5.05.2008

Snap's thoughts on the Eight Belles tragedy

****Public Equine Service Announcement- Not Feline related at all**********

OK, so I know I'm not allowed on the blogs much because yes I have large hooves and I can make a mess in the house. However, Kaze alerted me to the fact that Captain Jack & Sir Dante's mom had a lovely post about the filly, Eight Belles. I'm not here to debate, just give the perspective of a former race horse. A perspective as the boss mare of many future race horses.

Eight Belles was kind of my cousinish. Well, we have similar breeding at least, both having Mr. Prospector as a Grandhorse and having Native Dancer on both sides. Plus she's from one of our home race tracks; Delaware. This is where some of my minion horses go when they go test if they'd like to be racehorses. I'm sure some of my past minions rubbed shoulders with her on races.

Don't get me wrong, I HATED being a race horse. I sucked at it. I ran in 4 races and I failed to finish anywhere near respectable. In fact, I was last in most races. Its not my "thing". My thing is to be totally spoiled and barely asked to do anything beneath me. I'm a queen of course. But some horses- some horses LOVE running in races. These are the horses who make it to the Kentucky Derby. Their passion to run makes them spectacular.

My barn is filled with racehorses-to-be. The Woman-In Charge is amazing. You know how humans generally fail animal needs? Not her, she rocks, she knows when we need a half-flake more hay, an extra water bucket, or when we need to stay in the barn in the winter. We trust her completely because she's proven herself time and time again. She is the woman who teaches the young horses how to be ridden and accept the things in life that will come at them when they try to be racehorses. Our babies (I say mine because I teach them older mare stuff in the field like how to avoid being captured hehe) are happy and LOVED. Truly loved. The vet care is incredible and their owners and trainers care for these horses and know their personalities and likes/dislikes. Training progresses at the speed of the filly or colt, not on an arbitrary schedule.

I would like to share a story of one horse in our barn and his love of racing. "Jack" as we called him was 3 years old when he was shipped out to our barn from California. The Woman-in-Charge took him in to see if she could get him re-trained to be a pleasure horse which is what I do (and I LOVE it!!). Jack did not want this. Jack spent a winter out in the field to "chill out", he was ridden lightly, he was ridden out in fields, he was given every chance to "calm down" and find joy in being ridden. Even my Woman (Kaze's Lap Lady) rode him. Scared the poop out of her because Jack only wanted to RUN. Anything else was not cool with him, he just was an unhappy horse. So Aunt G finally suggested maybe Jack should run again. He was put back into training at 5 years old and do you know what? Jack was laughed at and ridiculed for trying to get back into the sport. He showed them- he won his first race. Yup, Jack loves to run. This isn't even an old story- this race happened 2 weeks ago.

Please don't try to debate me, I'm a chestnut thoroughbred mare and I'm ALWAYS right. Just ask my human. My intent here was to give hope to those who feel that racehorses are not well cared for. This is true in some truly sad circumstances but the vast majority of humans who take care of us deeply care about our welfare. Sure things need to change in racing but totally stopping racing would not fix anything. We are fragile yet strong animals who are very well loved by the humans around us. Of course there are exceptions (as there are with kitties too) but the majority of race people have a good heart. As for race horses- we let you know pretty fast if we like our jobs or not- hence the reason I got this sweet gig with my Woman and Jack is back at the track.

************Now back to your regularly scheduled Feline Topics***************

13 comments:

The Meezers said...

Snap, thank you for your perspective. As in humans, some love to run and others (like our lazy slug of a mother) don't. What happened to Eight Belles was very tragic and a reason that mommy doesn't like to watch horse races. we cried and cried when we heard about it.

PB & J said...

That was an excellent post Snap! It seems that there are well cared for and poorly cared for creatures everywhere - kitties, horses, doggies and more.

We figured that if Eight Belles loved to run then she went over the bridge after doing what she loved (and doing it spectacularly) - it's all any creature could ask for.

Cheysuli and gemini said...

That was a wonderful post Snap. I think you should blog more often--a lap top can be taken to the barn--really.

Millie said...

Thank you for your perpective, Snap. Mom and I watched Eight Belles run, rooting for her all the way. What happened was tragic, but like PB & J said, she was doing what she loved.

It doesn't make it any easier, though.

I agree with Cheysuli & Gemini, you should post more often!

Captain Jack and Sir Dante said...

Snap, you are truly a queen! Thank you so much for writing this. Mommy has been so upset and listening way too much to those who are saying that Eight Belles' trainer and owner are mourning her only for the loss of funds. Mommy finally decided that the difference between the people who are saying that and people like our humans is that our humans cared about Eight Belles BEFORE she was hurt so badly. Most of these other talking humans only cared about her AFTER her death. Again, thank you for this. We think you should definitely post more often and also vote that we find a horse sized laptop for you and put it in the barn for when you have something to say! Thank you, truly.

The Taylor CatSSSSS said...

Snap, thank you for your perspective. What happened to Eight Belles was very tragic.

You should post more often!

Angus Mhor said...

Thank you, Snap. I think it is hard to see a good horse go down, but, she was doing what she loved..our humans don't often get to choose to go that way, do they?

Derby said...

Snap, mum says 'thank you' for giving this a proper perspective. Some people don't understand that some horses love to run and race. It is what they love to do the best!

Purrs lovely lady horse!

Willow said...

Snap, this was a brilliant post. In our house, we don't know much about horses but you explained this all so well! I hope that you can post again!

Purrrrrrrrrs, Willow

Camie's Kitties said...

Snap, I know what you mean. Unfortunately, as a former racer myself, I know that some of us have the need for speed and some of us have the need for a "couch" so to speak. It is nice to know that the vast majority of horses are treated with love and respect. Greyhound racing is slowly approaching the high standards of horse racing.

Camie

Queen Snickers and Empress said...

What a great post Snap! It's always nice to see all sides. My momma has gone the near by track with my aunty a few times, not to bet, but to watch. She said its a beautiful sight! The power and grace! You can also tell, heck ya those horses WANT to be there and LOVE what they do. They can't wait to fly! ~Queen Snickers

Mr. Echo said...

Very level hedded. Truly conserned peeple are working hard to make life and meddasin bedder for horses.

Rossetti and Kirara said...

Thank you so much for your post, Snap. Our Momma has been very sad about the loss of such a game filly. She luvs horses and horse racing. (So much so that last time she went on vacation, she went to see Secretariat's old home, and she met the great John Henry as well). She even has a book about your ancestor, the Grey Ghost of Sagamore (Native Dancer for those who aren't horsie nerds like our Momma)
We'd all like to thank you for speaking out on behalf of all the thoroughbreds and their peoples helping them run for the love of running, not just the fame and monies involved. Now our Momma has more things to tell people she works with about racing when they make mean comments about the sport of kings.

We certainly hope our favorite Queen of Trash Can Treasure Hunting will let you blog from time to time!! Its a pleasure meeting you!