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Mila
May 4th, 2008, 02:31 AM
I'm using the Huffington Post version of this because of some of the insensitive comments in response to this article.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/03/kentucky-derby-horse-eigh_n_99987.html

AP reports:


Big Brown backed up his trainer's boasts with an explosive finishing kick and won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday - a day marred by the fatal breakdown of the filly Eight Belles.

The cheers for the winner's decisive victory were cut short when Eight Belles, the runner-up, was euthanized on the track minutes after the race when she collapsed with two broken front ankles.Hillary Clinton last week put her money on Eight Belles to win the race:


"I hope that everybody will go to the derby on Saturday and place just a little money on the filly for me," Sen. Clinton told supporters in Jeffersonville, Ind., ABC News reports. "I won't be able to be there this year - my daughter is going to be there and so she has strict instructions to bet on Eight Belles."Eight Belles actually ended up finishing second in the race, just behind Big Brown. But in a shocking and tragic development, just as Eight Belles crossed the finish line, jockey Gabriel Saez "heard the worst sound possible - a pop."



Saez said the filly did not take a bad step, but he heard the pop and tried to pull her up.

"I tried to get her to stop," he said. "I tried to get her to stop, but she wouldn't stop."

Dr. Larry Bramlege the on-call veterinarian from the American Association of Equine Practitioners said on NBC that the the horse broke both front ankles. She was euthanized on the track.The rest of the AP article is below:



The unbeaten Big Brown took charge when the 20-horse field turned for home. Under the urging of jockey Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown cruised to a 4 3/4-length victory to become the seventh unbeaten Derby winner with his fourth consecutive win. The last one was Barbaro in 2006.

Eight Belles was attempting to become the fourth filly to win the Derby. However, as the horses galloped out around the first turn, the filly fell to the ground and jockey Gabriel Saez jumped off.

An equine ambulance came onto the track, but the filly could not be saved, said Dr. Larry Bramlage, the Derby's on-call veterinarian.

"When we passed the wire I stood up. She started galloping funny. I tried to pull her up. That's when she went down," a distraught Saez said.Why do they kill horses with broken limbs? Is it because they don't want to pay for their care?

RedWellies
May 4th, 2008, 02:51 AM
Not necessarily, Mila. A horse is a large animal and cannot be sucessfully imobilised like a smaller animal can. Immobility can also lead to intestinal trouble; a horse is deigned to be on the move. Also,if both fetlocks broke, the horse would be unable to take any weight off its front legs. It sounds like a typical case of a horse being pushed too hard too young.

I thought only colts ran in the Derby,not fillies? Times have obviously changed.

RubyDuby
May 4th, 2008, 02:54 AM
it makes me sick.
i cant even put my thoughts to words.

Mila
May 4th, 2008, 06:56 AM
I thought only colts ran in the Derby,not fillies? Times have obviously changed.
If I recall correctly, a filly won the derby last year and was the first in a long time. Three have won in total.

Why are we still engaged in this barbaric ritual, anyway? It's not as though we still use (or need to use) animals for pulling things anymore.

Mahk
May 5th, 2008, 08:08 PM
Why do they kill horses with broken limbs? Is it because they don't want to pay for their care?

I think with only one leg broken they can, but with two (I assume a rather rare occurrence) no one has invented a horse capacity wheel chair. They have them for dogs though:

http://www.dogkarts.com/articles/train/smcruising%20on%20the%20beach.JPG

Keep in mind these animals are thought of as race cars, not pets. If one totals a car one throws it away and buys a new one. Sad, but that's how they think of them.

How "convenient" that the rider only sensed something was wrong after the race. Of course if he admitted that he could tell something was wrong yet continued to whip the horse to the finish he would look bad. Keep in mind the rider doesn't own the horse and is under a lot of financial pressure to win at all cost.

So how can we prevent these tragedies? Ban horse (and dog) racing.

