Trailered Slaughter Horse. Google image.

NYT Movie Review: Saving America’s Horses

Horse Transported to Slaughter
Horse Transported to Slaughter

The New York Times film critic NICOLAS RAPOLD reviews “Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed“, a documentary by Katia Louise about the slaughter of U.S. horses.

While Rapold concludes it is a mishmash of a documentary “emotionally and visually tough to watch”, what he did take away from the film is this:

When horses are of no use to us, or they roam public lands desired by cattle ranchers, they are, we learn, brutally shipped to slaughterhouses, mistreated and killed. “Saving America’s Horses” details the horrors and the corrupt and negligent practices surrounding the slaughter of over 100,000 horses a year. Special censure is reserved for the federal Bureau of Land Management’s apparent brief against mustangs (aka wild horses) and the dismantling in 2004 of a protective 1971 government act.

We are grateful for Mr. Rapold’s review and the fact that hundreds of thousands more will learn about the existence and evils of horse slaughter.

Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed” opens today, December 7, 2012, in New York City at The Quad Cinema.

Read full review here >>

17 thoughts on “NYT Movie Review: Saving America’s Horses”

  1. Gina, he was not sold privately. He went through the claiming ranks and was claimed many many times. Please get your facts straight. You can’t be taken seriously if you don’t. He was trainer by Scott Lake and owned by Gumpster Stable at one point. I didn’t check all of his PPs but I am sure Gill claimed him from Lake and Gumpster. And I can assure that Scott Lake is no prize. I am sure the horse did not apppear sore when he passed the vet check. As you know, the story of MichaelGill is the jockeys at Penn National (where Mighty Beau broke down) refused to ride for him one night because his horses where breaking down at such a high rate. I am sure they had been drugged because if they were that sore they would not run hard enough to break legs off. The pain would have been too great. It is the administration of drugs and joint injections that makes the horse think its okay and it looks good to the vet.

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  2. I’m not sure if Rapold’s review of the film is good seeing as he referred to it as a mess of a documentary. That sounds more like he was complaining about the film because of the way it was presented. I don’t pay to much attention to people that review films if they complain about it for some reason I go to see it for myself and it usually turns out to be good.

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    1. Exactly. I form my own opinions based on my direct experience with viewing a movie or interaction with individuals. When a movie exposes harsh realities then people that uphold a horrific and unjust system may be the very one reviewing and submitting an opinion. Therefore, I recommend taking it with a grain if salt and go watch it for yourself. I just have to find out where I can see it? Anybody know?

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      1. The horse you speak of Gina, nothing EVER was done? A horse that sore & a vet ok’s him fit to run. Not only the owner of him, the trainer, the vet & this track should have been ‘outed’! Not sure how it can be done, but when people on the ‘inside’ KNOW of this cruelty do nothing…how the hell does the rest of the world know?

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        1. His final owner was Michael Gill who has been banned from most racetracks so that explains the owner angle. The trainer is merely an extension of the owner in this case. I blame the original owners who owned “Mighty Beau” in his prime while he made 4 million for them. It was their moral obligation to provide this horse with a safe retirement. Instead, knowing that he was sore and could no longer compete at stake level, sold him privately to Mike Gill ( many owners would rather euthanize a horse then sell it to Mike Gill), and watched the horse go down running his last race at the lowest level while snapping his leg off in the stretch. Hardly an acceptable end for a racehorse that brought millions into the wagering coffers! As for the vet that passed him pre-race inspection, maybe the horse was doped up (typical of Mile Gill), and didn’t exhibit signs of lameness or passed the horse knowing it was sore, and the stewards allowing the horse to run. His end was preventable, but nobody gave a damn. Unfortunately, there are many examples of Mighty Beau. The entire industry let him down as they do many others.

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  3. WELL put Gina Powell…..the TB, Stdb, & Quarter Horse Racing, “The industry needs serious government oversight OR a National Racing Commissioner who ensures that this and other things get accomplished.” As for the two you mention that were sent to….unlike “I’ll have Another” I understand that he is to be returned to the U.S. when no longer breeding, from Japan? As it should be for studs & mares bought from there or a clause they will NOT BE SLAUGHTERED!

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    1. Yes, IHA has the clause in his sales contract as do others that are sold overseas. This clause ensures their safe return, which is great. The biggest disgrace if the racing industry is their deliberate ignorance to NOT fund racehorse rescue groups. There are plenty of farms and people who are eager to rescue, but the funds are not there. Yet, they make billions per year off of racehorses and show total disregard for them after they are no longer profitable. This years 2012 BC made 47 MILLION in 2 days of wagering and not one dime (that I’m aware of) went to horse rescue groups. This is unacceptable and a disgrace!

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      1. Wow…made that kind of money & nothing set up for when their racing careers are over?? Unbelievable, but you know why…as long as there is the ‘disposal system’ THAT attitude will continue! However still a disgrace & it needs to be put out there for the public to know, that these horses CAN & DO go onto other things! The end of ‘their racing days’ are NOT A DEATH SENTENCE, just because horse slaughter happens in thsi country.

