Friday, September 11, 2009

Bo Derek Speaks Out Against Horse Slaughter & A Retired Racehorse at the Zoo?

“There have always been thoughtless people who starve or abandon animals,” Derek says. “But in spite of rewards and careful monitoring, officials tell us that there has been almost no increase in the problem since the closing of the slaughter houses in America.

“Slaughter houses in California were closed by a ballot initiative in 1998, but studies showed that there was no rise in abandonment. In fact, there has been a significant drop in horse thefts. As a horse owner, I am very glad of the ban and am calling for an ultimate federal ban to protect all of our American horses. There is simply no excuse for painting horse slaughter as a humane end-of-life option. Some Asian cultures eat dogs and cats. Does this mean we should have slaughter facilities for them, too?”

Some of the possible solutions:
1. Make sure people are heavily penalized for the abandonment or mistreatment of horses throughout America. 2. If the economy is at fault, make sure people have ways to solve their problem in a humane and decent way. There are many rescue organizations. 3. There are people who would love to have a donated horse. Healthy older horses are quite suitable for beginners and children to learn to ride. 4. There are several drop-off centers. The University of Davis has one. There, horses can either be rehabilitated or the gentle method of euthanasia can be demonstrated to the vet students. 5. Arrange a workable system where veterinarians can charge a lower fee for euthanizing a horse for clients they know are in need. 6. Check for burial sites at landfills at a reasonable price.
The people of America need to come together to help each other and our horses. Please send an email message to your congressman and your out-of-state friends, too. We need to end this tragedy.
(Portion of an article reprinted from Santa Ynez Valley Journal September 10, 2009)

A racehorse known as In My Lifetime when he sped around Northville Downs won a retirement sweepstakes of sorts when he received a new home at the Detroit Zoo.

The 5-year-old thoroughbred, who now goes by his barn name of Buster, had been adopted by a young woman through Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) in Emmett.

However, his new owner ran into financial problems. CANTER took him back because many retired racehorses face a sad fate, according to board member Gail Hirt.

"A lot of the horses that don't come to CANTER end up in low auctions where people -- we call them kill buyers -- buy them for $30 to $250, send them to slaughter and ship the meat to Europe," Hirt said. "We are a horse rescue but we like to be called a horse rehab."

The Utica bus driver helps find homes for retired racehorses after CANTER and Michigan State University take care of their medical needs, often surgery for knee chips and pulled tendons, and often socialization problems.

Buster had surgery about 1 1/2 years ago before he was adopted the first time. His disposition made him a good candidate for the zoo.

"He's very, very friendly," Hirt said. "These horses have been in stables for the last 3-5 years. They have to learn to be in pastures with other horses."

Buster now is living the good life in the zoo's barnyard with Trio, a 10-year-old retired racehorse accepted by the zoo earlier this year. Trio also was rescued by CANTER.

“Many horses are retired from the racing industry each year although not all are as fortunate as Buster to find a good home. He will make a great companion for Trio,” said Scott Carter, director of conservation and animal welfare.

The bay-colored gelding weighs 1,200 pounds and stands 16.2 hands at the withers. A hand equals 4 inches. A thoroughbred horse, also called Equus caballus, typically weighs 900 to 1,100 pounds and measures 15 to 17 hands.

Veterinary care for Buster and all the zoo’s animals is supported in part by proceeds from the upcoming Bank of America Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo. The 5K and 10K races and one-mile fun walk will be held on Sept. 20. Details are available at Click on "events," then "run wild".


  1. What an excellent article!! I am thrilled to see the retired TBs being donated to the zoos. Our Fort Worth Zoo has a pair of Paint horses in the Texas Wild exhibit, so maybe they need to have a Thoroughbred also. It's a wonderful thought!

  2. Thank you Celeste for the feedback. I think a former race horse at every zoo is a great idea!


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