More details and Peta's response:
http://news.aol.com/sports/story/_a/peta-wants-derby-jockey-suspended/20080505071509990001

cobweb
May 5th, 2008, 08:17 PM
i'm REALLY not defending horse racing but would like to make a couple of points:

1) a horse is very different to a dog in terms of anatomy and is also a very different type of animal in terms of recuperation so often broken bones really aren't mendable

2) most people who own/train/ride horses care about them, and most horse enjoy racing - though there are of course exceptions to the rule as with everything

3) there are actually rules in place to prevent horse from being 'whipped' in races these days (most of the 'whipping' you might see is just wrist action, not contact)

let me state again - i do not condone horse racing, i have worked in the industry but not for many years now, i just hate seeing people constantly commenting on things which they know little about and implying that everyone who is involved in racing is a cold hearted jerk who cares nothing for the animals. Not true.

i had a couple of horse die on me years ago (in fact the last one was the reason i packed in the job) and it hit me, and everyone else involved, like a bullet through the heart. Take it or leave it but i'm telling the truth.

Mahk
May 5th, 2008, 08:42 PM
Apparently this event wasn't a total fluke after all. A similar thing happened two years ago:

"But were her injuries avoidable? Following on the eerily similar breakdown of Barbaro in the Preakness Stakes in 2006, is the racing industry doing enough to prevent such heart-breaking outcomes?

Barbaro's months-long struggle for survival made him America's (and Canada's) darling; his wealthy owners poured millions of dollars into his care, yet he eventually had to be put down, too."

Source. (http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/421334)

Just for the record, I used to ride horses for pleasure (not racing), both Western, English, and I even started to take dressage classes (just one) before I just plain lost interest and quit. I was even thrown from a horse once (with no helmet) in the beginning but luckily only had the wind knocked out of me and was up riding again in just a few minutes.


and most horse enjoy racing

Were these horses that were polled interviewed in English or horse? :rolleyes: Were the small percentage that indicated they didn't want to race then allowed to retire?

On a side note. If anyone cares about the other animal being put in danger by these events, the jockeys, I thought to point out that horse racing is one of the most lethal sports on the planet. About one in a thousand jockeys will die from their vocation:

According to information that was cited in Cantu, Boxing and Medicine, Human Kinetics Illinois, fatality rates per 100,000 participants were as follows.

o Horse-racing = 128

o Sky-diving = 123

o Hang gliding = 55

o Mountaineering = 51

o Scuba diving = 11

o Motorcycle Racing = 7

o College football = 3

o Boxing = 1.3

As for the danger to the horses, all I can find is deaths per starts (not deaths per capita) per track surface (dirt vs. synthetic):

"Preliminary statistics from a new on-track injury reporting program showed fatality rates among horses that run on synthetic surfaces are nearly identical to the fatality rates of horses that run on traditional dirt tracks. Synthetic tracks averaged 1.95 deaths per 1,000 starts over the course of the study, compared to 1.96 deaths per 1,000 starts for horses that ran on dirt. "

Source. (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9507E5D81E3BF93AA25750C0A96E9C8B 63)

So let's apply a little math here: Roughly 2 in 1000 starts will die; that's equal to 1 in 500. The Kentucky Derby has 20 horses per race (currently) so 500 divided by 20 equals 25. So statistically speaking, on average, one horse dies for every 25 races we witness. Not good.:(

creativegan
May 5th, 2008, 09:06 PM
2) most people who own/train/ride horses care about them, and most horse enjoy racing - though there are of course exceptions to the rule as with everything

How do we know that most horses enjoy racing? Maybe because they are trained to do this that it's all they know?

I feel strongly that we should not be using animals for our own entertainment or to make money, even if the are loved and "treated well" by their caretakers. Clearly this horse was pushed to the limit and the exhaustion caused her ankles to break. So sad.

cobweb
May 5th, 2008, 09:59 PM
horses are pack animals, many do enjoy racing and will continue even after their jockey has fallen off mid-way through.

as i said, i am NOT condoning horse racing, obviously it is the 'use' of animals for entertainment and sporting purposes, but i do not believe that everyone involved is cruel and heartless.

as someone who has spent the majority of their life around horses i would say that i can speak 'horse' fairly well, i never jump to conclusions and rarely talk about things that i am ignorant about.

however, whilst many horses that don't enjoy racing are retired to private homes (i used to have one myself), there are also those who do suffer through being raced against their will (a minority). For that reason i cannot condone horse racing or the use of any animal for human entertainment, but, and i repeat, you shouldn't jump to conclusions about everyone involved.

