Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Equine's Rights??-- The Argument for and Against Retirement of Horses and Second Careers

In order to keep up to date on all that is going on in retirement, rescue, racing etc I subscribe to Google Alerts. With Google Alerts I am able to key in phrases or words from articles and blog postings that may be of use to me. I use key words such as Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Horse Rescue, Horse Charity to name a few. To say that I have had an education in the past month to how others see horse racing and animal rights would be an understatement.

For the most part I do not comment on what I see nor post. I rarely leave a comment to the original author of what is said. However, today I was floored to read on a vegan slanted blog post and the subsequent comments that I thought I would share their musings. First off, I love horse racing. I am going to be biased in my approach straight away. I love many people in horse racing, and again my take will be much different than those who are not associated with the industry. More importantly I love horses and I love being able to remove them off the track when they can no longer race for whatever reason.

So, back to the blog and posts--- The jest of the article was that it was "cruel to ask a horse to provide for it's own care after retirement by making it work as a therapeutic riding horse in order to maintain it's own keep at the facility". Subsequent posts stated that "the equine's rights were being violated". HUH? The blog post went on to argue a hypothetical analysis of what was in the best interest of the equine vs. the best interests of the human that it was transporting on it's back and was the exploitation of the horse beneficial to the experience of the person versus the forced will of man over beast. Yes, I will wait while you catch up.

I can't believe that this is all we have as lovers of animals to argue about?. Whether or not a horse should be donated or not to a charity that provides mobility to a child or a blind adult that they would not normally have, so that a horse can have something to do and feel good about itself in the process and by the way "earn it's keep", HUH? But then again should I really be surprised when the national news carried for an entire day the fallen fly that our leader, President Obama blotted off our American landscape?

Many find horse racing cruel, many argue that until all horses are free to roam we are exercising our will on them. Another remark stated that "horses are raped for a rich mans pleasure". OUCH! Breeding of horses is an industry, and yes covering a mare is not a chosen courtship as in the wild, however it is the way in which a foal is conceived in racing. Basic biology here, and it's to protect the stallion, mare and those that are standing there collectively helping with the process.

We can argue that a race horse shouldn't be raced at two, that they should be started at three or four, we can argue why and when if ever a horse should be whipped, and we can argue over the use of Lasix to enhance performance. However, the argument that the horse has "rights" as a human does, is insane and in my opinion misguided.

Race Horse and Equine rescue and retirement groups, and therapeutic riding centers do not need a bunch of "crazed" individuals ridiculing their efforts by suggesting a horse doesn't want a saddle on him and should not be made to be useful to society after it's racing days are over (if at all). I say leave these arguments dear animal lovers behind, and find something better to worry about, like the giant horse fly that I will swat and kill the next time it buzzes around my head.

Many of you wrote to say how outraged you were regarding the cruelty inflicted on the grey filly. Here is a follow up to that story. She has arrived at her forever home in San Diego county. Here is the news story.


  1. In my opinion the real issue is that people like to pretend that horses have the exact same motivations and concerns that we do. I think horses absolutely do have rights. They have a right to good food and space to run. They have a right to treated with dignity. The problem is that these people who know nothing about horses assume that they want the same things as humans. Humans want to retire after working for years and so horses must want the same, right? Not so much. Horses value safety, comfort and play. If a retired race horse goes to a well run therapy ranch it should be safe, comfortable and have time and space to play. If not then that would be a problem. The fact that the horse carries a few kids around is really not going to be a bid deal to the horse. Unless they get ridiculous about how many kids ride that horse in day then that horse will be doing very little that could be considered work at all. Plus horses need (not just want but NEED) to move (ie, walk at least) around quite a bit per day. The kids that get put on them in these settings often don't even weigh much and the horses many horses do like the attention. Horses are excellent at picking up on emotions and kids are usually happy to see the horses. Most horses are actually happier with something to do and some interaction like that. Sure they are also happy just out in a herd being left alone like they would be in the wild. They also live with a lot more fear that way. People should be concentrating on how to give horses the best of both worlds instead of how to send them out to fend for themselves. Lots of safety and attention plus turn out time to just be horses and hang out in a herd environment. Personally I find it highly offensive that there are people who choose not to learn anything about horse psychology, the physical needs of the horse or anything and then they want to try to force their beliefs on others without even any real understand of what they are talking about.

  2. Thank you for leaving such a well thought out and articulate response.


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