It's almost May and you live in Louisville.....enough said! (Repost)
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Louisville this time of year is beautiful.
All the dogwoods of multiple colors, redbuds, and crab-apples are starting to show their pretty colors as well as the honeysuckle,
azalea bushes and flowers like phlox, tulips and irises are out....the smells are amazing, unless you are going by JBS Swift (pig processor here in town.....yes you heard me in town!)
So I was on my bicycle the other day, I hadn't been on my bike since November so I was totally happy. "Who-hoo" I shouted out loud as I started off. My plan was to bike around Old Lou to see all the evidence that Spring had sprung. I saw beautiful flowers and new buds, but they didn't seem as magnificent, also the air felt very oppressive, and I got tired very fast. Even though it was a clear day I felt I was looking through a haze filtered glass and breathing through an unfiltering mask..... then I made the connection of what was in Louisville the day before.....Thunder.
Louisville has this tendency to do things and then ignore the consequences it causes. Think about Blacklung, mountain top removal, making teachers get Masters to keep employment and then denying basic promises/pensions, putting houses in flood planes, athlete incentives, the way LG&E cuts trees for their power lines to go through-one good burst of wind and Eastern Parkway is a total mess! ....I could keep going and going, but you get the point.
So here we are coming up on Kentucky Derby. For a lot of people there is no thought of what goes into this race. It's all fun and games full of voyeurism and binging terrible drinks....ever had a Mint Julep.....gross! But it all makes sense in an industry that has stupid rules that lead to torture and death for thousands of animals. Yup you heard me right!
According to Peta , Wikipedia, and our local WFPL about 500-800 horses die every year at tracks! Those are just the reported numbers, not sure about the training prior, injuries that develop, and health after the race is over.
So here is a stupid rule, in order to be a thoroughbred, the actual act of reproduction has to be witnessed.....called live covering. Weird, talk about voyourism! Unlike a significant number of registered breeds today, a horse cannot be registered as a Thoroughbred (with The Jockey Club registry) unless conceived by live cover, the witnessed natural mating of a mare and a stallion. WTF!
The major problem here is that the mares, once they give birth, are shipped to be bred again leaving their thoroughbred foal behind. (A normal gestation period for a horse is 11 months, a mare is able to conceive again 7-10 days after giving birth. That's crazy, so a mare could conceivably be bred, give birth, and be bred again before the year is out!)
What do you do? You get a nurse mare. Sounds quaint and very 18th century England doesn't it?
There is nothinh quaint about it. In order to raise the thoroughbred foal, a substitute mother is needed. OK, that sound fine, but not when you know what happens before....
The substitute mother/nurse mare has to be bred and give birth in order to give milk and care for the thoroughbred foal. Where does that leave her baby.....ever heard of pony leather? These babies are lead to slaughter, clubbed to death and left to compost in a heap of dead foals behind a barn somewhere, or rescued by some very good people .
The amount of nurse mares needed and hence the foals they produce can not all be rescued. There were over 100,000 thoroughbred foals registered last year.
So numbers are a powerful convincer, but alas as usual something that is 'Shady' is not easy to find. But even if nurse mares are not needed in every thoroughbred breeding situation even one dead foal in order for a 'better' breed to live is too much!
(Aren't they cute! and they are considered Trash-horses. The nurse mare foals....Born to die!)
Then there is the made-up rule of when it is best to run. So a racehorse typically is debuted at around 2 1/2 years old. At this age, there bones are not fully formed, and are more prone to damage. Now the healing process can make their ankles stronger, but it all depends on the trainer, the money involved, and how long the injury will take to heal (horses start to decline after 5 years old). Most will opt for fast recovery and pump the horse full of steroids and pain killers. At this point the horses stats will continue to climb until around 5, then the horse will start to decline until it is 'retired' at age 10.
Now to retire a horse, takes a pretty penny, and depending on what that horse was worth (let's face it money-wise, not companionship-wise), and possibly still worth through breeding them, an owner might 'retire' the horse, but chances are they will be sent to slaughter. Not in the US, but in another country. 'We' are OK with that. Out of sight, out of mind!
So all in all, I understand that money makes a lot of decisions in Louisville, Ok everywhere! But I feel we need to do some real soul-searching. Are we really the best species, betting money, and needing to be entertained by an industry that is going to end in premature death? Should we support an industry that actually does more harm (think good karma) than good?