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Old 02-23-2018, 02:07 PM   #1
Mulerider
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The ugly underside of our favorite sport...

I would like to preface this post by disclosing that I'm a lifelong hunter, not particularly squeamish but fully committed to the humane dispatch of any animal; I also eat what I kill, and won't kill what I won't eat.

With that out of the way, most of us are aware that racehorses that fail to perform satisfactorily on the track or show a profit to its connections may face unpleasant futures.

Far too many young, healthy thoroughbreds are consigned to the slaughterhouse pipeline daily, guilty of no offense other than low speed figures. The slaughter pipeline begins with the sale of the horse either at auction, where it is purchased by a kill buyer, or directly to the kill buyer himself. Most U.S. tracks have written policies prohibiting the knowing sale of a racehorse to a kill buyer, complete with sanctions for the owner or trainer. Yet many tracks ignore enforcement of their own rules. (Looking straight at you, Delta Downs/Boyd Gaming.)

The second stop in the pipeline is the so-called "kill lot," a holding facility that collects horses until a full trailerload is possible. These kill lots offer inadequate food, shelter, and water, and no attempt is made to segregate the weak from the strong, the grown from the fillies and colts. The stronger horses eat, the weaker ones don't. Often the horses are consigned to stand in mud up to their knees, barely able to move. Stressed-out horses often damage each other, sometimes seriously, through bites or kicks; the victims receive no treatment.

The final step is inside a packed trailer for hundreds of miles to the slaughterhouse itself. There are no active horse slaughterhouses in the U.S., but it is still legal to export horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. Canada has regulations in place to help ensure that slaughter methods are humane, to the extent that is possible in such circumstances. Mexico has regulations too, but they are not enforced. And Mexico is where the majority of our discarded racehorses end up.

There is legislation pending in Congress that would prohibit the export of horses for slaughter. The House version is HR 113. The Senate version is S1706. Both bills are designated the SAFE act; officially the purpose of the bill is to prevent horse meat from being used for human consumption due to the drugs typically administered to horses. Regardless of Act's intent, it will serve the dual purpose of shutting down the slaughter pipeline.

I'm fully aware that there are 20,000 thoroughbreds foaled annually, and that only a fraction of them will be successful on the track. Fair enough. But the industry needs to start a conversation about the treatment and ultimate futures of the equine athletes that don't quite measure up.

The following was written by a person who I believe is not a native English-speaking person. I made a couple of punctuation and grammatical corrections, but nothing whatsoever to add or detract from the content.

A brief description of a horse slaughterhouse in Mexico:

The horse shakes her head frantically when the door of the killing box is closed and trapped within it. A worker buries, in her back and around her neck, a small, sharp knife, seven, eight, nine times. She, with her eyes wide, frantically lowers and raises her head while the worker stabs her again and again. On the tenth stroke of the knife she falls to the ground, bloodied and paralyzed, but still alive. She lays there for two minutes before being hoisted by her leg and lifted into the air, hung
upside down to be bled, slaughtered in the midst of terrible pain, fully conscious and terrified


It is my understanding that the "killing box" is merely a narrow pipe chute, like all horse vets use. And that being an assembly line operation, the next horse in line is watching what is happening in front of him.

Respectfully, I ask your support for the pending legislation, if you're so inclined. A quick email or phone call, asking that the bills be brought to the floor and stating your position, would help.

Congressional contacts by zip code

Thank you, and sorry for the long post.

Mule
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Old 02-23-2018, 02:25 PM   #2
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Pretty sickening stuff, but something that needs to be presented front and center to everyone involved if successful action is to be taken.
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Old 02-23-2018, 03:06 PM   #3
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Unreal. Just sickening. I want to post something and I don't even know what to say.
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Old 02-23-2018, 03:32 PM   #4
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What a compelling and poignant post. As horrible as it is to read such things, thank you so much for your post Mulerider.
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:04 PM   #5
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Yep, it is a part of something I struggle with, so I do quite a lot of donations to the various rescues. I would say 60% of my overall charity is towards horse rescues.

Have heard that about 40% of the annual foal crop goes to slaughter, but part of me recognizes not every thoroughbred born is intended for racing. Some are born to be food. i think the stat is that 1-in-8 horses that actually end up racing go to slaughter.

Its also a problem for all horse sports, thoroughbreds aren't the only horses going to slaughter. There are thoroughbreds going to slaughter that come from other disciplines as well.

I also follow a lot of what Alex Brown says about it as well as read his book Missionville which is basically about life at Penn National.

Here's a good interview.

https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/a...ow-can-change/

Quote:
them? They end up in the slaughter pipeline. It’s the way it is.

