Hearts and Minds

Two more recent letters (and some previous ones):

Today is the day. It’s been coming for a few years now and is a very difficult one for me. I have had horses since I was five and grew up at the tracks in Ohio. We currently have two horses. I have friends in the industry, including where I live in PA. I can no longer support the “sport” of horse racing. I will from now on, be an advocate for the horses, instead of the people who are abusing their horses. I can no longer say these people care about their horses when they continue to drug and kill them. I am already sharing the petition for PA with all of my friends. I hope I can make a difference. Thank you for your help in coming to this decision. – Kimberly Austin-Routhier

Dear Mr. Battuello: I never in my life thought I would be writing you a letter like this. I have loved horses and been a horseracing fan all my life. I am now 63. When I was a little girl, I grew up reading C.W. Anderson’s horse stories. When I was 10, my family moved here from Milwaukee, and I was so thrilled because I loved the Kentucky Derby and I now lived in the town where Churchill Downs was located.

Nothing is more beautiful than watching a thoroughbred run; noble, heroic, courageous, full of heart and spirit. But there is nothing noble or heroic about horseracing any longer. It has been destroyed by greed and cruelty.

For a time I naively thought that if we could get the “bad” people out of racing, then things would be better. But now I realize there is nothing but bad people involved in racing from the top to the bottom. The millionaires that churn out more horses than America could ever support and refuse to accept the slightest limit on their breeding programs. The veterinarians who have abdicated their responsibility to care for the animals in good faith and who drug helpless beasts in the eternal quest to win regardless of the harm to life and health. The trainers who care nothing for their charges, only their pocketbooks and reputations. The owners who drag ill-used and sick animals to race at racinos so they can make another hundred dollars or so.

I can’t take the naked greed and the naked cruelty anymore. No one, except for your group, has any true desire to reform things. Nothing is being done to protect horses from being abused until they die. All the measures proposed so far – a central horseracing authority, etc. – is just a sop to the people who know that horseracing is cruel. The death toll has become too much to bear. Everyday cruelty is the new normal.

I believe the only solution is to end horseracing for good. We ended greyhound racing because people thought it was cruel to dogs (and it was). Are horses any less? Perhaps because your everyday person has less exposure to horses than dogs is part of the gap. Horses are classed as livestock to most people, but just because they are does not give us permission to use them cruelly. Nor does it give us permission to torture animals until they die and kill them cruelly in slaughterhouses.

After all these years of loving thoroughbreds, I can no longer support racing. This has been a long time coming, but horseracing has changed so much that it is unrecognizable. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. I refuse to be part of the problem anymore. Your website has gone a long way towards changing my mind and my attitude. No more casual cruelty, no more casual death. I can’t take it anymore. – Jeanette Jackson

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  1. I had to look up “sop” for the meaning and got “Standard Operating Procedure” which is totally appropriate to describe the “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority” with their questionable “blue ribbon” nominating committee.
    I appreciate your thoughts, experiences and your realization that the Kentucky Derby and all of horseracing is INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES and not what we thought when we were growing up.

    It should never be overlooked that racing two-year-olds and three-year-olds is fundamentally wrong. It was wrong in every decade and every century. The Kentucky Derby is glorified abuse of horses. It has been since it began in 1875.

  2. One can only imagine how, in their backroom meetings, horse racing commissioners (industry bought), track venue operators, breeders, owners, and even jockey organizations are working frantically to keep their bottom lines flush and maintain the “myth” of horse racing. Public education, along with lawsuits, criminal animal abuse/cruelty arrests, prosecution, incarceration, and hefty fines may finally end this barbaric, perverse activity. At some point, some states may be ready to win a citizen initiative vote (proposition) that also-bought legislators cannot revoke.

  3. I wish I could have that kind of hope for Kentucky. We’re so backward that they just made animal cruelty a felony.

    • Another issue is the “big Lick”, culmination of soring and training gaited horses into a distorted version of a natural gaited movement. So disgusting and awful to look at. Things have become so perverse in that direction too! Poor horses!!!!

      • Foxtrotters too, although the little I’ve ventured into that world I’ve not seen anything as brutal as the soring etc involved with the Walkers. People are the most corrupt species.

  4. The so called people that are involved in this torture industry should have to go through what these horses go through. Let them feel what the horses do. This is disgusting and shameful.

  5. Wanda Diamond: by sop I meant “a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met.” It’s like a booby prize to shut up the complainers.

    • I think the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is that booby prize, but it won’t shut Horseracing Wrongs up!

      • The first time I ever read the word “sop” it was in the context of a Greek myth – “throwing a sop to Cerberus” (the 3-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell) – the classical definition is chiefly dialectal: a piece of food dipped or steeped in a liquid. Most often used to describe a conciliatory or propitiatory bribe, gift, or gesture. Taken from the ancient Greek and Roman custom of leaving gifts with corpses so that Cerberus (guardian of the gates of hell) would pass them by.

        SOP all caps would be Standard Operating Procedure in military parlance.

  6. My family was involved with horse racing, it seemed innocent enough at the beginning. but when I realised that the horses were a means to an end and not really loved and cared for until their natural end, I was disgusted. I remember my nmother being so calm when a foal was born premature and she decied the mare was not worth keeping for another breeding and she was sent to auction. I was horrified and never once wavered in my dislike of anything horse racing after that. Slso remember working at the track as a senior in highschool as a “hotwalker”. At first I was thrilled but then realised things were not good for the horses or myself. it was a dangerous job as many of the horses were crazed. I knew even then this was not nromal. I wqnt all horse racing banned.

    • Gini Denninger, thank you for speaking up on behalf of the horses. Your courage is commendable considering that your own mother is/was involved in this industry. (Fortitude: the strength of mind to bear pain and adversity with courage.)

  7. I wish ALL of the decent horse-loving people who have gotten fed up with the corruption that is horse racing would follow the eloquent example of Jeanette Jackson and actively organize across the country in support Patrick’s efforts to end this gruesome nightmare.

      • Your definition of sop is much more complete than the one that came up on Google in my search, abs314.

        • Haha – I’ve been a wordsmith and massive reader all my life, plus a fanatic researcher! And how many times does one have the luxury of helping to clarify a great word like “sop”? *grin*

  8. Thank you, Kimberly and Jeanette. I think Jeanette stated very well the conclusions that an an empathetic, intelligent human should arrive at. It’s also very true that this website is instrumental in speaking of the realities of horse racing.

    • If this animal abuse racket were ever put to an up or down vote nationwide …. it would be curtains for this torture. People are more into animals than ever,especially since ANIMAL PLANET came to be!!!

      • Awareness is the key. Besides television, there are so many articles and videos online that share details of animal abuse that it becomes overwhelming at how bad it is and how widespread and commonplace it is. Many of the things are usually hidden from public view so the undercover videos really create awareness of the disturbing things that people do with and to horses and other animals.
        I am looking forward to that vote that will eventually become a reality, at least in California, so a lot of the cruelties committed on horses will be stopped.

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