4th horse killed at Del Mar

Blinkered racehorse closeup. Photographer not specified.

Fox News reports:

DEL MAR, Calif. — A 3-year-old racehorse was euthanized after a training injury in Del Mar, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club confirmed Monday.

The 3-year-old filly, Bri Bri, suffered a serious pelvis injury, officials said. They did not immediately clarify when the injury occurred.

“Del Mar has implemented a series of safety and welfare reforms over the last several racing seasons, including the creation of an independent five-member panel to review all entries,” the club said in a statement.

Which means what exactly, we ask.

She was the 4th horse killed in during Del Mar’s summer season.

On July 29, a three-year old filly broke down during training after a leg injury. Two horses were killed July 18 in a freak accident when a two-year old threw his rider and collided head-on with a three-year old, also during a morning workout.

Omak Suicide Race — Murder on Horses

It has been called “The Deadliest Horse Race in the World”.

Each year in mid summer, a small town in Eastern Washington State, called Omak, proudly promotes an event named “The World Famous Suicide Race,” considered the marquee event at the four-day Omak Stampede rodeo.

Omak straddles the border of the Colville Reservation, home of almost every racer, horse owner, and trainer.

Town officials claim this event (created as a draw for the town’s annual rodeo) is a celebration of history and tradition. In reality, it’s murder on horses. The race seriously injures and kills horses.

Over a span of four days and nights, riders repeatedly run their horses off Suicide Hill with a 120-foot galloping start. At breakneck speed, the horses then meet the Okanogan River. Entry into the river is narrow, causing bottlenecks and horrendous multiple-horse spills. Horse and rider then face a treacherous and often panicked swim about the length of a football field to reach the other side. The final grueling sprint is a 500-foot uphill climb to the finish line.[1]

Always the second weekend in August, each race awards five points to the first-place finisher, four to the second, and so on; the overall winner clinches the King of the Hill title on Sunday.

FIRST LEG — DOWNHILL DEATH DROP

Anyone who has ever watched a Western movie will have noticed that when a horse is asked by his rider to carry him down a steep decline, even in hot pursuit, how carefully the horse proceeds, measuring every step.

After a galloping start in the Omak Suicide Race, horses are whipped to make them “charge” down “Suicide Hill” an almost complete vertical drop of approximately 225 feet at a 62 degree angle, much like a steep staircase.

Studies carried out regarding equine vision show that because of the position of the horse’s eyes, which are set wide apart on either side of the head, there is blind spot directly in front of the forehead. Researchers believe that this “blind field” is the width of the horse.[2]

This means when a horse is catapulted down a sharp decline such as “Suicide Hill” he cannot judge where to land his feet and will not realize where the ground is until it comes rushing up beneath him. Horses are also known to lose their footing and somersault head over heel down the hill.

Since he cannot see the horses ahead of him he may crash into them. Others trip over or collide with falling horses.

The numerous any injuries that occur in pile ups on Suicide Hill are the leading cause of death in the Omak Suicide Race. These include a broken leg, fractured knee, fractured pelvis, broken shoulder, and heart attacks from overexertion. It is also a mentally terrifying experience for the horse.

The above are not only expected in the Omak Suicide Race, but also heralded as part of the excitement.

Omak Suicide Race horses plunge into rivier. Image / Fark.
Omak Suicide Race horses plunge into rivier. Image / Fark.

SECOND LEG — THE SWIM

At the bottom of the downhill death dash, the horses who have survived the first leg are immediately faced with the rocky Okanogan River and a frenzied swim across it.

Horses who have already sustained injuries, panic or get caught up in the reins, and drown. Some horses land in the rocky waters sideways having lost their balance and direction, and in an attempt to right themselves so they can swim, wrench their necks and backs, sustaining further trauma.

Horses are not natural swimmers and tend to panic temporarily when they cannot immediately feel the ground beneath them.

When horses swim they will employ a trotting motion and “a breathing pattern characterized by brief inspiration and prolonged expiration.” The difficulty in breathing when swimming is probably due to the pressure applied to the chest and abdomen of the horse by the water and the fact that the horse does not have the rhythm of body and abdominal movements that serve to help the breathing process” when he is on land.

“[It] should be noted that swimming also results in relatively high blood pressures compared with galloping and that some horses have experienced nose bleeding after bout(s) of swimming. As such, swimming is not recommended for horses with respiratory disease and it is also contraindicated in horses with back injuries.”[3]

Because there is no support from the ground and there is little or no resistance from the water, the amount of energy required to move forward in the water is significantly greater than that required to move forward on land. It takes approximately four complete swimming strokes to cover the same distance as one galloping stride on land. Based on this approximately 500 yards is about equal to a one mile gallop.

