The big news of the day is a press release featured on Paulick Report, announcing the formation of racing industry aftercare group, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. There are quite a few major players in this group:
Funded initially by seed money from Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, the TAA is comprised of owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, jockeys, aftercare professionals and other industry groups.
Additional support of the TAA has been provided by Adena Springs North, CARMA, Fasig-Tipton, The Jockeys’ Guild, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, The New York Racing Association, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company and Thoroughbred Charities of America. The organization also received staff support from Thoroughbred Charities of America, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).
Adena Springs, in particular, have already proven themselves to be responsible breeders, finding horses that need to be retired and providing down-time, retraining, and re-homing services for their home-breds. The Jockey Club, too, has started to ramp up their efforts to provide retirement resources and positive press for OTTBs, including Thoroughbred Connect. And of course the NTRA has made after-care a priority, and has done a great job integrating OTTB stories into their racing outreach.
So kudos to all the groups who are making things happen in racehorse retirement!
BUT… this is an interesting statement:
The TAA will accredit aftercare facilities based on a Code of Standards covering operations, education, horse management, facility services and adoption policies.
Oh they will, will they? I didn’t see any reference in the press release to any current Thoroughbred re-homing organizations, the people who have had boots on the ground in this issue for decades, and I don’t see any references to any sport horse organizations, the people who they need to be reaching out to in order to get their horses into new jobs.
Are they going to concentrate on retiring these horses for life, or getting OTTBs into new careers? A central, founding principle of the “Aftercare” solution must include an increase in the number of sound, able retirees who are able to go into new careers. There is not enough room in this country for tens of thousands of broken-down two, three, and four-year-olds to live in pasture for the rest of their lives.
This appears a little one-sided, as usual. Once again, the horse racing industry and the sport horse industry find themselves hopelessly disconnected. Please prove me wrong.
Also on the nets there is this article at the Atlantic’s website, a rather doe-eyed and innocent look at the world of cheap horses and slaughter. The author, who describes visiting auctions with her parents, and her father’s refusal to sell to kill-buyers, as a childhood ritual, is back to help her parents disperse of their (already underfed) horses.
This time, the kill buyers we used to duck would likely not be a problem. Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped funding inspections of the three U.S. slaughterhouses that processed horse meat, effectively closing them.
I’m disappointed at the Atlantic, one of my favorite magazines, for printing an essay with such an incorrect premise: that kill-buyers were no longer the norm at auctions. I’m also a little disappointed in the author, for thinking even for a moment that sending skinny horses, including a Belgian, an unbroke four-year-old, and a bucking horse, to an auction would end well.