Governor joins lawmakers in betraying Kentucky’s horses by tagging them as livestock

FRANKFORT, KY — On March 27, 2017, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed SB 139 into law.

Previous to SB 139 becoming law, Kentucky horses were categorized as domestic animals and had the protections that go with it. Not that animal protection is a high priority in Kentucky. Kentucky is in the bottom five of the country in animal protection; some put it last.

SB 139 tags Kentucky horses as livestock, a clear demotion in status and entitlement to desperately needed protections. It is clear to see what a sad day March 27, 2017 was for the horses of Kentucky.

In every legislative step taken for SB 139 to become law in Kentucky not a single negative vote was cast against it despite hearing from constituents strongly opposed to it. Of course, lawmakers in Kentucky may tell you differently. If they do they are lying.

Kentucky lawmakers may also tell you this is simply a necessary step towards awarding tax breaks down the line to horse owners in Kentucky. Again, untrue. This could have been done without reducing horses to livestock.

These same Kentucky lawmakers may also tell you that this has nothing to do with horse slaughter yet SB 139 conveniently opens the door to it.

We think it is a fair statement to say that the horse industry in Kentucky cares only about the money they make off these horses’ backs and precious little about the horses themselves. We see no evidence to the contrary. Where were they in all of this? Backing SB 139? Or will they now conveniently say that Kentucky lawmakers ignored them too?

The timing is interesting with the Kentucky Derby weeks away when the eyes of the world will be on Kentucky. How will they all be viewing this?

Now according to Kentucky the “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” is run by a bunch of livestock.


•  Supporters of Kentucky SB 139 respond to their critics in Blood-Horse article, March 18, 2017 »

So happy together — Supporters of Kentucky State bill SB 139 reducing horses to livestock status, March 7, 2017 »

Kentucky legislature setting the stage for the slaughter of horses with SB 139, March 5, 2017 »




When a “scratched” racehorse is actually dead

Laurel Leaves with the text THE RACING DEAD in the center. Artwork by Vivian Grant Farrell for Tuesday's Horse.

Cross-posted from Horse Racing Wrongs

It’s hard to say how many fatal paddock fractures and “sudden cardiac events” occur just prior to scheduled races, for these deaths are typically buried as mere “vet scratches” on the official race charts.

Sometimes, though, insight comes from other sources, sources like California’s publicly-posted stewards minutes. In the last week of July, there were two such incidents:

July 29, 7-year-old Merry Moon, “deceased” prior to the 3rd at Los Alamitos

July 30, 3-year-old Tiz a Lucky One, “euthanized” prior to the 8th at Santa Rosa

Both, scratches on Equibase because, you know, dead horses can’t run.


• The Inevitability of Dead Racehorse
The Inevitability Of Dead Racehorses

• The Big Lie
The Big Lie

Marcus Armytage weighs in on use of the whip in horseracing

Whipping Racehorses. Getty Images.
When you smack a horse with a whip this sends a message to the flight or fight part of its brain and the horse either runs away from the hit – forwards – or it retaliates which, I imagine, is the rare horse that stops trying when hit. Either way, the whip is likely to increase the production of adrenalin, says Marcus Armytage. GETTY IMAGES.

In an article entitled, “Only talking horses can solve whip issue,” for The Telegraph Marcus Armytage weighs in on the use of the whip in horseracing.

The subheading states, “A ‘scientific’ study, funded by RSPCA Australia, has found that using a whip in the closing stages of a horse race is futile and does not make any difference to the outcome. What is it – April Fools day?”

Armytage states:

To put this viewpoint into perspective it is, perhaps, worth giving you some background to the form regarding the animal welfare lobby and their effects on Australian racing.

Four decades ago steeplechasing in Australia was probably third only to Britain and Ireland in size and importance, when horses like Crisp were commonplace.

Then the animal welfare lobby stepped in to have their say. The authorities caved in and made the jumps easier, which meant that the horses went much faster during the races with the unhappy consequence that more were killed and the sport effectively ate itself.

Jumping is now all but extinct Down Under and, last December, renewed calls were made for whips to be banned from use in races for two year-olds.

As far as I can gather, the theory behind the use of the whip in a race is to provide an external stimulus to make a horse go faster or, when tiring, to prevent it slowing down as quickly as it might.

When you smack a horse with a whip this sends a message to the flight or fight part of its brain and the horse either runs away from the hit – forwards – or it retaliates which, I imagine, is the rare horse that stops trying when hit. Either way, the whip is likely to increase the production of adrenalin.

That is why jockeys hit them behind the saddle and not across the head or, now, down the shoulder. When hit, the majority of horses give a bit more and the whip rules here have evolved accordingly.

That is why a jockey is expected to give a horse time to respond between hits and why after say 10 hits, an 11th can be regarded as pointless and punishable. A number of horses are not natural leaders and are also reluctant to pass the horse in front in the closing stages of a race without the flight stimulus.

Armytage goes on to cite Tony McCoy, who is well known for his aggressive riding style, as an expert on brandishing the whip noting McCoy has “persuaded well over 3,000 horses to pass the post first.”

To me it seems pretty obvious that if a racehorse is “lazy” and cannot be counted on to give his best, or has to be frightened into an adrenaline charged last gasp attempt to cross the finish line first, he either does not like racing, or is simply not good enough on the day. Horses are not machines, poor performance or slowing down, can be attributed to any number of things, including worst of all, injury. This immediately brings to mind Eight Belles, who was whipped past the winning post in the Kentucky Derby where she collapsed with two broken front legs and put down.

I say for the sake of the horses competing, let the horse who has the speed, stamina and courage win, without brutal or artificial incentives. And if you think the whipping of a tiring horse to scare him into running faster is not brutal, you need to check the dictionary and your compassion index.

I am not against jockeys carrying a whip. Some horses do need a reminder “tap” to get their minds back on the job when idling, or straighten them up when they start to hang. Whipping, however, is cruel, unfair and should be banned.

If horses could talk, how many would say, hey, if I slow down during the race, you have my permission to give me a right old thrashing?


Eton-educated Marcus Armytage won the Grand National in 1990 on Mr. Frisk to a threequarters of a length victory over Durham Edition in a time that beat Red Rum’s 1973 record by almost 14 seconds. Armytage got every ounce out of Mr Frisk on the run-in, using just hands and heels on his father’s advice.


Read “An Investigation of Racing Performance and Whip Use by Jockeys in Thoroughbred Races”