As stated before, notwithstanding the physical dangers, the experience is mentally harrowing for the horse.

Horses whipped across deep waters in the Omak Suicide Race.
Horses whipped across deep waters in the Omak Suicide Race.

THIRD AND FINAL LEG — THE UPHILL SPRINT

Already terrified, exhausted and possibly injured, the horses face the third and final leg of the Omak Suicide Race which is a punishing and backbreaking uphill sprint.

When a horse’s gait quickens to a gallop, his breathing is linked to the rhythm of his hoof beats. During high-intensity exercise, this rhythmic breathing lowers oxygen intake, producing a buildup of lactic acid and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, causing fatigue and cramping, much like when a human athlete gets a “stitch.”

To bring the body back to normal, CO2 moves to the bloodstream and is expelled from the lungs. Lactic acid is neutralized in various organs, including muscles. With continuous overexertion, the recovery process is disturbed. In this situation, acid buildup, called acidosis, further reduces oxygen flow to the muscles, creating long-lasting fatigue — and [permanent] muscle damage.[4]

MENTAL PUNISHMENT

The Omak Suicide Race takes place in four heats over four days.

Like humans, horses are imprinted with every experience they have encountered since birth. They are highly sensitive, instinctual animals, and much like us, think about not only what they have been through but also about what they may be about to endure.

Horses have sharper and broader hearing ranges than humans. Loud noises are painful to a horse’s ears. Their sense of smell is also acute. Horses sense or “smell” the fear in other horses, which further perpetuates their own.

Their sensitivity to sound and smells is why they become hard to handle when they are subjected to surroundings and activities they are unaccustomed to and receiving conflicting messages from their senses. The tumult of such an occasion as the Omak Suicide Race must be an assault on their senses that is debilitating and petrifying.

MARKETING GIMMICK OR TRADITION?

First run in 1935, the Suicide Race was the brainchild of Claire Pentz, publicity chairman for the Stampede, after failing to attract big crowds with boxing, trained zebras and stock car racing.

Stampede organizers currently contend that the Suicide Race has roots in Native American tradition and claim it is a customary rite-of-passage, but as you just read, an Anglo conceived the race as a publicity stunt.

The race wasn’t the only thing “created” by white man; the very invention of a Colville Tribes unit is recent.[5]

The races that used to occur among Native tribes of the area were longer-distance, cross-country races on horses bred to thrive on the hard, rocky, desert terrain of Eastern Washington. This is not comparable to flinging a long-legged thoroughbred or quarter horse down a 62-degree slope in the dark of night.

A native rite-of-passage traditionally refers to a ritual or ceremony indicating the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Historically, Suicide Race rider’s ages range from 18 to well into the 30’s. Many have ridden in the race year after year seeking cash and popularity, not cultural fulfillment.[6]

DEATH COUNT

Animals 24-7 report that at least two horses died in the 2018 Omak Suicide race, bringing the known toll since 1983 to 25, “with many more suspected but undocumented”, and no record existing of injuries and deaths from the first “Suicide Race” in 1935 through 1982.[7]

IT JUST WON’T STOP

PeTA has run letter-writing campaigns. HSUS has documented it but unable to accomplish anything past that. That was dangerous enough.

In 1993, the Northwest’s PAWS, or Progressive Animal Welfare Society, tried a more robust tactic, filing a lawsuit that alleged organizers harm horses for profit, but a Superior Court judge threw out the case. In 1996, a PAWS member sued the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the rodeo for roughing him up when he videotaped a horse being euthanized; the suit settled for $64,500.[8]

From 2005 to 2009 The Horse Fund ran a campaign to end the Omak Suicide Race, initially focusing on its sponsors. When they went away, Omak got more. Our investigators were harassed, hotel rooms broken into and trashed. Mrs. Farrell received numerous death threats, all which were reported. Not a single law enforcement agency took it seriously — or took any action.

That was then. This is now. Social media has revolutionized advocacy. There have also been changes (for the better) in the law. We are prepared to take this on once again. And we will win — for the horses.

WHAT ABOUT TRADITION?

No caring society subjects another living being to such blatant cruelty and death in the name of culture or entertainment.

There comes a time when we as a people must move forward, and leave behind those acts and events unacceptable in a civilized society, regardless of how steeped in tradition. In this case the tradition so-called is manufactured tradition and means nothing to anyone at all.

