Monday, January 29, 2007

They shoot horses don't they?

RIP Barbaro, I was routing for your full recovery. But, as you know, a horse with a shattered leg is like a bird without wings. An animal that loses its natural abilities, its physical purpose, is swiftly ejected from the river of life. Even the courageous adaptability of this poor little deformed kitten, Lola (who has learned to walk on its front legs), probably won't get her too far. I was impressed by Barbaro's owners dedication to his health. Most end-of-career racehorses are quickly and quietly destroyed.

A good forthcoming documentary on the fate of racehorses is Homestretch by Sheri Bylander. It focuses on the two-bit race circuits and horrific slaughter auctions that non-winners face. It shows how every year thousands of young horses fail to meet their owners’ expectations. The magnificent creature is reduced to a red mark in an accounting ledger - a loss not to be sustained. For every Barbaro there are countless Ferdinands, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner who was sold to a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2002. Homestretch also investigates a few exciting new prison programs where end-of-career racehorses are paired with end-of-term prisoners on prison-owned farms in the countryside. The lifesaving rehabilitation of both man and beast is really something miraculous to see.

Previous Barbaro post here.

("Horse Tongue" by Tim Flach)


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