cobweb
May 5th, 2008, 10:23 PM
p.s - i just want to make the point that i do totally see what is wrong with exploiting animals for any purpose, i suppose i'm just pernickity about people making sweeping generalisations about things though :o

i hate the fact that people eat animals but i accept that not everyone who does is inherently evil/cruel/heartless, they just see things from a non-vegan perspective.

cobweb
May 5th, 2008, 11:48 PM
I think with only one leg broken they can, but with two (I assume a rather rare occurrence) no one has invented a horse capacity wheel chair. They have them for dogs though:

http://www.dogkarts.com/articles/train/smcruising%20on%20the%20beach.JPG

Keep in mind these animals are thought of as race cars, not pets. If one totals a car one throws it away and buys a new one. Sad, but that's how they think of them.

How "convenient" that the rider only sensed something was wrong after the race. Of course if he admitted that he could tell something was wrong yet continued to whip the horse to the finish he would look bad. Keep in mind the rider doesn't own the horse and is under a lot of financial pressure to win at all cost.

So how can we prevent these tragedies? Ban horse (and dog) racing.

More details and Peta's response:
http://news.aol.com/sports/story/_a/peta-wants-derby-jockey-suspended/20080505071509990001


btw i have some worries about these wheels for dogs myself, and it highlights what is wrong with 'pet' 'ownership' and generally making decisions for animals. Also, if you think that it would be possible to do this with a horse then you obviously haven't spent a great deal of time with horses.

Mahk
May 6th, 2008, 03:20 AM
Also, if you think that it would be possible to do this with a horse then you obviously haven't spent a great deal of time with horses.

Yes, thank you for your kind words. Perhaps you missed where I wrote:

no one has invented a horse capacity wheel chair. I just showed the doggy wheels picture as an example of an injured animal recovery device, so people could conceptualize what one might be like, but of course one would need to be fashioned for a horse's body design and weight instead, obviously. Maybe we can send a man to the moon but building a wheeled support device for a recovering horse is just impossible, fine, whatever. I don't care. My real point is a single broken leg for a horse is no longer an automatic death sentence (like it used to be for the most part).

Instead of "wheelchairs" they seem to use mostly support slings. Even "Raffles" here, way back in 1949, had a broken hind leg that was placed in a cast/crutch device and had his weight partly supported by a sling:
http://www.geocities.com/aolsen_2000/RafflesBrokenLeg.JPG

The next year after his recovery:
http://www.geocities.com/aolsen_2000/RafflesPayneWeb.jpg
He also was able to sire offspring!

Their odds are not great and the recovery can be long and pricey but horses can recover from a single broken leg.

Barbaro, in 2006, survived for half a year and his bad leg actually was recovering rather well at first, but then what did him in was the added weight he was applying to the other legs to compensate fouled them up [laminitis (http://www.animalherbcompany.com/articles/laminitis.htm)] and it was decided by the owner and vets to euthanize him. Here he is shown wearing the more modern Anderson sling with one of his vets:
http://www.equisling.com/images/Anderson%2006.jpg

Back to Eight Belles' tragic death. Here's a surprisingly enlightened New York Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/sports/othersports/04rhoden.html?_r=1&oref=slogin):

Race Illustrates Brutal Side of Sport
By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
Published: May 4, 2008
Louisville, Ky.

Why do we keep giving thoroughbred horse racing a pass? Is it the tradition? The millions upon millions invested in the betting?

Why isn’t there more pressure to put the sport of kings under the umbrella of animal cruelty?

The sport is at least as inhumane as greyhound racing and only a couple of steps removed from animal fighting.

Is it the fact that horse racing is imbedded in the American fabric? And the Triple Crown is a nationally televised spectacle? Or is it the fact that death on the track is rarely seen by a mainstream television audience?

The sentiment was summed up by Dr. Larry Bramlage on Saturday when, asked about fillies racing against colts, he said, “One death is not an epidemic.”

But this isn’t about one death. This is about the nature of a sport that routinely grinds up young horses.

