Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rest in Peace, Eight Belles

I know by now, most of you have heard about the tragedy that occurred in the final moments of the Kentucky Derby. Eight Belles, a beautiful gray thoroughbred filly, was euthanized on the track only moments after finishing second in the high stakes race. Driven hard through the race, she suffered breaks to both ankles so severe that she couldn't even be moved into a trailer to be taken for medical care. The pictures of her sad end are gut-wrenching, but during the TV coverage, cameras turned away from the brutal reality of horse racing, choosing instead to focus on the winner, the horse who wasn't run to death this time.

The horrible injury that ended Eight Belles' life

In the midst of yet another horse racing tragedy, even those close to the sport are now questioning its future. Veteran sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote an article for the Washington Post in which she acknowledges honestly that, "... thoroughbred racing is in a moral crisis, and everyone now knows it. Twice since 2006, magnificent animals have suffered catastrophic injuries on live television in Triple Crown races, and there is no explaining that away. Horses are being over-bred and over-raced, until their bodies cannot support their own ambitions, or those of the humans who race them."

She goes on to state that an average of two horses per day an injured so severely during a race that they are no longer able to be used in competion. Persian Brave, a former racehorse in sanctuary at SASHA Farm with a similar injury, lived through his career-ending leg injury. He is merely crippled. Many aren't even that fortunate.

Feten (left) and Persian Brave (right), Former race horses living at SASHA Farm

Defenders of the 'sport' will say that the horses are athletes who are just doing what they love. Horses aren't athletes. Athletes choose to train and compete. Do the horses get to choose? On certain days, when the mood strikes them right, the three horses here, two former racers and a spunky little quarterhorse mix, run so hard that we can feel the ground rumble on the other side on the sanctuary. It's absolutely breathtaking to watch them sprint through the pasture. They do love to run, and they even love to race each other, but they get to choose how fast, how hard, and how long they run. When they're tired, they stop running and rest. Eight Belles didn't get to choose. Someone sat on her back and whipped her so she wouldn't stop, or even slow down when her body told her she was tired. Horses don't choose to run until their legs break.

PETA has
launched a campaign to end horse racing, hoping that public outrage over the recent tragedies will have some power to affect change. We hope it will, too.

I received this info via email from SASHA Farm, a wonderful farm sanctuary here in Michigan.


Anonymous said...

Amen, what a horrible end for a gorgeous creature...She worked to please her owner and trainer and that is her thanks? Keep fighting the good fight Patty, Hugs... MO

Countryfolk Keepsakes said...

Patty, I was sickened by this! :> (

Cookie said...

made me sick too - how very very sad :(

Jennifer B. said...

There is nothing in this world that makes my heart sing like a beautiful horse in all its youth and glory. A tradgedy like this one breaks my heart...I have loved horses ever since I was old enough to know what one was. Having worked in the horse racing industry stories like these are not as rare as many of you might think. Sadly the not so famous race horses that meet this fate are euthanized quietly with no media coverage. No one cries and mourns for them because no one knows. It is not just racing industry that pushes these animals way too early in their lives when their bones have not matured enough for the training they endure. There are many horse industries that practise this. A horse at the age of two or three is not fully developed either in their spine or legs. Even the "survivors" often times suffer long term effects from their early training days.
I am hope the death of Eight Belles stays in our hearts and can bring about a change for these magnifiscent creatures who have no say in their fate.
Thank you Patty for reminding us to continue to fight for them.

Dogpatch Primitives said...

yep, that is just it. I think in general, as a society we do not like to think of an animal suffering, or at least that is what I would hope most of us are thinking, and Jenn, you hit the nail on the head, most folks are not even aware of what goes on behind the scenes of some of mans stupid entertainment, b/c the people standing to make money at an innocent animals expense, DO NOT WANT US TO KNOW!!!!!!! If they can keep us wearing our "rose colored glasses" all is well in their world. But it seems to me the animals finally are having some voice here, it may be at the expense of their own lives, but we are seeing the real truth, of what really goes on.
I sure hope this serves as reminder how very greedy man can be!

Prim and Proper Folks said...

Oh yes...I totally agree. That was just the saddest sight I have seen in a long long time. My heart was breaking for poor Eight Belles. May she rest in peace.

Thank you for sharing this info with all of us, Patty. Hugs- Susan

~GoldieLoo Woodworks~ said...

OMG, I didn't know about this story Patty. Although I know things like this happen behind the scenes all the time. It breaks my heart.I cant watch any of these races, rodeos or any sport where animals are used. To me it feels like another form of "dog fighting" really. Thanks for brining the story to our attention.~~Pam