The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Friday, December 30, 2005

Old Friends Find Humane Retirement

Former movie critic for the Boston Globe Michael Blowen has founded a special place where thoroughbreds can run free...and not be retired to the slaughterhouse after their racing days are over.

Read about Old Friends Farm

(excerpt from a recent feature on Mr. Blowen by the Courier Journal, Louisville, KY)

"...Blowen was so smitten his first day at the track -- he made money -- that he began studying the Daily Racing Form. He became a regular
at Suffolk and every year would take a week off work and travel to Saratoga Racing Course, in New York, for opening week.
Eventually he decided that, if he wanted to improve his handicapping, he needed to learn about the horses themselves, their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses.
So, on a dreary day in February 1997, as snow and hail pelted Boston, Blowen walked into the bowels of Suffolk and asked trainer Carlos Figueroa, about whom Blowen had written a feature story, if he could work for him for free.
Yes, Figueroa said.
For a couple of years, Blowen awoke before dawn and rode the train to Suffolk, walking the horses and grooming them before heading to his job.
The experience, he said, made him a worse handicapper. He became emotionally attached to the horses and began betting from his heart, not his head. 'It was flesh and blood, not just about numbers anymore,' he said.
A career switch
Blowen also learned about the underworld of racing, where thoroughbreds were mistreated and often forced to race when they couldn't or shouldn't.
He saw hundreds of horses, no longer wanted or needed, loaded onto trailers and shipped off for slaughter. The deep guttural screams they made when being loaded -- seeming to know their fate, he believes -- still haunt him. 'It was a horrible sound,' he said.
In 1999, when the Globe announced it planned to reduce its work force, Blowen took a buyout, leaving the paper, as did his wife, Diane White, a columnist.
Blowen landed a job at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a charitable organization based in New Jersey. Founded in 1982, the foundation rescues horses and encourages people to adopt them.
The foundation runs The Secretariat Center adoption program at the Kentucky Horse Park and has a program at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, where inmates care for retired thoroughbreds.
Blowen moved to Kentucky in 2000, figuring the foundation needed to consolidate its efforts in thoroughbred country. He bought a house in Midway, across from Midway College, that overlooks a horse farm.
After 18 months at the foundation, he left, planning to finish a
book he started years earlier.
That never happened. Instead, he decided to rescue thoroughbreds.

Horse friends help
His farm, named for the 'Old Friends' photo book by equine photographer Barbara D. Livingston, is based at Hurstland, a breeding and boarding farm owned by Alfred Nuckols Jr., a fifth-generation horse farmer.
Three weeks after Blowen started Old Friends, news broke that Ferdinand had been slaughtered in Japan, sending ripples through the thoroughbred industry and grabbing headlines worldwide.
Old Friends operates solely on donations..."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Video from Habitat for Horses on Dallas Crown Plant

Here is a video you might be interested in about the Dallas Crown of the better known horse slaughter facilities in the country.
View it here

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rescued Mustang Takes 49-state Journey to Spread the Word
VERNON — When local farmer Wayne Vaughn went to check on his cattle Tuesday on Route 517, he noticed something unusual. A red pickup truck with Vermont license plates was riding alongside a woman on a horse.

Theresa Fassett, 26, was riding 15-year-old Keresan, a mustang she bought and trained 11 years ago. On Sept. 18, she and her 30-year-old boyfriend, Herman Spencer, started what they plan to be a 49-state journey to save wild mustangs.

In a bit of generosity that has kept the ride going so far, Vaughn offered the couple a place to stay for the night, plus a stall for Keresan.

The couple's goal is to educate people about federal legislation passed last year that permits the slaughter of wild mustangs 10 years old and older.

The law was part of a federal appropriations bill was passed in December 2004, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management's Web site. It lets the BLM sell mustangs to slaughterhouses, in order to control to the population.

When Fassett and Spencer heard about the law, they wanted to do something to change it.

"We tried to talk to the local papers," Spencer said Tuesday, "but we weren't having any luck."

That's when the couple decided to pack their pickup truck and ride the horse around the country. Since September, they have been to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Today, they continue their journey to Pennsylvania, where they plan to stay with a relative. Then they plan to ride southward, out of the cold.

"People weren't listening to us," Fassett said. "But Keresan gets noticed everywhere."

The couple plans to take the horse to every state, except Hawaii, in an effort to increase awareness about wild mustangs, hoping people will write to their lawmakers and have the law reversed.

Fassett purchased the mustang for $150 when she was 15 years old. The previous owner, she said, abused his horses and had them living in poor conditions.

Fassett and Spencer left Williamstown, Vt., with $60 and a full tank of gas. Since then, they have been relying on the generosity of strangers, such as Vaughn, to get by.

"I've really been amazed at the generosity of people so far," Spencer said.

"People have offered us a place to stay and have donated so much stuff to us."

The journey has been complicated, they said, as horses are not welcomed on all bridges and highways.

"We try to stick to back roads," Spencer said. "The safety of the horse and rider come first."

So far, Keresan has been ridden 389 miles. Fassett rides the horse for about 20 miles each day, with Spencer following in his pickup truck. They are trying increase the speed of the journey, since the cold weather is quickly approaching.

The couple said they plan to make the ride a two- or three-year journey, both because it raises awareness and gives them an opportunity to meet new people and see new places.

"If enough people know about this," Spencer said, "they will tell the government, 'No more.'"

Reunion TimeBy Tom Gallo
I just finished reading The Blood-Horse's article on ReRun's brilliant initiative to save retired horses from slaughter and reunite them with their original breeders..Most of us who breed horses get attached to them and don't think of them as simply a tradable commodity. The horses become part of our family and part of our farm's heritage. The horses are often given cute nicknames, and their racing careers are followed and their accomplishments celebrated. It is just like watching your kids grow up, leave home, and achieve on their own. After the fun and the excitement are over and these horses sometimes drop into the claiming ranks, the clock starts ticking and any race could be their last. It is then that a call from the current owner to the original breeder can make the difference in a horse's future and perhaps a well deserved happy retirement...Many of us would be willing and able to provide retirement care for the horses we've bred but lose track of them for one reason or another. ...A standardized process such as this would incorporate control at the initial registration of the horse, and I predict it would boost the numbers of successfully adopted horses by 40% to 50%.

Correspondence between Manes & Tails Organization and Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, the President of the American Veterinary Association

Correspondence between Manes & Tails Organization and Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, the President of the American Veterinary Association is provided here. As Dr. Beaver is responsible for AVMA policy decisions regarding the slaughter of equines, she has been challenged on the use of the 'captive bolt' as a humane form of equine euthanasia. The captive bolt is not intended to be a form of euthanasia, and it is not. It does not kill the horse; it merely makes it safer for slaughterhouse workers when processing panicked and thrashing horses and donkeys, and speeds up the production line. Equids must be be butchered while their hearts are still pumping as if they were dead, their flesh would be useless as a commodity.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Make Your Voice Known...

Urge your senators to end horse slaughter by signing the ASPCA-endorsed petition.