A national audience was exposed to the bittersweet experience of a tremendous victory by Big Brown and — moments later — the stunning news that Eight Belles had been euthanized. As we watched Big Brown’s owner celebrate the unmitigated joy of winning the Derby, we watched Bramlage describe the details of Eight Belles’s horrible death: She had completed the race, finishing a heroic second to Big Brown. She was around the turn at the start of the backstretch when her front ankles collapsed.

Bramlage described the sickening image of what had happened: a condylar fracture on the left side and the left front that opened the skin, went through it and was contaminated.

“She didn’t have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled off in the ambulance, so she was immediately euthanized,” Bramlage said.

And that was that.

After the race, Larry Jones, Eight Belles’s trainer, choked back tears as he answered questions about the filly’s death. But even through the grief, Jones instinctively toed the industry line about racing. He discounted the notion — and veiled criticism — that the dirt surface might have contributed to her death. He also refused to concede the point that horse racing is an extremely dangerous sport, saying that these types of injuries occur in any sport.

Within the racing industry, Eight Belles was a tragic but glorious casualty. The industry is in denial: racing grinds up horses, and we dress up the sport with large hats, mint juleps and string bands.

Why do we refuse to put the brutal game of racing in the realm of mistreatment of animals? At what point do we at least raise the question about the efficacy of thousand-pound horses racing at full throttle on spindly legs?

This is bullfighting.

Eight Belles was another victim of a brutal sport that is carried, literally, on the backs of horses. Horsemen like to talk about their thoroughbreds and how they were born to run and live to run. The reality is that they are made to run, forced to run for profits they never see.

On Saturday, it was Eight Belles in Louisville. Two years ago, it was Barbaro in Baltimore, with a misstep at the Preakness. And who knows how many horses die anonymous deaths? Eight Belles, we’ll write, was merely the casualty of a brutal game.

But one death is too many. The miracle of the sport of kings is that there aren’t more. But how many more do we need?

Before Saturday’s race, I walked over to the stable where Michael Matz was preparing Visionaire for the Derby. Matz was the trainer of Barbaro, the superhorse who won here in 2006 and took that fatal misstep two weeks later at the Preakness. On Friday, one of Matz’s horses, Chelokee, sustained a condylar fracture of the cannon bone in his right front leg during the running of the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs.

The initial report was that the injury was of the same nature as Barbaro’s, and that Chelokee had a fractured ankle. The reports were inaccurate, but I wondered what thoughts had gone through Matz’s mind.

“I just ran out there to see how he was doing,” he said. Barbaro hadn’t crossed his mind, he said, just this horse at this time. That was all. Matz talked briefly about Barbaro, about why the image remains so fresh in our minds. Then he excused himself. “I have to get my horse ready for this race,” he said.

John Stephens broke in Barbaro and Visionaire when they were yearlings. Stephens was in Baltimore when Barbaro took the misstep. That experience, he said, has tempered, if not changed, his perspective on horse racing.

“I want my horse to win — I’m not going to kid you,” he said. “But not at all costs. I don’t want any horse to get injured. I want everyone to have a good trip. I want everybody to come back home.”

The words haunted me as I left the stable and echoed as I saw Eight Belles in a heap. Thoroughbred racing is a brutal sport. Why do we keep giving it a pass?

E-mail: wcr@nytimes.com

cobweb
May 6th, 2008, 08:28 AM
^ Mahk i think all of the above is just backing up what i think so i agree with it all.

I wasn't being unkind to you, btw, anymore than you were when you asked me how i would know if a horse enjoys something, which i think i would have a fairly good idea of after spending my life with them.

I think it all goes to show what can go wrong when humans take animals into their lives and then start finding ways to exploit them. Whilst i wouldn't put racing on a par with bullfighting, where a bull is taunted and then purposefully killed, i would be happy to see it banned, yes.

RedWellies
May 6th, 2008, 10:14 AM
John Stephens broke in Barbaro and Visionaire when they were yearlings. This is why I'm so against the racing industry. A horse doesn't physically mature until 4 or 5 years old. Thoroughbreds used for racing do mature more quickly (at least physically) but one year old is WAY to soon to ask them to carry a rider. No wonder so many horses break down before they even make it to the track.