People say, ‘we have all these rescues now, you don’t need to do that.’ But that’s not true. There’s not enough room in a rescue to take all these Thoroughbreds. And, unfortunately, a lot of these Thoroughbreds are broken down because of a claiming system that allowed that to happen. They can’t re-home a lot of them. They need to go to a sanctuary, where they can retire forever, and when they’re 5 or 6 years old, that’s a lot of time.
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Yours is an unflinching look at the racing industry, but in many respects, you paint a sympathetic picture of many of the people working in it - especially those scrabbling to make a living within the sport. When I read the book, I was reminded of something owner Maggi Moss once told me, about how racing could be headed back to its ‘Sport of Kings’ roots, when only those with large disposable incomes could afford to own racehorses.

When you live paycheck to paycheck, it encourages bad behavior by some. You’ve got to do right by you and your family. Sometimes, that’s by doing wrong in other things. But that’s an interesting debate: should horse racing be an elitist sport or not? You could argue that’s what it is in this country, in the UK. Here, horseracing is a hobby. The majority of people will not make money out of racing in the UK, not as owners. No way.

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Old 02-23-2018, 11:48 PM   #6
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All in the pursuit of livelihoods for horsemen. Profits for businessmen. Entertainment for players. Humans are fleshy balls of contradictions...liberty, equality, fraternity, faith, hope and love...and KILL KILL KILL...you see these THINGS (animals) are not really FEELING beings are they...?

Neither are cows, pigs, chickens, fish...Horses are not sentient beings are they...? Horses are not children of god like the rest of mankind....there is a big difference...sure just keep telling ourselves the same ol stories...while we wolf another filet mignon down...the human culture is ANIMAL HELL, face it...and we are their tormentors...slaughterhouses are worse than nazi and soviet concentration camps...

...I personally cannot face the truth of it..I like my steaks as much as the other guy....its all about exploitation, not even survival for mankind anymore...man is a vicious animal despite all the culture, the rationalizations...
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:16 AM   #7
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Horse racing is a cruel and shrewd business even at its very greatest of levels.

It is a tough business in which very few make money, yet billions are spent annually.

One of my personal favorite tracks to wager upon has been getting lambasted lately due to the sending of numerous horses to these kill lots. Anybody immune to bottom level racing tries to shy away, or shake an angry finger at such practices.

However at these bottom level tracks, there are real people trying to scratch out a living. Most don't make much of a living at all, and have to make tough decisions such as getting what they can from the horses they have.

We'll never hear of the superstars of the sport with such practices, as they simply shelve off their lesser horses by dropping them so far down the claiming ranks that they become somebody elses's problem. And those horses eventually end up at tracks like Delta Downs, Retama Park, Turf Paradise, Fonner Park, what have you.

It isn't cheap to even own, train, feed, and run horses at the very bottom of levels. Vet fees, vaccinations, food, jockey fees, entrance fees, simple day to day costs. What do you do with a barn of 20 horses in which the majority of them are running in $20K or less races? Quit, or try to make ends meet as best you can?

When you have a $4K claimer that can't hit the board and will never be claimed with zero breeding value, what are you supposed to do as an owner? Keep eating the cost? Make him a family pet? You can only have so many horse pets before they break you as well.

As with most problems, it all starts at the top, and then the shit rolls downhill.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:43 AM   #8
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LDH, I have a strong hunch you're talking about Delta, and the kill lot is Thompson's in Pritkin, La.

Two days ago yet another Delta horse showed up at Thompson's kill lot. It was a 4-year-old named ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY, with two lifetime starts. He last raced at Delta on Jan. 13 and finished 4/10. His last workout was on Jan. 26.

Equibase:
Owner: Ella Williams
Trainer: George Williams

I'm pretty sure that Thompson's gave somewhere in the neighborhood of $300-$500 for the horse.

A rescue organization (the same one that rescued 11 Delta horses from Thompson's in January) was made aware of the situation, and contacted Thompson's today to inquire about the "bail" needed to acquire the horse. They were promptly told the horse would cost them $1,250 and that the money must be received by 5 p.m. this Sunday, as that's when ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY is scheduled to ship to slaughter.

I emailed Delta yesterday to notify them about a possible violation of their no-slaughter policy. I do not expect a reply from Delta; they haven't replied to one yet. Which begs the question: why pretend to have a policy if you're not going to attempt to enforce it? Just come right out and say it: we don't give a rat's ass about the horses. I'd respect them more if they were honest about it.

Last edited by Mulerider; 02-24-2018 at 12:55 AM.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulerider View Post
LDH, I have a strong hunch you're talking about Delta, and the kill lot is Thompson's in Pritkin, La.

Two days ago yet another Delta horse showed up at Thompson's kill lot. It was a 4-year-old named ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY, with two lifetime starts. He last raced at Delta on Jan. 13 and finished 4/10. His last workout was on Jan. 26.

Equibase:
Owner: Ella Williams
Trainer: George Williams

I'm pretty sure that Thompson's gave somewhere in the neighborhood of $300-$500 for the horse.

A rescue organization (the same one that rescued 11 Delta horses from Thompson's in January) was made aware of the situation, and contacted Thompson's today to inquire about the "bail" needed to acquire the horse. They were promptly told the horse would cost them $1,250 and that the money must be received by 5 p.m. this Sunday, as that's when ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY is scheduled to ship to slaughter.

