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Nothing To Hide

The View

I don’t need to go over the specific numbers or details, but suffice it to say that the number of thoroughbreds that have broken down at Santa Anita

this past winter is tragic, to say the least. Most of us are in the racing industry because we love horses, and the thought of losing even one of them in this way makes us cringe in fear.

Standardbreds are a much sturdier breed than our thoroughbred cousins, and their gait doesn’t put nearly as much stress on their legs - both reasons why tragic accidents leading to the death of standardbreds pales in comparison to that of the runners. But as the racing indus-try as a whole, faces the scrutiny of what has happened recently in California, the general public won’t realize this, so I believe that we should be proactive in regard to letting people know about the great work we do when it comes to the welfare of our horses.

Personally, I’m very proud of who we are, and what we do, and from my vast experience I say we have nothing to hide.

In today’s world, people love animals more than ever - so it does matter what the general public thinks. I, for one, greatly admire anyone that loves animals, and works hard to ensure their safe treatment, both in and out of the racing world. I also have a lot of first-hand knowledge when it comes to how the very large majority of standardbreds are treated, and again, I say we have nothing to hide.

If the general public, or anyone else out there is concerned about the ethics and principles of people in this industry, maybe they need to know exactly what it is that we do on a daily basis, when it comes to caring for our equine athletes.

On a typical morning, in standardbred stables all across North America, this is usually what you’ll find:

After a nutritious, early-morning breakfast, most racehorses will get turned outside to play for a bit, and blow off some steam before jogging. After their house (stall) is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly, they’re brought back in and taken out on the track for some exercise. Following a 30-minute jog, they receive a nice, hot shampoo and bath, followed by a rub-down, then bundled up in a clean, soft blanket, and treated to more food and some clean, fresh water. After eating and drinking, and usually taking a nap, they’re given a grooming and a massage of sorts, before being fed their daily vitamins and nutrients. This is all followed by a large, and nutritious lunch.

It’s probably close to 1 pm by now, and at this point in the day, it’s my guess that the people caring for these horses have probably only had a coffee and a donut, or a piece of fruit at most. I’m certain the caretakers haven’t had any play time outside, or been to the gym for a workout, they haven’t cleaned their own homes yet this day, or had a hot bubble bath, two square meals, a massage, or ingested any expensive vitamins. And I can assure you that none of them have had time for a mid-morning nap!

We take better care of our horses than we do of ourselves - there’s no doubt in my mind.

The vets visit these stables daily. When were you last to the doctor?

They get shod and fit with new shoes every 3-4 weeks. When did you last get yourself a pedicure and buy yourself some new kicks?

Some people will tell you that, “Horses should be allowed to live in their natural environment 24/7/365.” Well when it was -25 degrees in January and I went and visited my horse, he was in a warm stall with clean bedding, lots of fresh hay and water, and he was wearing a $300 blanket. I don’t think I’ve ever spent $300 on a winter coat for myself. I wonder if he would have been better off outside in the elements on that day?

Let me say this once more: When it comes to the ethical treatment of our horses, I say we have nothing to hide.

And if you’re reading this, and you do have something to hide for some reason, then either straighten out your ways, or find a different job.

Dan Fisher
[email protected]

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