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When Did We Start Blaming the Owners?

It’s not a question I can answer, but it certainly seems to have become a trend.

Something happens to, “x,” horse at a young age and it’s the owners fault.

I first noticed this in 2017, after Royal Delta died due to foaling complications.

People were up in arms about how it was obvious she wasn’t meant to be bred, and her owner’s greediness caused this.

Ok.

35% of mares overall don’t get into foal. Zenyatta didn’t the first time she was bred. Now, when it comes to getting in foal, well, it’s sound a touch weird. If the embryo doesn’t fully touch the uterus by 16 days, the body will not recognize the embryo, and reject it.

Royal Delta then miscarried her second foal. Miscarrying isn’t a bad thing, or abnormal. Though, it is heartbreaking. Miscarriage has a negative connotation, but it’s actually a good thing. Essentially, a miscarriage is your body, “sensing,” something is wrong with the fetus, and self terminates the pregnancy. Does this always happen? No, but I digress.

None of those are any indication that something catastrophic would happen, and yet, the owners got blamed.

Rachel Alexandra almost died after having her second foal, and the farm received get well cards from fans.

The only real difference is that Rachel Alexandra never had a problem getting in foal.


Another trend is when a farm sells a stallion, to wherever, is greedy and just in it for money. Technically, this is true. Hate it all you want, horseracing is a business, and in order to stay in business, you have to meet certain criteria’s in a certain time frame. If a farm has a stallion, that isn’t really having mares sent to him, and his foals aren’t bringing in good money at the sales (sorry, 300 k, actually isn’t actually good money), and someone comes to the farm with an offer, yes, the farm is going to take the offer. They have to, or they will be shut down.

We don’t know how the farm feels about that. They buy stallion rights because they believed in the stallion. I’m going to guess farms are more likely to be upset that the stallion they believed in, didn’t come through.

Plus, because of the tragedy with Ferdinand, most farms now have a buy-back clause. WinStar didn’t suddenly realize what a great stallion Take Charge Indy was, they made an agreement from the get-go that they could get him back after three years.


Now we move onto, “the owner hasn’t disclosed how the horse died, so they must be hiding something.” Or, and I’m just spit-balling here, they’re grieving and had a hard enough time even announcing that the horse died. They could also be waiting for an autopsy result. As someone who has been in this business eleven years, it’s amazing what random things horses can get hurt/die from.

This category goes hand and hand with the owner did know but did NOTHING to try to save the horse. Especially if the horse was young. I had to put down a horse who was six years old, after spending a year, and literal putting thousands of dollars in trying to find out what was wrong with him. It turned out that he had neck osteoarthritis so severely, that he had to be put down, and it was also a miracle that he never collapsed while being ridden.

We’ve somehow gotten into this instant gratification mindset, and if we don’t get a step-by-step update, then that means the owner did nothing. Or, and I’m just spit-balling again, had more important things to do (like, try to save the horse) to give an update.

Owners also don’t owe us a single thing, and with the amount of backlash they can get, even if they are open and honest, I wouldn’t want to announce anything more either.


Nurse-mares are a fun topic. The mare died because the owner was selfish!

Again, no.

Maiden mares tend not to be the best mothers. Rachel Alexandra’s mother tried to kill her and didn’t become maternal until her third foal. Rachel’s Valentina was raised by a nurse-mare, because of the intense care Rachel Alexandra needed.

Then you add in the cruelty of ripping away the nurse-mares foal, and how it gets shipped off.

When a nurse-mare is not needed, nothing happens to her foal. Even then, they get raised with other foals. Godolphin made a whole video series showcasing this. As for what ultimately happens to the foal. Most of the nurse-mares are sports/draft horse mixes, meaning their foals are in demand, and the owner of the nurse-mare usually has a contract that ensures the foal ends up in a good home.


Next we have the, raced one too many times which lead to a fatal breakdown syndrome. The gelding was raced one more time than it should have been and broke down.

Kelso raced 63 times, was Horse of the Year five, and went on to be a show jumper. Zippy Chippy was raced 100 times, and never won. While he wasn’t gelded, Battle of Midway raced only 16 times, with an over-all record of 16: 8-4-2, before suffering from a fatal injury. My late off-track ran 29 times, and I rode six days a week for three years and showed for two of them. And who knows how often he was ridden during the decade he was retired from the track, and when I got him. He passed from EPM.

So, what exactly determines that one last time that ended up fatal? You know, to prevent it.

Yes, some should be retired simply because they are losing. But that’s an entirely different subject.


I could go on, but I am choosing to end this on how often a stallion is bred.

Yes, I’m sure fornicating three times a day is far more strenuous then being a racehorse, or Olympic horse, Grand Prix horse…or mine.

“Overbreeding,” doesn’t cause a horse to have a heart attack. Actually, they don’t have heart attacks. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage in the coronary artery. That can’t happen to a horse, instead, their aorta (the largest artery in the body) ruptures. When this happens, it’s actually categorized as a, “sudden death.” This is actually a rare event, and most of the fatalities are caused by a catastrophic musculoskeletal injury. Like with the late Bobby Abu Dhabi. He fractured his sesamoid bone, and then fractured his neck during the fall. It was first reported as a heart attack.

If anything, these sudden deaths are far more likely to happen to any equine athlete. You just don’t hear about it because other sports aren’t in the public eye as much as horseracing is. Swale is a good example. Raced 14 times and dropped dead after a bath. I’ve even seen these sudden deaths called the, “Swale syndrome.”

With the internet right under our fingers, it’s easy to come across an article written by an impudent child who condemns horseracing simply because they have no knowledge, and instead of questioning what they just read, the new person takes up arms in the same way. Which causes a snowball effect.

Owners end up getting blamed for a number of things and being heartless, when touring just about a horse farm will prove the complete opposite.

Can’t afford to visit the state to visit a horse farm?

Ok, google the owner. There are plenty of photos that also prove the opposite.

Or don’t. People are still happily willing to believe Marie Antoinette actually said, “Let them eat cake.” Because it’s in a history book. Never you mind that we have proof that she never said that.


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