“She died with an indescribable expression of horror and pain on her face.” – Please Read, Then Share

A recently received letter. Please read in its entirety. Then share.

October 28, 2019

Dear Patrick and Friends,

I say “friends” because I feel a united kinship with you and the regular commenters on HRW. I’ve followed HRW since its inception and I am grateful for the tracking you do on every death. Someone needs to remember the horses in a public way and, to me, the kill list reads like a memorial wall to their lives. They aren’t forgotten by everyone.

It is a shame that the owners and trainers and handlers don’t stand up for the horses. One need look no further than the horse racing “industry” to see the worst elements of human existence and the results of apathy and greed. Apathy begets greed. Greed is a hallmark of those without a soul.

I don’t want to reveal my identity or the identity of the TBs I will speak of here for fear of repercussion. I am long out of involvement directly with racing, but the names could alert people still involved. There are a lot of active racing folks who read HRW to find something to bitch amongst themselves about, to deride the information, to see if their names are mentioned there. I hope you understand.

I need very much to share the story of the horses whose names didn’t make it to the lists – private training track deaths, deaths on the farm. These beautiful beings were my friends; I’ve always been able to connect deeply with horses, to feel and understand their hearts and minds. For some time in my life, this made me valuable to the racing business. Horses were my greatest joy and the root of abject sorrow.

I treated horrific soft tissue injuries, helped the vet euthanize those too damaged to patch together anymore, consoled many who were beaten and terrified – so afraid that the sound of grain being poured into their feed bucket sent them bolting against the back of the stall, wild eyed. I have watched “trainers” whip and choke down young horses who were frightened and confused, and I’ve seen (like many of you have) horses keep running – because they were afraid to stop running – with horrific injuries. Yes, horses like to run, but no horse is born dreaming of being run at terror-response-level speeds in a circle.

The worst thing I’ve ever seen was a filly – let’s call her Miss Dee – not quite 18 months old, a magnificent blue-black with two socks and a white star and stripe on her face, gentle, fast, and compliant, in a speed trial under tack for the second time. That little girl was whipped to breakneck speed, and terrified, ran through the rail. She lost her rider but kept running, making a horrendous gasping. Then her guts fell out. She had eviscerated herself on the broken fence but…kept running.

She made it another 40 yards or so before she fell, a two-foot wide streak of purplish blood behind her. She staggered and made a final lunge forward, digging into the earth with her front hooves as she fell. She died with an indescribable expression of horror and pain on her face. It happened so quickly, yet years later, I can still see it and smell the blood.

Her entrails lay in a steaming heap where they fell. All was silent for some seconds as those watching looked on in shock. I went to her and slid the bridle off of her head and just kneeled there, unable to speak. I don’t know how long it was, but then I became aware of people moving around me, and someone telling me to go get a wheelbarrow and haul those guts to the manure pile. Somebody else had already started the tractor to go bury her. In 20 minutes, she was gone. Just gone. No marker for her grave, not even buried whole.

That day was the end of many things for me. It took me years to be able to even talk about that day and that poor baby. I couldn’t work around the horses anymore; although I am just about ready to adopt some of racing’s throwaways and give back to the horses, I feel like I will need the support of like-minded people. Her death broke me, too.

Recently, I drove past and saw that where her unmarked grave was, there is now a small pond and it made me angry and sad that even in death, she was not left in peace.

Please, please share her story if you feel it appropriate. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and how much she meant to me and how very little she meant to others who should have cared.

If you do share her story, please do not identify the state from which you received this letter. Thank you for caring about the horses. God bless you.


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  1. Thank you for sharing. No ANIMAL should suffer like this. We must let the lobbyist, congressman, and senators know we must have laws changed for animals well being and safety. Laws must reflect large penalties for infractions committed on animals. Laws and stiff penalties will make corporate companies, race track owners and the like pay a bit more attention when they must pay dearly for any infractions.