I hear what you're saying Cobweb, about some horses enjoying the race. I'm sure many do if they are fit and well. Like you say though, I would love to see it banned...or at the very least much more strictly regulated. Animal Aid (http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/horse/ALL///) are pushing for this in the UK. (That link shows two pictures of horses falling.)

cobweb
May 6th, 2008, 07:21 PM
^ i agree, Red Wellies, in fact i hate flat racing and always have done. I worked with jumpers, horses from 4 years upwards, i wouldn't have ridden youngsters, it sucks :mad:.

i do want racing banned, i hope i do not come across as supporting it, it was something i got into because i have family members who own racehorses, and a uncle who was a bookie, and i happened to love horses and rode from the age of 5. It wasn't the racing that attracted me though but the lovely, beautiful horses. All the horses i looked after were my friends and there was always mutual respect there :cool:.

I think i just wanted people to know that not everyone who is involved in racing is uncaring about the horses, that's really not true. I worked in my first job from 6.45a.m to 6pm most days (we had 1.5 days off on alternate weekends). It was hard, dangerous work, and i was paid 38 per week for doing this (in 1987) and I had to buy my own workwear, grooming kit, etc. You don't do that job unless you love horses.

Forgive me though if i sound like i am backing horse racing, i don't condone the exploitation of animals, full stop :faint_smilie:. I just get irked when i hear some vegans sounding a bit 'holier than thou' in assuming that everyone who doesn't see things from a vegan perspective is inherently bad or uncaring. Education is needed so that the 'general public' can see why racing should be banned, but likening it to bullfighting may be counterproductive.

Mahk
May 6th, 2008, 08:39 PM
I thought only colts ran in the Derby,not fillies? Times have obviously changed.

This was the first race Eight Belles was in against colts, apparently. In all the finger pointing going on in the news, this is one of the issues being brought up but fillies have been racing at the Kentucky Derby for a long time. The winner in 1915 was a filly, "Regret". (http://thoroughbred-racing.suite101.com/article.cfm/regret_1915_filly_wins_derby)

Thanks for the great Animal Aid link RW, I learned a lot. I hope you don't mind, but I'm putting a direct YouTube link here for easy access for all our readers from your link:
vV0dxf9Ou6Q

To Cobweb, RW (?), and all you other horse owners/riders/racers* etc: I know you and many others treat and care for horses in a loving and good way but the problem isn't with you, it is with the millions of other people who don't act this way. The way I see it, whenever you have an industry that uses animals such as horse racing, dog racing, the circus, magic acts, factory farming, or puppy mills, as examples, there is a proven tendency for abuse and exploitation, even though technically they all "could" operate in what most would consider a "humane" way. As long as there is money to be made, the well-being and comfort of the animals will always be secondary to profits, despite what the people in those industries claim. I am an abolitionist regarding these industries but I can respect how other people might have reformation views instead. We all have opinions and I'm not trying to say "I'm right, you're wrong", I'm just trying to say, "Here are my views, take it or leave it". I certainly didn't mean to come off with a "holier than thou" tone. Sorry if it sounded that way.


*Sorry to lump all these groups together. My views in this thread really are related to horse racing only, and I think we should keep it that way. Horse riding and owning threads already exist. This one should just be about racing. Agreed, everyone?

Mahk
May 6th, 2008, 09:38 PM
I wasn't being unkind to you, btw, anymore than you were when you asked me how i would know if a horse enjoys something, which i think i would have a fairly good idea of after spending my life with them.

Fair enough, I had taken these following two comments to be condescending put downs implying that I had no right to comment on this industry due to unfamiliarity. Perhaps I was reading into it too much, sorry.


i just hate seeing people constantly commenting on things which they know little about


then you obviously haven't spent a great deal of time with horses.

Also, you are right that Bullfighting is way worse. I think that NYT editorial was using it as a bit of hyperbole.

cobweb
May 6th, 2008, 09:41 PM
well you did a little to me, Mahk, but maybe i just feel some guilt over having been involved in the industry? ;)

anyway, it seems we are really in 100% agreement :amazed_ani: - for all those great people that really care for their animals, there are also those who don't - same with all 'pets', companion animals, ridden, farmed or breeding animals, which is one of the reasons i would like to see all animal 'ownership' fazed out completely.

cobweb
May 6th, 2008, 09:44 PM
Fair enough, I had taken these two comments to be condescending put downs implying that I had no right to comment on this industry due to unfamiliarity. Perhaps I was reading into it too much, sorry.


s'ok, i often come across that way, unfortunately :o:(

sadly i've had a couple of vegan friends in the past who were/are incredibly condescending and (often wrongly) assumed that anyone who is not a vegan must be either completely moronic and/or a cold-hearted-murderer. They were conveniently forgetting that they had previously not been vegans before making the change themselves :rolleyes:.

