The website for “The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens” in Pine Mountain, Georgia, boasted the following in advance of this year’s running on November 7: “Each November, magnificent champion thoroughbred horses gather on the Callaway grounds to charge through our stunning woodland setting. Thrilling jumps and deft maneuvers will leave you breathless, while the foxhound parade will put a smile on your face. On Saturday, savor a picnic on the infield, show off a traditional race hat, and soak in the festive hunt club atmosphere.”
In this “festive atmosphere,” says the Stewards’ Report, two of those “magnificent champion thoroughbred horses” were killed. Killed. In the 4th race, Zanzi Win, five, “fell at the next to last hurdle, was not able to get up, and was euthanized on the course.” Very next race, Just a Whim, four, “fell at the last fence, did not get up and was euthanized on the course.” Two dead horses right there on the course in back to back races. Still, the stewards closed with this:
“The race committee is to be congratulated on their efforts to put on the race meet and putting in place all the procedures and safeguards to enable patrons to attend in a safe environment. The turf on the racecourse was in excellent condition and the clerk of the course is to be congratulated on providing lush turf.”
As to those “patrons” – why were they even there in the midst of a raging pandemic? – let me just say this: Shaming, the experts admonish, is an ineffective way to modify other people’s behavior. Worse, we’re told, it likely deepens divides, more firmly entrenching positions. But sorry, with the wicked steeplechase I can think of no other word but shame. If you’ve never been but are considering, there’s no excuse: information on steeplechase cruelty is readily available. If you have, you know first hand that horses fall and are injured regularly at these events – in addition to the two dead, six other horses went down at Callaway, one colliding with Zanzi – and you must know that some die (as mentioned, the two above were euthanized where they lay). Which means you consciously prioritize your own fleeting pleasure over the suffering and death of other sentient beings. For shame. For shame.