Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I've had so many people ask me how I feel about Eight Belles having to be euthanized after her spectacular race at the Derby. For starters, I did not see the Derby. As a rule I am not a fan of horse racing. I have heard so many horror stories about behind the scenes 'training' and cruelty that I simply cannot stomach the thought of it. So I just keep my distance.
As for Eight Belles, in my opinion they did the right thing. Two broken ankles is just not something a horse will recover from. These gorgeous animals are so young and high strung that the time and recovery it would take to make it so she could have even put weight back on her ankles would have been much too long for her to endure. And then what? She could not ever race again. She might have been a pet to someone until laminitis claimed her ankles and she would be put down, like Barbaro. I'm not saying she couldn't have survived such an injury; I'm just saying the logistics of her recovery, not to mention getting her off the track without further injuring herself would have been an amazing feat.
These types of horses are bred to run and win. Without that, she is worthless to the owners. As a filly she could have been bred for her offspring - hoping they would turn out to have the winning gene, but with this injury she could not have carried a foal. I think the jockey did nothing wrong. She always ran to the inside. The stumble she took is not uncommon, breaking both ankles at the same time is.
I think the breeding industry is over the top. They breed these horses for one thing and one thing only -to race and win. Non-producers are often neglected and slaughtered. When I was a kid growing up and doing some psuedo-training, I had a hookup at a track in Cincinnati. The horses that were not fast enough to win would go to auction. I would get a couple from my friend for free and try my best to turn them into a decent riding horse and a jumper. They were often so hot headed and nervous, it was asking the impossible. I turned out some good horses, but I saw first hand the damage done. The problem is they start these horses before they are fully grown. Often their legs are shot and any sort of riding is bad for them. They often end up with arthritis at a very early age, or suffer from laminitis and navicular disease.
I do not know what can be done to eliminate this type of abuse to these horses. The sport is so rich and those involved have their claws deep into the system. Change is not likely to happen easily. I know PETA is involved, wanting to change horse racing down to its core. I hope they have some luck. I would like to see the sport more legitimate and care given to the horses be everyone's first priority.
She ran the race of her life. She was a beautiful dark grey filly.
Posted by Wrider II at 7:36 AM