CONCLUSION

Horses forced to take part in the Omak Stampede’s Suicide Race suffer enormous physical pain and suffering by way of broken bones, irreparable tendon damage from falls and collisions, and long-term muscle damage from overexertion. “Suicide horses” die from broken necks, strokes, heart attacks and gruesomely by drowning.

These horses do not participate willingly. It is not their intention to suffer. It is not their intention to die.

The Omak Suicide Race is murder on horses.

VIDEO (Mute / Lower Volume)

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[1] Omak Suicide Race at PAWS, https://www.paws.org/about/paws/history/omak/.
[2] New Insights into Horse Vision, Equine Veterinary Journal (1999) 31(5) 384-390, http://www.equinecentre.com.au/health_misc_vision.shtml.
[3] Horse Training Using Swimming and Heart Rates, http://www.equus-sport.com.
[4] When Champs Get Cramps, by Darek Gondor, http://www.allabouthorses.com.
[5] Seattle Met, https://www.seattlemet.com/articles/2017/7/17/the-kings-of-suicide-hill-inside-the-omak-stampede.
[6] See 1.
[7] Animals 24-7, https://www.animals24-7.org/2018/09/14/omak-suicide-race-2018-more-dead-horses-kill-the-messenger/.
[8] See 5.

Edited 8/10/2019 5:30 EST

Horse racing kills in Australia

Jockey tries to hold an Australian steady up who has a badly fractured foreleg.

From the Australian “Death Watch” report at the Horse Racing Kills website:

Caslon Quote Left BlackFor a one year period from 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses has collected data from the stewards reports from every state and territory in Australia, compiling a detailed report of the horses who have died in racing and the reasons why – something that is not made available to the public each year by the industry itself.”

The 12 month period of data collection ends on the Horse’s Birthday (August 1) and is released on the first day of Spring (September 1). This is also known as the racing year in Australia.

Their report shows that the total kills for the one year period was 119, or one dead racehorse every three days. 46 of the 119 were 2 yr olds.

It is our view that 2 year olds should not be raced, with good reason. Read on.

by JANE ALLIN

Racing Babies: Are Two-Year Olds Too Young?

Part 1:  Introduction
Part 2:  Stages of Bone Growth in the Horse
Part 3:  Effects of Training and Racing on the Immature Musculoskeletal System
Part 4:  What Racing People Say: Fact or Fiction?
Part 5:  The Verdict: Training Regiments – Too Much, Too Soon?

In the Introduction Allin writes:

Caslon Quote Left BlackMore than a sport, horse racing is a huge business where moneyed gentry spend their fortunes during yearling sales with the expectation that these horses begin to earn their keep at the tender age of two. It is indeed an unyielding situation in which horses are valued largely for the first three years of their life and wherein their bona fide value is ultimately established.

“Above all the investor’s main objective is to race 2-year olds in preparation for the celebrated 3-year old stakes races after which these adolescent horses will be retired to the breeding shed. It is well recognized that the modern Thoroughbred’s peak earning potential occurs at the age of three with, on average, diminishing return at the age of four and beyond.”

“The current owners want two-year-old racing and I think it’s a pity. I think it’s a pity because it certainly does cause the breakdown of a lot of two year olds.” — Percy Sykes, horse racing industry vet.

An Australian study on the rates of injuries that occur during the training and racing of 2-year olds revealed that 85% suffered at least one incident of injury or disease. See “Racing Babies”, Part 3 by Jane Allin.

• See all our Special Reports, especially those by Jane Allin, on The Horse Fund website »

Calgary Stampede kills third chuckwagon horse

The Calgary Stampede's chuckwagon race kills horse number 3.
The Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon race kills horse number 3.

VIDEO REPORT


How about these thoughts from an insider?

Keith Ward: “I am a former rodeo contestant, and still watch and attend the Stampede. I know the care taken in rodeo to prevent animal injury, and how well the bucking horses and stock are looked after in most cases. I won’t say all cases because the wild card in any of this is how professional the humans are. I have seen some idiots with hotshots poking cattle in the chutes, etc. But my experience is they are the exception, and any cowboy worth his salt will call them out on it.

“However, I find myself in agreement with a call to ban chuckwagon racing, and all horse racing, in fact. Too many young horses that are not fully developed yet, too many injuries or deaths. Too many discarded racehorses that won’t find a quality life after racing. Some do, but most don’t. After watching the wreck last night, Harden should be banned from the sport completely. My two cents.”

Source (Canada Yahoo News) »

The man who caused the crash, Chuck Harden, that killed one and injured three other horses, has been banned from the Stampede (The Globe and Mail) »