A Listener Essay By Susan McDonough

  A Listener Essay by Susan McDonough - a member of the New York State Humane Association.

Many people are excited about a summer at Saratoga Race Course, but not me. In my opinion, racing is bad for horses.

To begin with, in no other equine industry are new born foals torn from their mothers so that mom can be brought to a stallion to be bred again soon after she gave birth; the result is the creation of another extremely cruel industry known as the “nurse mare industry.”

The nurse mare, is a horse who is bred only to have her baby removed so that she will nurse the thoroughbred (or good) foal. What happens to the nurse mare foal? They are considered unwanted and forgotten by-products. Many are killed almost immediately, while others are sold for use in different markets, such as the tanning industry for their hides, or to be slaughtered --- to enter the food supply overseas.

Racing is the only equine industry that I’m aware of where horses are re-aged (they are all considered to be one year old on January 1st, even if they are only four or five months), this allows the “industry” to start running them as early as possible. They are then locked in stalls for as much as 22 hours a day only to become “weavers,” “cribbers,” or “wind suckers” all due to extreme boredom from never being allowed to roam in an open field with their own species, which is natural to them. They are taken out of their stalls for a few hours each day to be whipped, in preparation for being raced.

I’ve owned and trained horses for many years. I know that horses should not be ridden until they are at least three or four years of age, or they will suffer injuries and breakdowns. Yet, racehorses are started at two or younger, and forced to run well beyond their capacity because they fear and respond to the sting of the whip. As a result, their noses gush with blood, their legs snap, their hearts give out, etc.

In 2012 and 2013, over a period of several months, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals investigator (PETA) worked for a horse trainer in an undercover capacity at the Saratoga racecourse. Their records exposed the pervasive and improper use of prescription drugs, including thyrozine – (to rev up the metabolism of horses) and Lasix - which makes the horses lighter by causing dehydration.

In my opinion, drugging horses constitutes the felony of interfering or tampering with a racehorse ---unless it is done to relieve pain and the horse is allowed to rest.

Last year, over 1,000 horses were killed on American racetracks. In addition, although unreported, countless horses are dying as they are trained for racing.

Necropsies should be conducted for any and all horses who were killed during a race or “vanned off” only to be euthanized later. The cause of death should be reported to a police agency such as the Attorney General’s Office in order to ensure that any person who may have caused the death of these animals from excessive or illegal drugging or any other illegal means will be prosecuted.

The finish line for both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds is usually a slaughterhouse. As a former NYS Trooper, I have personally witnessed hundreds of racehorses crammed into decrepit trucks and hauled for hours without food or water to slaughterhouses in Canada Racing is not a sport. It is not in the Olympics like other equestrian sports. It is a gambling business that uses live animals instead of decks of cards or dice but destroys them as callously. Racing should die a slow death like many of its horses now do.