Little Did We Know

Just a few weeks ago many people were celebrating because of a horse named American Pharoah. The first Triple Crown winner in 37 years brought wealth and fame to his owner, as well as to many others who put their money on the three year old Thoroughbred colt to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. While it’s exciting to watch such a magnificent horse succeed, few of us realize there is a dark side to the world of horse-racing, one that goes beyond a horse simply losing at the finish line. No one talks about that dark side; no one wants to know what happens to the horse that doesn’t measure up, the one that can’t make it to the finish line because of a broken leg.

From January to the day of the Triple Crown win, 43 horses had died while racing or training in New York (home of the Belmont Stakes) alone. One had to be put down on the track just a few hours before American Pharoah made his historic run. No one will ever hear that horse’s name. No one will ever know what he might have accomplished if his racing career hadn’t been cut short on that early June day. Current breeding trends favor horses with skinnier legs; legs that aren’t meant to carry a 1,000 lb. animal and often give out under the stress. Bones snap and the horse goes down and usually that is the end. A sad finish to what might have been a hopeful day.

Do we ever wonder what happens to the horses that are too slow? Who are injured but not seriously enough to be put down, but are no longer able to race and who are not worthy of breeding? The truth is thousands of Thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter in Mexico and Canada every year because they are worth more dead than alive. That is a truly sad fact, but it is one we don’t read about in the newspapers. It is the terrible secret the racing industry would rather we not know. It is why I didn’t feel too excited about hearing of the Triple Crown win, because you have to wonder if in a few years, his racing career over and if he hasn’t produced any other champions, where will American Pharoah be?

Some dates to put on your calendar this summer:

Saturday, June 27th, the Humane Society will hold their 5k Run/Walk in downtown St. Joseph. Registration is at 8:00 am at the Silver Beach Center (adults $25.00, children and students $10.00, family $65.00) with the run starting at 9. There will be free carousel rides as well as water and granola snack provided.

Animal Aid’s annual Mutt March is set for Saturday, August 22nd, 11am-2pm at Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph. This year’s march has a medieval theme with costume contests for people and dogs alike. There is a $10.00 registration fee. Please visit to register.

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4 Comments on “Little Did We Know”

  1. melissakeir Says:

    It is a sad testament to the way animals are treated. China recently had a day where they ate 10,000 dogs in a dog meat fest. We have people who abuse animals for sport and people who let their animals run wild because they can’t care for them. We need to do better for our pets. They didn’t ask for this lifestyle. We did. Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. It’s so hard to find out the terrible things people do to animals. And you’re so right, they didn’t ask for it. Thanks for your comments, Melissa.

  3. margohoornstra Says:

    People can be so very cruel. Nice to know some others, like you Lucy, stick up for them.

  4. I’m not sure how any of this can be changed but if people are at least made more aware, maybe someday it will happen.

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