It's weird but i am mad about injustice, even if it means sometimes appearing to stand up for the 'wrong' side just to make my point :satisfied:.

Mahk
May 7th, 2008, 12:30 AM
Good we are on the same side then, Cobweb.:)

I'm sure you really do read horses much better than me but I think part of the whole problem with races is even the best animal readers can only get the gist of what the horse is saying. Say, for example, a horse violently thrashes about and makes frantic motions while being mounted by the jockey. Even I would know there was a problem and I'd like to think that a jockey and trainer would assume the horse was protesting either because of a serious discomfort or perhaps a poisoning from a evil competitor (just a hypothetical example, I've never heard of that) and call off the race. But does this ever happen? If a horse could talk and say, "Sorry, I have a really bad stitch in my side and I don't want to run today" we wouldn't have a problem. Or say in the case of Eight Belles, "I have a weird pain in both of my front legs, I can't explain it, but I don't want to run today".

The owner has called for an autopsy, so we may learn more, but I'm not confident we will ever be told the whole truth. Maybe Eight Belles did buck and twist violently but they mis-read it as, "Why am I racing against 19 boys?" jitters.

RubyDuby
May 7th, 2008, 01:00 AM
i am not at all saying u can't read horses cobweb, or at all implying that you are for horse racing... you've made it very clear that isn't the case.

The idea of humans knowing what animals want reminds me of my old boss who has a doberman rescue and good intentions. She has convinced herself that those large, energetic dogs enjoy living in crates, to the point that she refuses to adopt them out besides to rich men... because she loves them too much to lose them. :rolleyes:

Yes, they are very happy to be taken out of their crate to go potty and yes, they are happy to go back into their crate with the bowl of food and cookie inside... any attention they were happy to get, at least those who weren't too depressed to eat or too aggressive to handle... but really they like to live in crates???

I feel like a giant hypocrit for working with dogs at all...

cobweb
May 7th, 2008, 08:07 AM
aw, ruby that is sad about the dobies :(

cobweb
May 7th, 2008, 08:14 AM
Mahk i know what you're saying. Some people care more, and are more intuitive than others. I worked with some right ignoramuses. One day one of our horses suddenly went ape, rearing up and going wild. The man i worked with was getting angry, but i told him to let me look in the horse's mouth. Sure enough he had a sharp tooth and once he'd seen the horse dentist he was happy again. That is what makes me shudder with the thought of so many people being 'in charge' of animals :mad:.

It's quite possible that the horse in question, Eight Belles, didn't have any pain until the joints gave way though, it was probably a sudden snap. Sad though :(.

I gave up working in racing when a horse i had looked after, loved, rode every day, taught how to race, travelled all over the U.K with, fell in a race and split her liver open. I knew she was in a desperate state but the STUPID course vet passed her to travel home and she literally died in my arms in the back of the horsebox. I have never forgotten that moment, i felt like the biggest traitor of all time :down:.

cobweb
May 7th, 2008, 08:53 AM
thinking about all this have stirred up some powerful memories for me..........like the very first horse i ever took racing, when i was a 15 year old part time apprentice. He was kicked just before the race began, by another horse whilst they waited for the tape to go up, and then as he took off for the first fence his kicked leg snapped. He had to be shot on course - i should have realised that the universe was telling me to quit there and then :(.

in the 4 years i worked in racing, i have just worked out that i lost 4 of my horsey friends to on-course accidents. This has just made me feel quite emotional and renewed in my reasoning for promoting a ban so i'm glad we have this thread. I must stop defending the wrong side :o.

powder
May 8th, 2008, 07:51 AM
I had a letter to the editor (http://ananimalfriendlylife.com/2008/05/boston-globe-publishes-my-eight-belles.html) about the coverage (and incident) published in the Boston Globe, if you're interested.