  2. There is such a marked difference between the way people who truly appreciate and love horses feel and the contempt that those who only use them to make money have for them. This ugly business will NEVER be able to be regulated or redeemed in any way – the prospect for evil and greed will simply always bring out the very worst and lowest in people who are already scraping the ground. HORSE RACING NEEDS TO BE SHUT DOWN EVERY PLACE IT EXISTS IN THE WORLD. PERIOD. The human species needs to stop exploiting animals for their simple-minded loathsome entertainment. Want to bet on a creature that runs? Then run yourself. At least the person who does so makes a decision and has a choice. And I guarantee, even THIS business would turn corrupt – because the nature of betting in ANY way is nothing but corrupt.

  3. You are a wonderful person wanting to help. This is a horrible sport! I will not support this industry.

  4. So many people just have such wrong thinking about animals and horses in particular. The neighbor where I board recently made a comment to my horse’s caretaker that my horse “just needed a good beating” after he witnessed my horse showing a little personality. Why do people feel these animals, any animal, is ours to dominate and hurt? The answer is money and this thinking is pervasive in every incident where people “use” animals. I’m sickened over the story shared about this sweet filly who never knew love and peace during her short life. This motivates me to act on the behalf of horses!

  5. I have no use for those who earn a living from the entertainment of animal abuse. That’s just what it is too. Sea World, circuses and horse and dog racing, to name a few.
    This story is heartbreaking and greedy, absent horse owners need to stop this practice.

  6. I had to stop while reading this, tears flowed and my eyes were blurred. I fell ill and angry but i know that when you converse with people making money out of anything, they will not want to care who gets hurt, just keep the money coming. God help these horses.

  7. Years ago, at Fort Erie, a racehorse named PussNBoots, jumped the rail during a race, and jumped into the infield pond. Somehow, she was not injured. Now, every year, they have a race, the PussNBoots. The winning jockey has to jump the fence, and take a dip in the infield pond.
    They celebrate a horse, who was probably being whipped, was either terrified or just had had enough.

  8. I have always heard that many race horses live horribly cruel lives. I cried for Ms. Dee; I am so glad you got out of the horse racing business. I hope there is a Rainbow Bridge for horses and that God has his hand on Ms. Dee and is stroking her gently right now. As for the owners and trainers, I am sure there are some good ones but as far as the bad one, well, hope they get put out of business.

    • To everyone who has commented recently on the horrific death of the young filly, the callousness and indifference of the people who watched her die (other than the kind and caring author),and the hideous greed of the industry, it’s time to mobilize your emotions and energy to get behind a political movement to end horseracing in this country for good starting with the state of California. This movement is now getting traction with the very vocal support of Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Governor Gavin Newsom who have come out in support of ending horseracing in California. This would not be the first time that California is the frontrunner of a movement. Even if you do not live in California, you can write to Feinstein and Newsom to show the support of the American people. Once California sets the stage, it will move on to other states.

      I am not a Democrat and did not vote for either Feinstein or Newsom, but this movement can bring together people of all political beliefs who care about these animals.

      This would be the right way to honor the memory of that young filly who died so tragically, and so many others who live tortured lives judging from the numerous necropsies I have read.

      I grew up on a track. My father owned harness racers that raced at Liberty Bell and Brandywine. I loved watching the races but even back then illegal drugs were used and the animals were abused and then discarded. I turned my back on horseracing because I felt such pity for the horses. I haven’t spoken to anyone about the track or horseracing in 40 years. My friends are shocked when I tell them I had spent so much time at the track as a kid and teenager. After reading HRW’s on a regular basis, I can no longer be silent. I fully support this movement and am willing to commit time and money to it. It will be difficult because of the powerful interests that you all mentioned. However, it’s a cause worth fighting for.

      Channel your sadness over the loss of these magnificent animals and anger at the greedy industry and send letters to Feinstein and Newsom as well as your own local congressmen and governors. It’s time to end this insanity.


  10. A heartbreaking story that must have been very difficult to remember and relate. You are very courageous to share this. Could a small memorial be erected in Miss Dee’s honour at that site? Your efforts to shut down this industry help keep her memory alive in the hearts of the many good people out there who have compassion for these beautiful animals who are exploited by the worst of humanity.

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