An HW Reader on Jobs, Aftercare

Hi Patrick,

I just became aware of your blog and want to commend you and your efforts to shut down horseracing. The argument that doing so will cost thousands of jobs is a stubborn one. I moved to Pittsburgh when the steel industry shut down, costing thousands of jobs. It was a very difficult time, but the city came back and many were reemployed in other industries, particularly healthcare.

As a lifelong horse person, I rescued an OTTR 26 years ago. He was 2 and hadn’t come into his sexual maturity. In other words, his testicles hadn’t dropped and didn’t until he was 3. It was painful for him to run, and he was destined for slaughter. I bought him from his trainer, who was also the stable owner where I rode.

The reason I mention this is because of the discussion of aftercare. To care for a horse for his lifetime requires money (it’s not cheap) and undivided attention. And that’s just one horse. Aftercare for the numbers of foals coming through the industry pipeline is untenable and not realistic. The industry must be shut down, giving no more reasons for breeders to continue in their quest to find the next Secretariat.

Over 15 years ago, I was involved in an FBI investigation of horse fraud in the western PA/eastern Ohio area. A man was advertising good homes for retired or unwanted horses in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In reality, the man was defrauding horse owners through misrepresentation. Instead of finding good homes for old or unwanted horses, he was selling them at auction or sending them to slaughter for money by the pound.

I learned about this the day the man showed up with a trailer at the stable where I boarded my horse. I was stunned that a woman at the stable had answered the ad and readied her 22-year-old Thoroughbred to leave with the man. I took down his plate number and another boarder and I pursued the man with the help of the DA (also a horse lover) and the FBI, which took the case upon her request. My friend and I worked with the FBI and got the man to civil court where he was fined thousands of dollars. The Post-Gazette pulled the ad and we successfully stifled his heinous operation.

A person or society is only as moral as the treatment and esteem for its most vulnerable. In that light, I send gratitude and utmost respect for everything you’re doing for the horses.

Elizabeth Van Dusen 

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  1. What a wonderful letter! I was sorry to hear this week that our governor Hochul (who has many policies I truly support) has bailed out Vernon Downs here in New York. The 250 jobs saved was a big selling point. I don’t know what these jobs pay, but I can’t imagine they’re very well paid. Take the money and retrain people to work in health care or education, areas that are in critical need of personnel, plus the people would be contributing something positive to society.

  2. Thank you, Elizabeth! I enjoyed reading your letter. I respect your decision to take action against someone committing fraud. That’s awesome!

  3. I’m not concerned about jobs. I’m concerned about the horses. Countless thoroughbreds would be slaughtered if racing were to end. If you think they will all magically be “rescued” you are dreaming. Equines are expensive to keep. There is a dire shortage of good horse rescues now. Most are money scams. As for breeding, top tier bloodlines would continue to be bred and sold to foreign interests to countries like China and Korea where they would face living in a culture with no animal rights. Ending racing won’t stop breeding. Ending the industry all sounds good on paper, but it’s not reality. What happened to the greyhounds and carriage horses? It would be so much worse for the thoroughbreds. It’s not about people and jobs. It’s about the horses. This battle must be fought on a different front, through legislation and educating the public.

    • Jay Privman has said it’s “Never been about the racing”….”it’s ALWAYS been about breeding”. So yes Karen, it’s always just been about the GREED of these fat cat scumbag pigs. These amoral scumbags don’t care that they are forcibly creating unwanted lives that will have nowhere to find safety. That’s about as pure evil as it gets. I hope the breeders have people shove wads of balled up money down their throats,because what they are doing and the agony they are creating is INEXCUSABLE.

    • Countless TBs are slaughtered now. And as for greyhounds, when greyhound racing ended in the majority of states, there were so many homes waiting to adopt them that there were waiting lists. Which definitely would not be the case for horses.
      As for breeding for other countries- those countries also have some very active breeding programs now. They are breeding a better product than what the American breeders are producing, so for the most part- those breeders are only coming here to snatch up the million dollar earners. They aren’t interested in the $4,000 claimers, which is the large majority of breeding stock in America. The Japanese and Korean buyers will not be enough to keep these billion dollar farms afloat. As it is- I’ve seen in recent years that many of these farms are starting to slowly transition to growing crops for bourbon in KY. They see the writing on the wall. They know that TB racing is nearing an end.

    • Karen, this website does a very good job of educating the public on the mind-blowing numbers of horses that have been and continue to be injured and killed by the horseracing industry every day.
      There have been bills introduced into the legislative branch of government. I’m thinking of New York State and Linda Rosenthal for one. There are other people who have been working towards passing legislation against certain types of animal cruelty in their given state. Of course, there is opposition to any effort to stop horseracing. The people in the racing industry have always used the excuse of “jobs” as a justification to keep horse racing going — it is not that we care about the jobs. That is what the racing industry uses as a way to get their own way with the politicians.
      Millionaires and Billionaires who can sink millions of dollars into horseracing itself can also sink millions of dollars into a certain politician’s political campaign in exchange for government subsidies and government-directed benefits including tax write-offs and tax exemptions. This is the reality.
      As time goes by, the public interest in watching and/or betting on racehorses being whipped and drugged, doped, medicated to perform declines and so does the numbers of new Thoroughbred foals. Every year since 1986, the foal numbers have been in decline. There were a very few years when there was no drop in numbers. Overall, the number of new Thoroughbred foals is less than 18,000 (estimated by The Jockey Club) for the current year whereas the year 1986 was a peak year at over 50,000 new Thoroughbred foals.
      Horseracing is definitely in decline. If it were not for the rich people like Mike Repole, to name only one, and the lobbying for racing to continue, and politicians who accept donations from these “rich” individuals as well as the horsemen’s groups who are hell-bent to keep horseracing afloat, horseracing would decline much more quickly.

      • Horse racing is in decline but I believe that’s in large part due to gambling opening up so many other venues. Most people would rather sit at a slot machine than watch horses run. Handicapping is too much effort for the younger generation. Gambling is the foundation of the industry but I do believe that’s slipping away. Breeding top tier horses is big money business, but US breeders have bred our thoroughbreds into the ground. They suffer from severe fragility issues. The result is the number of breakdowns we see today. I simply believe if we are going to jump we should look where we’ll be landing, or rather, where the horses will be landing. In the meantime, there is so much legislation that could be passed to protect race horses, age limits, restrictions on their number of starts, more mandatory vet checks, forcing owners to pay for aftercare, and most of all illegalizing the exportation of US horses to slaughter. It’s imperative our horses be protected from slaughter. More important than even ending racing. It would save all horses from a torturous demise. We owe them that. As long as our legislators are allowing Big Lick to continue torturing horses with impunity, racing isn’t going anywhere for the time being. The public must pressure their representatives to act on horse slaughter exportation so the horses will have a soft landing when racing falls. If it weren’t for big money the industry would’ve fallen long before now.

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