What’s Good for The Horse is Good for the Sport. Period.
There’s been a ton of (justified) dialogue lately about the medications issue. For some reason I’ve YET to fathom, the American horse racing community fails to comprehend that the United States is virtually the only racing country that isn’t in line with the medications rules in every other nation on Earth. Like you, I’ve studied other countries–and the racing of Arabian horses, as well–and it seems to me that, in the true “American spirit” of rebellion, there’s resistance to the concept of following the rest of the world.
Especially when it comes to the welfare of The Horse.
I’m going to come right out and say it I don’t give a tiny rat’s patootie about other topics, such as:
* What’s best for the bettors;
* Customer service, or lack thereof;
* Seeing race tracks kiss up to fan groups, etc.
It seems to me that American racing is the only sport that has (some) fans who feel entitled. I’ve written it in other places, and I’ll say it again: if race fans think for one minute that the owners of NFL teams should be willing to sit at-table with fan groups and hash out the amenities that the fans “demand”–they’re nuts. Owners of football teams care about the fans as much as they need, I think–but no way, no how, would an owner of a team cower in the face of an angry fan.
The Super Bowl is an event that hosts perhaps a mere 65,000 stadium occupants every year–I write, “mere,” because Triple Crown races; the Breeders’ Cup, etc., all bring in far more spectators than that. And yep, you can be that people stand in line to use a bathroom, or to get a hot dog.
But long bathroom lines at the Super Bowl–I’m sure that, while they may not voice it, NFL team owners are thinking, “Suck it up.”
Perhaps that’s part of the psychology of football, at its core. Short of a catastrophic injury, players suck it up and get back out onto that field.
Now, on the other hoof, we have horses. When a football player goes back onto the field, he’s a human being who’s made his decision to play on that team. He makes kabillions of dollars, and his contract stipulates that there are certain expectations. One of them is that he makes decisions that are good not only for himself–but for the team, as well.
Our horses, on the other hand, have neither thumbs nor human language skills. Talented horse people can speak and understand Horse, however, and it is expected that the people who work with horses will listen to their horse–her body language, her facial expressions, vocalizations, etc.–to determine a horse’s state of health or mind. Since the first real connection of a human with a horse–humans have realized and accepted that responsibility.
Similarly, it is the responsibility and duty of the humans who work with race horses to make the most-wise and most loving decisions on behalf of their horses. Like, say, regarding medications.
Because a horse cannot speak Human to object to being injected with a medication, it is the sacred duty of that horse’s trainer and owner to only put things into that horse’s body that are beneficial to that horse.
The debate–about what’s beneficial and necessary, and what isn’t–rages on.
But the bottom line is this: if you own or train a horse, or are a veterinarian–you cannot think of that animal who’s in your care as being a mere machine. I know that most owners, trainers and vets don’t think this way–but unfortunately, pressure from the betting public and the pressure to win, lurks every day, in every decision made for every horse.
The horses are our primary athletes. They are innocent, pure, kind and, as herd animals–they crave the company and approval of everyone in their herd. That includes their humans. They also look for an Alpha–and of course, in the Big Picture, the trainer in a race horse’s life is her ultimate Alpha.
If you are an Alpha–a trainer, owner or other person who’s responsible for the care and health of a race horse–and you don’t make sound decisions on behalf of that horse–get the Hell out of horse racing. We don’t need or want you here. Your presence sullies the sport, and the reputation thereof.
The presence and active participation of anyone who willfully would harm horses not only is bad for horses, themselves, but is bad for the sport of horse racing, as well.
The Horse is the most important being on any race track, anywhere on Planet Earth. What’s good for The Horse ultimately is good for the sport of horse racing. To ignore this Truth–to think of horses as THINGS, rather than living, tender beings who deserve respect–will lead to the downfall of racing.
The sport will grow–and thrive–only when all horsewomen and -men in the sport put The Horse first. We must weed out those in the industry who are bad–who think of horses only as meal tickets– and not be afraid to get rid of them.
Put The Horse first, and eventually the sport will figure it out: that when you’re doing The Right Thing–then, and only then, can everyone prosper.
That’s all she wrote.
* Man and Arabian Horse, courtesy of Fadi Izzaldin and Dubai Media, Inc.
* Ginned Up, beautiful f!lly, compliments of Jennifer Contessa