing is hell for horses, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. There is such a plethora of evidence against the racing industry that only the vile almighty dollar is keeping it alive. The Bible says that “the love of money is the root of all evil” and seeing what people are willing to do to these horses on a daily basis confirms it.

    Did anyone see the article in the Paulick Report today about a four year old mare retired because of fractured sesemoids? I wonder if the racing industry is calling dead horses “retired” now.

    • Too darn hot has hind leg injury and divine miss grey has frac sesamoid. They want her as a broadmare now. Claiming the injury is not too bad.

      • Well I guess as long as she can stand long enough to produce more innocent fodder for the racing death machine, her injury isn’t too bad. Let’s see what happens when they can’t get anything more out of her.

  3. Great topic, and one which a lot of veterinarians are all too familiar. Many equine vets are reticent to criticize an industry with which they still have business interests. But ask your local small-animal practice vet about their track experiences. Many have served in some capacity as part of their training/residency, if not outright past employment. I’ve seen one male vet visibly shudder when asked. Others simply say that the track is no nice place for horses. None I have asked would ever consider “treating” racehorses as a career move. It’s a job for hardened, grizzled old vets with no idealism about doing what’s best for the animal.

  4. Sending a horse out to race that young is just a disaster waiting to happen and it’s the horse who suffers or dies not the owners!

  5. So very true. Dr K. pinpointed exactly what a race horse experiences at the race track. Bravo! Doctor for telling the truth about what really goes on at the race track.
    Let’s just end this terrible industry and horse slaughter.

  6. I would like to see more transparency of the truth behind the corruption of racehorsing.
    It is devastating to know that these juvenile horses are used for greed and not allowed to see pasture or exercised only 30 minutes a day and then kept in a stall for the remaining 23 1/2 hours of the day. It’s cruel and so unhealthy for these young, developing horses.
    How can I help to support this cause?

  7. Rebecca, good point regarding the fate of the broodmares.. If they are not producing “anything” (winners) or when they are spent or barren they are “retired” to the slaughterhouse.. And the stallions are either sold to places like Korea, Turkey, Brazil or sent to slaughter.
    Every component of this industry is geared to exploitation of the horse. And if he is not a money maker or when he is no longer profitable he is dumped.

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