Yes, Standardbreds Die: An “Apparent Broken Neck” at Saratoga Harness

While true that Standardbreds do not die as often as their Thoroughbred and QuarterHorse cousins, they do still die. (Note: Life on the harness circuit is just as cruel and mean and, in fact, usually persists longer than the other forms, with the typical Standardbred’s servitude lasting up to ten years – and beyond; after the racing people have had their way, the abuse often continues under the heavy hand of groups like the Amish. Then, for many or most, those same slaughterhouses.) And die, in the most horrific of ways: In the 12th at Saratoga last night, Never Not Dancing suffered an “apparent broken neck” – an “accident,” they’re calling it. She was four years old.


  1. Horseracing is Animal Cruelty and that includes Standardbred harness horses as well as all of the other flat track racing breeds and the horses used in steeplechase/ jumps racing. The horses endure confinement and abuse that many human beings cannot comprehend. Horses exploited for racing suffer and they suffer in silence for the most part.

  2. ,

    On Tue, Apr 12, 2022 at 1:26 PM Horseracing Wrongs wrote:

    > Patrick Battuello posted: “While true that Standardbreds do not die as > often as their Thoroughbred and QuarterHorse cousins, they do still die. > (Note: Life on the harness circuit is just as cruel and mean and, in fact, > usually persists longer than the other forms, with the typical ” >

  3. Ok, I’ll try this again. For some reason, I just had to get a new password-lately, a lot of sites are telling me I’m entering the wrong password. Anyone had this trouble?
    I know a number of Amish in Chautauqua County, NY. I want to point out, that not all Amish are very strict in all things.
    This county does have more strict Amish, mostly near the city of Mayville. But near the towns of Sherman, Clymer, and French Creek, they are more permissive. Just as in any religion, the Amish have varying degrees of strictness, according to which Bishop you follow. And which sect. The Amish I know, do go to livestock auctions to buy horses and mules. Some even deal directly with standardbred owners and trainers out of Buffalo Raceway, in the county north of them, Erie County.
    I’ve often seen the Amish walking alongside a buggy or farm wagon, as the horse pulls up a hill. Since this area is the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, there are some long, steep hills here. I’ve seen this, all times of the year, and with full and empty wagons. I’ve seen the Amish stop their buggy for a while, pulling off the road, to water their horse and rest them. If you stop to ask if they’d like you to call anyone, they’ll explain what’s going on. Everything is fine, they’re just making sure the horse doesn’t get over tired or over heated.
    This Amish sect will use doctors and veterinarians, if it’s obvious that’s the kind of attention an illness or injury needs.
    They “retire” horses, and let them out to pasture every day. I and my family have visited many of these horses, retired to a parent’s farm if they don’t have the acreage ( not all Amish have farms. Many run businesses like woodworking and leather working, bee keeping, and baking , and only own a few acres to put a canning and kitchen garden on)with treats. Kids often practice grooming these horses, learn about horses bodies, and how to identify when something is beyond rest and home remedies, and needs a vet.
    All the Amish I know, give their horses at least a few hours pasture time, each day, and at least a half day, if not a full days rest. They rotate their horses-most have two buggy horses, and 4 farm horses. Of course, during harvests, this is hard to do, and buggy horses are often trained to work with lighter farm machinery in order to get things done quicker, so the horses can rest in the late afternoon, and not work until dark.
    I also never saw a farm with a puppy mill.
    The Amish I know, don’t think highly of people who work horses to death, or run puppy mills.
    For one thing, they depend on healthy, strong horses, and they know how you feed and treat them will go a long way to extending their working lives. There are some prosperous Amish who could afford to buy a new buggy horse every year, but they don’t treat their horses in a way that that is necessary.
    If a horse becomes terminally ill, or is injured ( there are some idiots who think it’s fun to whiz as fast as possible and go as close as possible to a buggy, banging on their horns), they’ll usually take care of the horse themselves, if the horse can still walk. They dig a grave in an out of the way spot, and shoot the horse and bury it. I’ve seen a few of these graves, while hiking on trails that go along the boundaries of farms. Someone will have planted perennial flowers out in the middle of nowhere, to mark a horse’s grave.
    Of course, there are sadists, who could care less if they work a horse to death, or keep dogs in tiny cages to give north over and over. I’ve never met any, but I’ve heard they exist in Chautauqua County. I’ve been told about them, been told their names and where they live. There’s always a lot of head shaking, and “I don’t know how a person can be that way” comments at the same time.

    • Karen, my Maternal Grandparents lived in Ephrata Pennsylvania. I grew up with hearing the clipitty clop of horse and buggy’s going up and down the narrow street.

    • I’ve never seen Amish who DIDN’T have the horses on pasture. Good for the few… very few… that you refer to; I’ve lived around Amish my entire life and to this day have never seen anything but broken down, underfed, neglected horses in their possession. That includes the huge drafts they frequently take to auction with overgrown, thrushy hooves, unkempt names and tails, eyes damaged by trauma, and covered in scars and wounds. They farm several thousand acres around here.
      I used to know a lady who was born Amish. She said that their beliefs tell them that the animals are theirs to use (and use up) as they see fit.
      The same Amish I refer to above have Standardbred buggy horses that look like crap, and you never see those horses get water or even tried so they can snatch grass when tethered for hours after being trotted for miles, like to a sale. I made the mistake several years ago of going to an Amish horse sale. I won’t describe the horrors I saw that they tried to pass off as minor issues or as “lazy horses”. It doesn’t matter who is abusing the horses, don’t apologise for it.

    • Your experience is different than mine. I bred Standardbreds and going to the Amish was hell for a horse. They are also the largest dealers of horses for meat. “Amished” is a euphemism for slaughter.

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