In Saratoga, Dubai, Newmarket–on Planet Earth–Horses Have the Right of Way. Deal with It.
I was just tagged in a post by a Facebook friend, Michelle Deyette Roddy, who shared a post that was written in a state of Justifiable Rage by another friend, Patricia Pendergast Novo. Patricia is in Saratoga, and this morning she witnessed something that absolutely never should happen–and yet, it does occur more-often than we want to think. This post is important–and I want to address it here on Talk of the Track, because Patricia and Michelle pointed out that this is an issue that demands notice, on a large scale.
A jackass, barely-disguised as a human being behind the wheel of a vehicle–committed two crimes on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA this morning.
In the commission of these crimes, he could have murdered both a horse and a human. Here’s what Bevis (Or, Butthead?) did:
— On Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, he drove TWICE the speed limit, which is 30 mph. This means that the aforementioned moron drove 60 mph down one of Saratoga’s busiest thoroughfares–straight between the Saratoga Race Course and the Oklahoma Training Track.
At that hour of the morning–horses were working out, and going either to the track, or back to their barns.
SIXTY MILES PER HOUR, people: the idiot could have t-boned another car–could have plowed down any number of living beings. Horses, humans, dogs, cats–you name it, nothing sentient was safe with this fool on the road.–He refused to stop for not one, but TWO New York Racing Association security guards, holding big, RED signs that read, STOP.
— In so doing, he barely avoided committing a third and fourth crime: those of hitting and killing a horse, and the horse’s rider.
First of all, speeding–especially, driving DOUBLE a speed limit–not only is stupid, it’s illegal. As in, “against the law.”
Second–and I’m going to write slowly and distinctly for those of you who either a) don’t want to realize/accept/acknowledge–or who b) might be too dull to comprehend:
Saratoga, like many other cities on Planet Earth–enjoys a majority of its economic abundance from the presence of HORSES, and all the many things and humans that go with them. Were it not for the thousands of horses who are born, live, work, race, play polo and generally populate this city and Saratoga County–we’d see a much-different economy.
Yes, of course, there are musea, concert venues, restaurants, bars and other entertainments in Saratoga–but every single one of them came along decades after horses first graced this place, and brought Bux Deluxe with them. The logical conclusion, then, is that the horses are the reasons for all these other diversions in the Spa City.
Some people don’t want to acknowledge this proven fact–but there it is. It’s real. If you’re a Saratogian–you must thank horses for creating such a prosperous little city.
Logically, as well, I can state without reservation that, in Saratoga, every single one of those horses is important.
Think about this notion: one single horse generates more money in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County–than one, average human being.
Even if they weren’t money-makers, horses deserve respect. If for no other reason that, well–in spite of their role in The Big Picture as prey animals–horses are enormous. Any creature who weighs in at half-a-ton or more–is noticeable. Respected. Paths should be cleared for a 1,200-pound animal who’s coming through.
And if you’re in a car/truck/semi and you see a horse: YOU STOP.
Here in Saratoga, or on a country road in the middle of Nowheresville, Antarctica–YOU STOP.
Only an idiot–a criminal–or a self-important narcissist would think that s/he shouldn’t yield to an innocent animal whom they could kill with their vehicle. Only a fool drives 60 down a city street that’s clearly marked, 30–and which has security guards holding up BIG, RED STOP SIGNS.
Only a fool who’s a narcissist and thinks that s/he owns the road refuses to acknowledge that horses cross Union Avenue and Nelson Avenue in Saratoga Springs from April – November EVERY YEAR. This is not a New Thing, people. It happens every year.
Everyone who lives in Saratoga County knows about horses working out–about slowing down, and looking for security guards with signs–on both Nelson and Union. First-time visitors know (or should know) enough to watch for horses. (HINT: Lots of horse art, statues, gift shops, etc. around town–there MIGHT actually BE real horses somewhere just off-Broadway…)
And unless you’re driving by Braille, it’s pretty obvious that thousands of pounds of horses and humans are crossing those streets–and that security guards are standing in the road, to assure the beings’ safe passage.
(And, N.B.: If you’re driving by Braille–hand the keys to your children, it’s time to give up the privilege of driving.)
The horses are in town–drivers WILL yield to them, or pay the price.
This same scene–the pageantry of horses crossing roads–happens in hundreds of places on our earthly Home, every day of the year. In Dubai, Newmarket, Flemington, Deauville–horses have the right of way. Always.
This fact does not change because YOU, a mere human driver, FEEL like giving the right-of-way. It’s not yours to give.
Hard-to-believe, I know–but this is NOT your call.
You, the driver who barreled down Union Avenue this morning–do not get to call the shots. You are not important.
You are nobody.
I’m joining Michelle and Patricia, and calling on Saratoga Springs’ Mayor, Joanne Yepsen and the City Council to call for the strict enforcement of both the speed limits in the city, especially on Union and Nelson Avenues.
I’d also like to see the City create a resolution that the NYRA security guards, who stand in the road with signs as they do their jobs of protecting horses and their humans–are considered and respected as real partners in law enforcement in the city. That those NYRA guards, who work so hard to keep equine athletes and their connections safe–be respected by law. (That is, if a NYRA security guard is holding up a STOP sign, and a driver plows through–the driver will be stopped and ticketed if not actually arrested by Saratoga Springs police.)
Either horses have the right-of-way–or they don’t.
Saratoga Springs and every city/town that benefits economically and emotionally from the presence of horses needs to step up to the plate. Enough with the platitudes, about “…how much we love our horses.”
PROVE IT: protect them, and the people who work with them.
We in the horse industry need to look out for horses, on every level, at every turn.
If this means that some jerk who almost hits a horse on Union Avenue because he’s late getting his Starbucks gets arrested–so be it.
Horses are here, and they deserve to live and work in safety.
Those who have no respect for these magnificent animals, and the people who work with them: deal with it, or get outta Dodge.
Horse crossing Union Avenue, courtesy of Brooklyn Backstretch.
Mosaic Saratoga Horse, courtesy of Linda Biggers.
Wonder if anyone got his plate number..although he deserves more than a ticket. Last year, I was privileged enough to watch one of the more well known jockeys run out of patience while waiting to make a left turn through the backstretch gate. He had been told to stop and totally ignored the guards and then turned toward me with a stupid grin on his face, thinking all the while how cool he just looked. Unbelievable.