Special Report by JANE ALLIN
Part 1 of 5
PART ONE: FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“Graceful and sleek, the beautiful bay racehorse was used to the thunder of applause as she swept past the grandstand – not the sound of a rifle. The seven-year-old mare had raced at courses up and down the country, nostrils flaring, long neck straining and mane flying in the wind as she approached the winning post. However, earlier this month, her career ended unceremoniously with one last outing – to the slaughterhouse.
She was led into a 12 ft square metal stall and killed with a bullet fired from the ‘meat man’s’ .22 rifle into her brain.
No more crowds, galloping hooves up the home straight or champagne corks popping. That single shot was the last sound she heard.”
FOR DECADES HORSE RACING has been touted as the “Sport of Kings”, resplendent with charismatic beauty, energy and awe-inspiring competition of humankind’s most celebrated and noble companions.
What once began as a sport that captivated the masses in pursuit of exhilarating recreation and honed the excellence of horsemanship required in battle has now become but a mass-producing genetic assembly line in an absurd quest for racing excellence fueled by greed.
The consequences of this development are not pretty.
The multi-billion dollar racing industry cultivates the fallacious impression of retired racehorses living lives of luxury, grazing in fields of Kentucky bluegrass, serving as pampered family pets or well-provided-for riding horses and the like. In reality the vast majority of thoroughbreds (2 out of every 3) coming off the track, regardless of their health, are either euthanized, abandoned or slaughtered for their meat.
Most of these are young, healthy horses who simply have not met their owner’s expectations or injured during the grueling task of training and racing while pumped full of drugs.  Only a small number of the whole are considered good enough for breeding which is primarily reserved for only the best in the industry. For thousands of Thoroughbreds that do not make the grade, whatever the reason, the end is both terrifying and brutal.
Intentional or not, the horse racing industry now subsists as a principal tributary of the slaughter pipeline – a confluence where magnificent bloodstock race for their lives toward the equine version of the river Styx – the river that separates the world of the living from that of the dead.
Jane Allin is Chief Research Analyst for the Int’l Fund for Horses
© Int’l Fund for Horses