Moral Progress Cannot Be Stopped

Patrick Battuello, Horseracings Wrongs

I want to be crystal clear on the change we seek (and perhaps aid in the planning of future “horse racing industry symposiums”). There is no “middle ground” to be had. We are not looking for a mere seat at the table or to “change the face of the sport,” we want the table gone, the “sport” erased. No compromise, no reform – an end to horseracing, pure and simple…

Sensibilities in regard to animals are changing: Ringling has retired its elephants; SeaWorld is phasing-out its orcas; “vegan” is no longer an alien word. Is it so hard, then, to imagine a world where horses are no longer beaten, maimed, and killed for $2 bets? I think not.

horse racingRacing is set to hold the latest in what feels like an endless stream of take-stock-of-our-industry conferences this December in Arizona.

The “Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming” will feature the usual fare – “cultivating customer loyalty,” finding “new wagering products” to help “grow the sport,” improving “medication and substance integrity,” etc. – but one item on the docket stands out as not just atypical for events like this but downright game-changing.

On the final day, comes this:

The Animal Rights Agenda: An Issue That Can No Longer Be Ignored

Animal rights protesters were found in large numbers outside racing’s two most iconic tracks this summer, Saratoga and Del Mar, and they aren’t going away. Is there any middle ground racing can find with these groups? Panelists with years of experience dealing with these types of groups will enlighten the audience of tactics these organizations use, some successful campaigns used against them as well as the animal rights groups successes that have fundamentally changed the way a number of animal industries operate. Now is the time for racing to seriously consider how the actions of these groups may forever change the face of the sport.

Remarkable. Truly remarkable. First, the obvious: We’re winning; the above is proof-positive. By our numbers, which we plan on growing exponentially next summer, through unrelenting exposure, we have compelled them to confront us – to put us on the agenda. (And, not so gently nudged the media: Because our protests practically demanded coverage, for the first time in 150 years the killing at “iconic” Saratoga received more than a mere glossing over.) From here, as any student of the great social-justice movements can tell you, the writing is on the wall. You see, these things don’t just fade away; they get stronger and stronger and stronger, until – change.

Here, though, I want to be crystal clear on the change we seek (and perhaps aid in the planning of future “symposiums”). There is no “middle ground” to be had. We are not looking for a mere seat at the table or to “change the face of the sport”; we want the table gone, the “sport” erased. No compromise, no reform – an end to horseracing, pure and simple. And I can save them even more time. Our “tactics” are neither elaborate nor, for that matter, even plural. In this fight, we wield but one, simple tool: education. Impart knowledge; let compassion and conscience take it from there.

Finally, I almost find it astounding that they would make public their plan to identify “campaigns” to use against us. Insulting, really, as if we’re not sophisticated enough to do anything more than hold placards, incapable of monitoring their activities. Or maybe they just don’t care. Maybe the threat we pose, though they concede as real, does not rise to some requisite level of seriousness that would warrant more secrecy. No matter, the upshot remains the same. Attempts to discredit, to smear, to muddle our message, to repackage their century-old lie of a message – horseracing is a sport, the horses “athletes” – will not work, for we are smart; we are organized; but above all, we have the facts – the truth – on our side. And truth, folks, is irrepressible.

Yes, sensibilities in regard to animals are changing: Ringling has retired its elephants; SeaWorld is phasing-out its orcas; “vegan” is no longer an alien word. Is it so hard, then, to imagine a world where horses are no longer beaten, maimed, and killed for $2 bets? I think not. And judging by the above, I believe the racing people can see it, too.

http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-moral-progress-horseracing.html

No “Unwanted” Retired Race Horses

Horse Racing

Horse Racing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Story by Chris Kenning of the Louisville Courier-Journal.com

National group will raise money, accredit care programs

When a thoroughbred thunders past cheering racetrack crowds, it does so with the help of an off-track entourage of trainers, handlers and owners providing constant, doting care.

But for the horses no longer making money on the racetrack or in the breeding barn — when they become too old, injured or too slow to race — that attention quickly evaporates. And their future becomes anything but certain.

Only a minority of former racehorses get cushy retirements in bucolic pastures. While some are retrained as show horses or adopted for personal use, others are sold at auction, leaving them subject to neglect or being bought for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

“There aren’t enough homes for the horses that need them,” said Kathy Guillermo, an equine specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “And there has historically been a lack of collective responsibility for what happens to thoroughbreds once they finish racing.”

Now, a broad coalition of thoroughbred industry stakeholders has kicked off racing’s most comprehensive initiative to date, establishing the Lexington-based Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance to act as a national fundraising and accrediting body to oversee, and help fund, the horses’ retirement care.

Supporters hope it will bolster a patchwork of smaller, private rescue and retirement programs that have struggled with funding and, in some cases, inconsistent oversight.

Funded by seed money from the Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club and Keeneland Association, the organization will inspect and accredit after-care facilities using standards covering operations, education, horse management, facility services, insurance and adoption policies. It will also begin raising millions of dollars to award programs that pass muster.

“People are starting to acknowledge that it’s a major issue for the sport,” said Mike Ziegler, interim executive director for the group, who said he’s optimistic it will bring substantial improvements to a side of the “sport of kings” that few spectators ever see.

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