Around the web: New aftercare alliance; Slaughter goes literary

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.

Whitney Stakes, Thoroughbred, Saratoga

What's next? Duke of Mischief looks ahead at the Whitney Stakes, Saratoga 2011. (Photo by author)

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.




Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, Retirement Options, slaughter

5 responses to “Around the web: New aftercare alliance; Slaughter goes literary

  1. I completely agree with you regarding that article in the Atlantic. Seemed rather uneducated regarding the slaughter issues.

    • Yeah, and I felt that the writer’s intention was good. I don’t want to hate on the writer. That was clearly how she experienced the event. But she just didn’t realize that kill-buyers were there? She didn’t realize that’s where Darlin’ went? That’s a shame.

  2. Michael Martin

    Established facilities were not included, as they are not yet approved.

    Are there “tens of thousands” of “broken-down” Thoroughbreds retiring yearly, or is that rhetoric unjustified by facts? Believe me, that is an important distinction, and most likely an unsuported assertion. Do injuries occur in sport? Perhaps all animal centered sports should be outlawed. Why get upon the back of any poor unsuspecting equine? Once that act is committed, the rest follows, and providing for the tens of thousands is quite expensive. Pony up. There are lots of opportunities to participate, and the auction ring is open to everyone. Outbid the killer buyers.

    The industry is making a sincere effort which deserves great support, and has so far earned little sniping.

  3. Kim

    The irony is that the so-called inspections that this all hinges on, don’t happen. We had a case up here in quaint, progressive, green Vermont, where an HSUS cameraman worked at a slaughterhouse and recorded the workers being incredibly (hmm) cruel to the bob-calves that are the by-product of our lovely dairy industry. Federal inspectors turned the other way.

    When animals become defined by what they are worth – whether it’s how fast they can run, how well they can jump, how much milk they produce, how many eggs they can lay – they are in jeopardy, because it’s not going to end well. The slaughterhouses are the problem that no one focuses on. All this talk about Certified Humane is baloney because at some point those animals are going to be “loaded” on a dirty old trailer by men who couldn’t get a job anywhere else and taken to the slaughterhouse where unspeakable atrocities happen because no one is watching, no one is doing their job the way it should be done, no one cares, and money and time are in short supply and those are the only relevant things. Frankly, I’d much rather be eaten by a lion than taken to a U.S. slaughterhouse.

    Animals need to be put down at some point. It is our responsibilty, and we have the ability, to make that happen in a humane way.

  4. I got the press release this morning in my in-box. I’m extremely glad they are doing SOMETHING, but as usual, it’s going to be awfully hard to enforce. The racing industry is entrenched in “that’s how it’s always been done,” like a lot of the horse world… and our society today is also full of shortcuts and “making money at all costs” in general. There is a long road ahead before any kind of real program is going to take effect. But this is a start, and I’ll take it!

    Going over to read The Atlantic article now. I know I won’t like it.