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        1. Yes, I suppose that we could extend that thought to encompass “disposable society,” where even people are now disposable – frightening thought. Back to the racehorses, the disposable mentality is supported by the “claiming” races. The claiming races are dumping grounds for sore horses who can no longer compete at upper levels. TB’s with back class are the most vulnerable. The most outstanding example of this is a racehorse called: “Mighty Beau.” “Mighty Beau,” a winner of almost 4 million for millionaire owners in California dumped him when he could no longer compete at stake level. A winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and many other stake races. His owners didn’t give a shit about him. His last race was run in a $5000 claimed where he snapped his leg off in the stretch and was euthanized. A friend of mine, who worked at the track, said he was so sore he was limping and the track vet passed him probably under pressure from track management knowing that he was a crowd pleaser. This example is a reflection on people who have no ethics or morals and an industry who supports people like this instead of protecting the horse. Mighty Beau paid the price that day and so do many others.

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    2. Agree Gina.

      Claiming races are the epitome of abuse and reckless abandon. The easy way to get rid of a horse that isn’t performing. Sell these poor creatures off to those who have no “real” money in the hopes they might make a buck or two off of them. Run them into the ground.

      A sad but true case of passing the buck.

      This is truly one of my pet peeves of the racing world. I have read so many horror stories about claiming races it is pitiful.It’s all a money game. How sick.

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      1. Gina, I looked up Mighty Beau, and although your arguments have a lot of merit, the reason people don’t get taken seriously is they don’t have their facts straight. He was never in the breeders cup sprint and he made 646,000. Not anywhere near 4 million. Yes, he was a winner of stakes and had back class. He went through some helatious trainers to. We will be taken more seriously when our facts are correct. If you need to check facts you can always go to equibase and look up the horse that you are interested in. Their entire racing career can be seen.

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        1. I stand corrected, but he was in the Breeders Cup. Nevertheless, this does not preclude his ominous end to such a great racehorse and certainly $646,000 is more than enough to provide a deserved retirement. While no racehorse deserves this I still blame the owners who made all the money to allow Mighty Beau’s downfall. I’m well aware of Equibase, but I’m so busy finding homes for TB’s that facts can allude me. However, the facts are as follows: an amazing athlete made $645,000 for owners that dumped him when he could no longer compete at stake level 2) owners who were unethical and unresponsive for providing a home for the horse 3) an industry that allows TB’s to skip through the cracks 4) I’m told Mighty Beau was sour and hated going to the track he knew his time was done 5) People who squeeze the lemon dry resulting in MB paying the price with his life. Now if I have scrambled some of these facts then come forward and let us all know. I can still see his face on the front page of the Bloodhorse magazine in his white bridle and braided mane with his owners smiling in the winners circle. Where were they when he lost his last race?

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        2. I also want to say that this is a prime example of how claiming races can be a dumping ground for sore TB’s. If they did away with claiming races then I think it would make the game so much better. Regarding Equibase: it is not always accurate. They screwed up my stars and I think it is deliberate. Outspoken trainers are not welcome in the racing industry.

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  4. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but have witnessed the horror being on the front line of racehorse rescue. While no horse deserves this horrific end it is even harder to justify when a racehorse makes a ton of money only to be dumped by the very owner who profited from that horse. The two most prominent and successful racehorses in history ended up in the slaughterhouse: Excelsior and Ferdinand. I spoke to grooms who worked with Ferdinand and they said he had the biggest heart. He was willing to please anybody and ran his ass off for his owners. The racing industry makes BILLIONS every year off the bones, backs, tendons, and ligaments of these athletes and donates nothing or very little to horse rescue. I have advocated just 1% of profits be mandatory for horse rescue and nothing is ever done. The industry needs serious government oversight OR a National Racing Commissioner who ensures that this and other things get accomplished.

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  5. Please send a copy of the movie to some one who #1 CARES #2 CAN/WILL HELP. We’ve seen that the people in charge do not read our letters, do not heed our petitions, do not care about the tax payers’ wishes/demands. I’m not going to give up—but it sure is depressing. Shame on the BLM! Shame on Ken Salazar! Shame on Obama for allowing this massacre. I have begun to forward all these blogs to ASPCA, HSUS, IDA, Nat’l AcadScience,etc. Load up their inboxes….

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  6. I thank whoever made this movie. America needs to wake up about who is really running this country…..big business. In this situation its the ranchers who want the horses off the land so they can have cheap land to run their cattle. They all forget who is paying for all this: You and I, the taxpayers. We do not want our protected wild horses going to people like Tom Davis who are slaughtering them with the permission of our government. Shame on the BLM! Shame on Ken Salazar! Shame on Obama for allowing this massacre!

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  7. Every bit of exposure helps. The dirty little secrets of the BLM and the slaughter industry, when revealed, will sicken the American public and wake up some people to the sordid mess.
    Once seen – never forgotten

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