Beverly Strauss of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue

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This was written by Bev of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue in the comment section of the article Unwanted Horses? Yes and No published in The Rail (NY Times Triple Crown blog) 6/1/08

52.June 3rd, 2008, 9:23 am

Thank you Alex for opening up this discussion. There are so many points that must be considered, but with discourse such as this, we can come closer to a reasonable solution.

We are directly involved with rescuing thoroughbreds from the kill pens at New Holland- although there are many many other horses going to kill, my colleague Ginny Suarez and I both have racing roots- thoroughbreds are near and dear to us, and that is our focus. These horses are bred and raised for our sport and enjoyment. They are highly intelligent and well socialized. They do their best to do what we ask of them, yet if they are not fast enough or sound enough or productive enough, they are discarded, to make room for another horse that may be more successful. The term “unwanted” does not necessarily mean crippled or unhealthy or without a future-it means “We don’t want this horse any more because he is not winning enough to keep us in the game.” It does not even mean that the horse never was productive- we have pulled TBs that were stakes winners and track record setters, as well as maidens and unraced stock. As they go down the claiming ladder, though, there is less concern for their well-being– the focus changes to picking up any bit of purse money just to pay part of the feed bill.

Just because a horse is deemed “unwanted” by its racing connections does not mean it would not be wanted by someone in the riding/show community. We have placed hundreds of horses in homes where they are now useful and loved. There are hundreds of groups across the country doing the same thing.

We need the commitment of the racing industry- owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, and fans– to secure the future of our horses. We just need a little bit of time, money, and effort by everyone involved with racing in order to provide our thoroughbreds with options at the end of their track careers, whether it is placement in new homes or humane euthanasia. Humane euthanasia can certainly include a well placed bullet, but it does not include slaughter– unless the slaughter practices change drastically.

We owe it to our thoroughbreds. I will tell you, and Alex will attest to this as well- when you walk into a pen filled with horses going to kill, the thoroughbreds are the ones who will walk right up to you and look you in the eye. No, I don’t believe they know at that point what the future holds, and are begging to be rescued. I do believe they look to us because they know we have always taken care of them and approach us as if to say, ok what do you want me to do now? They trust us implicitly. This is the ultimate betrayal.

Bev Strauss MidAtlantic Horse Rescue Chesapeake City, MD

— Posted by Beverly Strauss