Horse Racing: Genuine Teamwork Required. (i.e., Abusers, Go Home.)

CIGAR Pleased with HimselfIn our corporate society, we hear and read it everywhere: teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.

Yes, it makes a difference. People by nature are not teamwork-driven. Think about it this way: from the day you are born, it’s been all about you and your needs. Your parents or other caregivers tended to every need–all you had to do was cry to get what you wanted, or perceived that you needed.

You didn’t care if your parents got sleep; where the food was coming from or who paid the bills. There is a good chance you were spoiled in your early years because YES, it always was all about you.

So, whatever your profession, there’s a better-than-average chance that your underlying thoughts and concerns are driven by the drive to be sure that your needs are met. (And practically-speaking, a bit of that is necessary: otherwise, you’d work with no concern for being paid, and therefore for paying your bills. Your in-born selfishness does play an important role in order to keep you on-target for exercising responsibility regarding your obligations.)

The same “feed me!” demands with which you were born continue to drive the focus of your life and career. Everyone wants to be successful, for many reasons and in many ways, but the foundation of that desire always goes back to the same self-preservation instincts from all those years ago.

The problem is this: that type of selfish motivation does not benefit any organization or organization with which you are involved. And this is a problem for horse racing. The goal of horse racing–as with any other sport–is to win. And, since humans cannot run the races themselves, they/we must learn how to work as a team.

And–and this concept is so foreign to that human nature–the first and foremost, horse racing is about The Horse.

A trainer who thinks only of The Finish Line–and not about The Horse first–not only is doomed to fail, but deserves so to do.

Horse racing requires selfless acts of great love for The Horse–for that magnificent, sentient, feeling, loving creature who gives her or his all for no other reason than to please the humans in her/his life. An owner, likewise, who places their priorities anywhere but in the stall of their horse–is a lousy example a primary example of obsessive selfishness-in-action. The winner’s circle photo is not the end-game for horse racing as a sport, for the end-game is supposed to be that the humans involved work with their horse to do the best they can. And that, when that horse’s career is over, the horse is given the Forever Home that they deserve. They’ve worked their hearts out–as members of a team–the very least that their human connections can do is to assure that that horse never, ever finds her/himself on a slaughter truck.

Horses, you see, are herd animals: they ARE team players. Whether in the wild or on a lush horse farm in the U.K., all horses are prey animals. Every single horse who’s ever lived is the prospective prey of someone–and therefore, their instincts are merely to survive. The safest way to assure this survival is to be part of a herd. The herd has a hierarchy, but every member of the herd is alert and aware, 24/7, for potentially dangerous situations.

Ironically, the humans in the herds of race horses of all breeds–are predators. (We’ve spelled this out before: an easy way to determine if an animal is a predator or prey is to notice the location of their eyes. Horses’ eyes are on the sides of their heads–they have almost 360-degree vision, so they can see all potential dangers. Human eyes, on the other hand, are squarely on the front of the head. Predators.) It’s a gift from Heaven when a horse accepts you–a human–into his herd. In horse racing, they’re forced to. Well, it’s the truth. Horses who are bred to race go from being the possession of a breeder to being the possession of an owner, thence into the barn of a trainer.

So race horses never are given the option of being around humans, or not. They find–they intuit–the humans whom their instincts tell them are trustworthy. But, as we all know–and have seen entirely too much lately–too many humans are not worthy of the trust and herd-ship of a horse.

Too many humans still are driven by that selfish, “feed me!” instinct, and they put their own obsessive drive to win ahead of the welfare and needs of their horses. Sadly enough, some trainers and owners get a taste of winning via doping and other shortcuts, and that taste fuels their entire way of operating thenceforth.

Yes, we know that there are trainers who dope horses–and owners who insist on doping horses–with no regard for the health of life of the horses whom God has entrusted to them. Those people betray the horses who trust them. The horses who need them. Those people are not worthy of those horses–of any horse, or any animal. A horse needs a reliable, trustworthy team, and the those trainers and owners who refuse to think of anything other than themselves and the accumulation of wealth and trophies are the lowest form of life on Earth.

To betray a herd animal who’s graciously allowed you within their spiritual circle and trusted you with their very lives is a sin. Humans would do well to study The Horse–to observe how herds operate–and to act accordingly. Horse survived for millions of years before humans came on the scene because of teamwork. I suspect that horses will be around for millennia after humans have blown each other up. Wars and battles for territory–a very human, very predatory activity–are the results of greed, and nothing but greed. The source of that greed? Billions of humans who never figured out how to play well with others–who never got past the selfishness of their infancies–who never learned how to function as a team.

Horse racing in the United States will go the way of the pterodactyl if the humans involved in the sport refuse to consider the needs of their horses first–foremost–and always. And yes, that means dropping the ego and taking on the mentality of the herd. What’s best for EVERY member of the team is what will move the sport forward–and The Horse, the very heart and soul of that team, must be Priority Number One.

Anything else is not only unacceptable–it will be the death knell of the sport in 21st Century America.


Photo Credit:

Thank you mucho to Mary Fleming Simon, for her photo of the late, truly great Cigar, feeling pretty proud of himself after painting his Moneigh.