Born in February 2000, G. W.’s Skippie was raced 17 times, earning over $123,000 for owner Glen Warren and trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. On September 26, 2004, he was injured in a race at Louisiana Downs. “Career” – at least on the track – over. Who Warren sold him to is unclear, but eventually he landed at Clear Creek Stud in 2005. And thus began Skippie’s second round of industry servitude, the breeding shed.
Clear Creek bred Skippie until 2016, whereupon they sold him to Randall and Jarett Wolfe. Flash forward to an article last month in the Thoroughbred Daily News. In relaying results from the “Ocala Breeders’ Breeze Show,” the TDN mentioned “the late Arkansas-based stallion G.W.’s Skippie” and quoted Randall Wolfe: “My son got G.W.’s Skippie from Clear Oak Stallions [sic] back in Fulsom [sic], Louisiana. G.W.’s Skippie hurt his knee in his last race and that finished him up. He is the only stallion we have had and, unfortunately, he passed about a week ago.” Wolfe added: “He was a very, very nice horse. He had a good mind and he put that into his babies too.”
To say that Skippie’s “passing” is among the worst we have presented on these pages would be an understatement. The “very, very nice horse” in the throes of death (warning: this video, which surfaced on social media, is extremely difficult to watch):
At death, Skippie was owned by Brittany Winans, who had acquired him directly from the Wolfes. Our Joy Aten was able to secure Randall Wolfe’s number from the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Horsemen’s Association (more on them in a moment). Joy spoke to Randall on July 14. He confirmed the handoff: “He was getting old so we gave him to this girl – she was going to breed him to a few of her mares.” Asked when, he replied, “two or three years ago.” Curiously, though, Skippie bred thrice in 2019 – and the Wolfes are the last recorded owners/breeders. So it appears the Wolfes had him through last year and probably “gave him” to Winans this spring.
In any event, the Wolfes were aware of at least some of the goings-on at Winans’. Wolfe told Joy: “[Skippie] got caught up in a fence and cut his leg up pretty bad.” Also: “He got into a pond and couldn’t get out by himself.”
When asked if he knew how emaciated Skippie was, how he could not even rise on his own, Wolfe said: “Some of these people don’t know how to feed TBs – you can’t just give them a handful of feed.” He then said he was told Skippie was in bad shape and was “put down” (“put down,” it turns out, by a shot to the head).
As for the Arkansas Horsemen’s Association, after first casting doubt that the horse in the video was Skippie (it is), they have decided to not press for Winans’ prosecution. A followup call (to ask the same) to Randall Wolfe has thus far gone unanswered.
Brittany Winans? I don’t imagine you’ll need much help from me conjuring adjectives. I’ll simply say this: What she did – torturing (or allowing the torturing of) another sentient being to death – is evil. Evil. In the final analysis, however, this is but another story of the racing-refuse pipeline: The Wolfes, instead of caring for Skippie for the remainder of his days after he had fattened their bank accounts, dumped him off to whomever; and dumping him off to whomever is no different than delivering him directly to the slaughterhouse gates. In other words, Mr. and Mr. Wolfe, Skippie’s withered insides are all over your greedy, little hands.
But as uncomfortable as this may be for some, there’s a larger truth at play here: We cannot protect horses (dogs, cats, etc.) from being tortured to death when anyone can acquire horses, and when there exists no serious deterrent to torturing them. Anyone can acquire horses because horses are things to acquire, and there is no serious deterrent because serious deterrents are reserved for violations of others’ rights. Horses are not “others”; they have no rights. Vicious circle defined.
What’s more, horses are chattel of the lowest order – manufactured, traded, used, and trashed purely on a human’s whim. There are no agencies regulating their titles, no safety nets monitoring their care. And if found abused, the victims of “animal cruelty” as defined by the law, there are no prosecutorial crusades initiated on their behalf or sentencing messages from the bench. There is no justice, not even a pretense to justice, because there is no will within society – not at the legislative level, not at the enforcement level, not at the judicial level, and most important, not at the public level – to (seriously) punish property owners for committing wrongs against their property. In the end, as long as we own them, there is nothing we can do to stop the cruelty, at least not in any meaningful way. Still, we can go a long way toward ending much of this horror (and make no mistake, there are thousands of Skippies out there) by ending the nation’s largest producer of equine products – horseracing.