Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All the Pretty Horses

From The Paper Tyger

Since I'm still in the midst of sorting out what's next, I thought I'd follow Merlin's advice to Wart (Arthur, in T.H. White's amazing The Once and Future King): when you are sad, learn something. And while I wouldn't say I'm exactly sad, I certainly am a bit rudderless, so learning can't be a bad thing.

As a life long horse lover (and animal lover in general) the whole issue of horse slaughter is one that is fairly new to me and utterly heartbreaking. The past two Triple Crown seasons I was glued to NYT reporter Joe Drape's blog, The Rail. He had a few guest bloggers and all of them were insightful or interesting and they each shed new light on different angles of the horse industry. One of the best was Alex Brown who writes and operates Alex Brown Racing in addition to galloping horses for Steve Asmussen at Woodbine in Canada. In addition to his coverage of Barbaro and his brothers, Nicanor and Lentenor, Mr. Brown is one of the most well-spoken and passionate advocates for horses and against horse slaughter.

I love all aspects of equestrian sport, from racing, to steeplechasing and eventing, but now as I am learning more about the industry--and yes, it seems it is an industry--that is horse slaughter, it is beyond disturbing. That we humans treat these regal creatures with so little respect is shameful. We love the sheer beauty of watching them run and compete, and seeing them give their all, but what happens after their career is done? It's not so much different from rescuing greyhounds after their racing days are over, but after reading a few of Mr. Brown's pieces it is difficult to imagine ever being at a racetrack without wondering what is to become of the gelding who came in last, or the filly who just never found her stride.

I'm off to read more of Mr. Brown's work, there are great links on his website (click on Alex Brown above) to some of the guest commentaries he's written and more about what we can all do. Take a few minutes and look around and see if you aren't moved to write a few letters in support of anti-slaughter legislation or to assist with retraining racehorses to be dressage or jumping horses.

Surely it seems naive to worry so much about horses when people don't treat each other very well in many cases. But how we treat animals, says a good deal about us as humans, too. I know that I won't be able to plead ignorance on this issue any longer, and hopefully, the more of people who are made aware by Mr. Brown's efforts, the more will want to take action. I'm late to this party, but I hope I can make up for lost time.

For all the beauty, grace, and strength that horses share with us, seeing that they live out their lives comfortably and happily--whether they are a Triple Crown winner or a colt who never won a race--seems a small effort on our part.
Posted by The Paper Tyger at Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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