Saturday, May 3, 2008

Another one bites the dust

For anyone who hasn't heard yet, Eight Belles - the filly entered in this year's Kentucky Derby - placed an impressive second.

Then she broke both ankles, hit the dirt and had to be immediately euthanized.

Yes, another stunningly horrific live-on-camera breakdown. I know everybody is going to want to discuss this. I'll give you my 2 cents worth first and then you can give yours.

I do not think racing is evil or cruel or any worse than most other equestrian disciplines.

However, I feel strongly that yearlings should not be ridden - no matter what the purpose. I don't care if it's a yearling who is going to be a racehorse, a yearling who is going to be a show horse, or a yearling who is going to be your pleasure horse. They are NOT READY to carry weight. I am absolutely convinced that riding them too early contributes to breakdowns in racing, as well as all of the 3 and 4 year olds with ringbone, navicular and arthritis that are quietly shuffled out the back door of Big Mister Pleasure Trainer's Barn and off to the auction they go without their papers.

That's not on TV though. I almost feel sorry for racing, it takes the lion's share of the badmouthing because it's so public. Someone needs to do a little research project and try to figure out how many of the get of any Big Name AQHA or APHA stud are alive, well, and sound at age 10. That's something I would love to read.

I will go so far as to say I believe riding a horse under 24 months of age should be illegal.

Do I think that Eight Belles' owners/trainer/jockey are greedy bastards who don't care what happened to her? No. I am sure they are miserable right now. I am sure they wanted nothing more for her than a nice retirement after this, raising her babies. However, they - and everybody else involved in racing - need to look at all the breakdowns and ask themselves how they can decrease these fatal events in the future. Boy, would I be impressed if they came out publicly and said they weren't going to ride yearlings anymore...that they were going to do as my friend does who has racehorses in SoCal and break them out as late 2's and race them at 3. If they would come out and say they learned from their mistake - running the crap out of a huge (17 hands, reportedly) baby who wasn't ready - I would totally respect that. I'd love it if they said, we don't care what everybody else does, we're not going to do it anymore.

I can dream, right?