Hey HISA: How About a Mental Health Symposium for the Horses?

The following was issued as a press release yesterday:

“The Jockeys’ Guild and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) hosted a symposium at Keeneland today in order to bring the critical issue of jockey mental health to the forefront and generate discussion on how the Thoroughbred industry can work together to advance the mental wellness of jockeys across the country.

“Jockeys’ Guild President and CEO Terry Meyocks and HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus welcomed attendees and opened the symposium with remarks on the two organizations’ shared goals of addressing the factors that adversely affect rider mental health and developing mechanisms for increased access to mental wellness resources.”

Lazarus added: “HISA’s responsibility to oversee safety in racing certainly includes the mental wellbeing of its athletes.”

So of course I’m wondering, what about the mental wellbeing of the jockeys’ “teammates,” the industry’s other “athletes”? You know, the ones who are kept locked in solitary confinement for over 23 hours a day. You know, the ones who, as literal chattel, are forever being bought and sold and sold and bought. You know, the ones who are being led around by lip chains, controlled with chunks of metal in their mouths, and, lest we forget, whipped (by those same mentally-struggling jockeys). You know, the ones – at least 90% of them – who are suffering from stomach ulcers. You know, the ones regularly (every day, that is) losing their brethren to death, or worse, to slaughter.

So what do you say, Ms. Lazarus? Can we get to work planning that follow-up symposium? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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  1. “HISA’s responsibility to oversee safety in racing certainly includes the mental wellbeing of its athletes.” So the mental wellbeing of the equine “athletes” are of no concern but that of the jockeys who ride, torment and whip the horses is a concern? This double standards IS horse racing.

    • I’m not surprised they’re talking about mental illness in jockeys – you’d have to be a psychopath to make a living beating horses the age equivalent of human toddlers.

      • This is an oversimplified version of this issue but people who sustain severe head trauma are more inclined to commit suicide. Head trauma or brain concussions may have contributed to certain football players as well as certain jockeys committing suicide.
        I think the talk about mental health resources for jockeys is mostly all talk more than anything. There are too many people in this industry that are hell-bent on exploiting the young horses and killing them hoping to find a winner that can make them rich or more rich or famous or whatever. I don’t think the so-called horsemen care anymore about the mental health of jockeys than they do about the physical or mental health of the horses.

  2. When we rode horses in the mornings we always disliked the use of ring bits! We also never used the whip let alone carry one. The pictures above clearly show many horses have given up, just accepting their lot in life. Sad to see.

  3. “… developing mechanisms for increased access to mental wellness resources.” What? Is this a real thing? Or is this just more public relations gobbledygook?

    [Causing injuries to horses, both physical suffering and mental suffering, is a fixed part of horseracing. That’s a given. The variable is: to what degree?]

    Riding horses is considered a high-risk activity. You have to sign a waiver that says you understand that and that you can’t sue the owners of the horses or the business that is renting the horses out to people with varying degrees of riding skills at a stable that offers trail rides to the public.
    Racing is a much higher-risk activity than pleasure riding or trail riding. The jockeys would know this. It is believed that, as human beings, jockeys have a choice. I’m not too sure what their choices are when they come to the United States from a foreign country, especially South America. I’m not suggesting that they should have chosen horseracing, but they did choose it. When things don’t work out so good, do there “corporate overlords” hold them “hostage” in some way, shape or form?
    Just saying.
    The people in this industry abuse horses for their own selfish greed, fame and fortune. It makes me want to throw up when I see articles about certain individuals spending a crapload of Millions of Dollars on a few racehorses.
    What do they care about the horse when they bought the horse for the social aspect of being involved in this egregiously barbaric industry? All they care about is how much money and personal publicity they can get from their peers and such.
    Take the example of the man who bought and named and raced and used for stud and complained about how the horse only liked cheap mares. They had to inject him with hormone shots to get the horse to perform at stud to their satisfaction. He was treated as a money-making “machine” for his owner. The owner finally sold him and did not want anything more to do with that horse. The owner didn’t want to be bothered with him. He had made his millions off the horse and evidently just wanted to be done with him.
    The horse was named Fusaichi Pegasus.
    How much do you think he cared about the mental well-being of this horse? This industry is not about keeping horses healthy or happy in the true sense of the word. If the owners and the trainers are given the go-ahead to enter their horse/s and run them, these morally depraved people are “happy” at the expense of the horse’s well-being. That’s their mindset.

  4. Guessing you read that this 26-year-old horse died yesterday at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky. That’s a beautiful facility and a pretty decent age for his demise despite all your negative intimations. Calm down.

    • You’re gonna tell Wanda to calm down using an old racehorse whose na m living out all of his years in beautiful surroundings

      • ACK! Thought new website format would have eliminated these ridiculous auto-posts while I’m in the middle of a thought:(
        Can you delete these, please? Thanks!

      • One of the most beautiful creatures ever. A gentleman who witnessed the birth when he was born said he was the most beautiful foal he’d had ever seen. And very shortly thereafter, he was looking at all the humans standing there kind of checking them out.

    • Karen, who are you representing? You make it sound like you think it’s okay that horses are exploited for big money as long as they are owned by rich people, exploited by rich people and have “beautiful facilities” in which to exploit and enslave them in.

    • He was euthanized due to infirmities of old age. At the age of 26 years, it sounds like he was old, but you know he could have lived to be 36 years old. Horses can live that long, you know.

    • I’ll try again: Fusaichi Pegasus has universal name recognition that nearly all other racehorses lack. I don’t think Wanda is out of line for pointing out his circumstances before he was retired to true safety and nice living conditions.
      She was just pointing out how even the top-level horses of his caliber get used up and tossed away by those they “fail” to continue to EARN for. (FP truly had a home for life. How many others are given the same?)

      • Thank you, Kelly. I think the horse was sick and tired of his “second career” of being forced to breed mares he didn’t want to breed and the hormone injections were to control him into doing something he didn’t really want to do. I believe his Japanese owner basically wanted to wash his hands of the struggle with this horse besides he sold him for a record high price anyway.

    • Are you kidding me Karen? FP, isn’t even a minuscule blip on radar. Karen….I would venture to guess 99% of the used up spit out horses that were forcibly bred for this not even blip on radar niche corny bullshit non-sport die alone and horrific DEATHS. Give me a break you dingbat….they live slave lives and die no way you would prefer to die.

      • You’re absolutely correct, Bonnie. Who would prefer to live the enslaved lives that racehorses are forced to live? Being locked up 23 hours straight out of every 24-hour period of time is no way to live for horses. They should not be subject to being confined to a stall longer than 10 hours every 24-hour period of time. It’s bad for both their physical and mental health the way racehorses are treated both on and off the racetracks.

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