I emailed Delta yesterday to notify them about a possible violation of their no-slaughter policy. I do not expect a reply from Delta; they've haven't replied to one yet. Which begs the question: why pretend to have a policy if you're not going to attempt to enforce it? Just come right out and say it: we don't give a rat's ass about the horses. I'd respect them more if they were honest about it.
What would you say if they needed the $300 to buy groceries for their children?

While I'm just making that up, and have no idea who these two are, it is a very real situation at tracks like Delta.

They aren't running on 8, 7, or even 6 figure budgets, many are just trying to make ends meet from month to month.

And no, I don't want to excuse the practice, but lets also realize why it is happening.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulerider View Post
LDH, I have a strong hunch you're talking about Delta, and the kill lot is Thompson's in Pritkin, La.

Two days ago yet another Delta horse showed up at Thompson's kill lot. It was a 4-year-old named ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY, with two lifetime starts. He last raced at Delta on Jan. 13 and finished 4/10. His last workout was on Jan. 26.

Equibase:
Owner: Ella Williams
Trainer: George Williams

I'm pretty sure that Thompson's gave somewhere in the neighborhood of $300-$500 for the horse.

A rescue organization (the same one that rescued 11 Delta horses from Thompson's in January) was made aware of the situation, and contacted Thompson's today to inquire about the "bail" needed to acquire the horse. They were promptly told the horse would cost them $1,250 and that the money must be received by 5 p.m. this Sunday, as that's when ALECIA'SLITTLEBOY is scheduled to ship to slaughter.

I emailed Delta yesterday to notify them about a possible violation of their no-slaughter policy. I do not expect a reply from Delta; they haven't replied to one yet. Which begs the question: why pretend to have a policy if you're not going to attempt to enforce it? Just come right out and say it: we don't give a rat's ass about the horses. I'd respect them more if they were honest about it.
So...the slaughterhouse paid $300-$500 for the doomed horse...but they wanted $1,250 from the rescue organization. Nice people to do business with.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lemon Drop Husker View Post
What would you say if they needed the $300 to buy groceries for their children?
If they were in such dire straits, I would suggest to them that they contact one of the many rescue organizations directly, and explain their financial situation. The rescues would prefer that they do that. Cut out the a**hole middleman like Thompson, who plays the emotional card on his Facebook page to inflate the price. These rescue organizations do a pretty fine job of finding homes for these horses.

That January cluster was a huge black eye for Delta, as some pretty big names in the industry donated to rescue those horses: Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Mattress Mack, Ahmed Zayat, etc. One would think Delta would want to prevent another such PR disaster, but that's apparently not the case. The horses just keep showing up at Thompson's, an unpleasant stop on their way to Mexico.

Last edited by Mulerider; 02-24-2018 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:41 AM   #12
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I am not justifying races horses at slaughter by saying yearly over 120,00 American horses are sent to slaughter. That's the low end. Quick math tells you even if every one of the 20,000 born each year are sent ( and we know that doesn't happen) it's not 10%. Racing does not keep the slaughter house doors open. Yet every time horse slaughter is mentioned in public life, we are pointed to. We have a perception problem. This hurts new growth/ more money.

We have other problems. Accessibility, availability, to name a few. These hurt growth which in turn means money. And like most problems, it takes money. But those aren't being addressed. Everyone wants their little fiefdoms.

Until they are, horses will keep paying with their lives.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulerider View Post
If they were in such dire straits, I would suggest to them that they contact one of the many rescue organizations directly, and explain their financial situation. The rescues would prefer that they do that. Cut out the a**hole middleman like Thompson, who plays the emotional card on his Facebook page to inflate the price. These rescue organizations do a pretty fine job of finding homes for these horses.

That January cluster was a huge black eye for Delta, as some pretty big names in the industry donated to rescue those horses: Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Mattress Mack, Ahmed Zayat, etc. One would think Delta would want to prevent another such PR disaster, but that's apparently not the case. The horses just keep showing up at Thompson's.
It wasn't such a black eye for Delta...because incidents like these seldom get reported. If it weren't for you...we'd never hear about any of this. Very sad...
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:45 AM   #14
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So...the slaughterhouse paid $300-$500 for the doomed horse...but they wanted $1,250 from the rescue organization. Nice people to do business with.
The price might have something to do with how much they get from the slaughterhouse per pound of horse...I wonder what the going rate is on something of this nature, or if it done by the ton/ trailer load...? Once horses are in the kill cue, lm sure that they are looked upon as one would with other livestock commodity...still $1250 seems like a lot to want/ ask in this situation...agree with you.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:59 AM   #15
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I wonder what the actual end-use and end-users are...and how many total per year...it doesnt seem like something that much money could be made, given the numbers compared to something like cattle meat processing numbers...I wonder if horse meat is considered a delicacy and sold high-end to Asians or something or if the end-product price is lower than beef...?

Is it possible to dry up the demand somehow or just make horse products banned internationally?
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