Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More horses reach finish line

Race horses can have a brief, exciting and even glorious life. It's after their careers end that they're in danger of being sold for slaughter, euthanized or abandoned. Last Sunday, a NYTimes editorial estimated one of these three fates befalls two out of three horses.

A scandal last spring, with nearly 200 former racers being readied for slaughter, called public attention to what can happen to horses, even when -- as was true here -- they're owned by a prominent, successful breeder.

One result: the New York Racing Association announced that breeders or trainers who sell horses for slaughter will be banned. Threat of punishment may be the only deterrent to people who would do such a thing.

Better yet, as the scandal story spread, individuals and organizations came to the horses' rescue, and many have been given homes on ranches and as "recreational companions." One group, the
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, buys horses for rural prisons where they're cared for by minimum-security inmates. Speaking about his horse, one inmate said, "The little guy just wants to run free."

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