Monthly Archives: June 2012

I’ll Have Another: Pasture or Plate?

ImageAccording to the Daily Racing Forum, I’ll Have Another is going to be retired from racing and used as a stallion. I’m sure all the fans who watched him win the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness wish him a safe and happy retirement. He is a magnificent horse and he deserves the best.

He was scratched from the Belmont due to a tendon injury–a wise move by his trainer, Doug O’Neill. I would rather see the horse able to retire in good health instead of having a breakdown on the track because he was pushed too hard. A life of rest and relaxation with plenty of mares to keep him busy. Sounds perfect?

Well, maybe not… I’ll Have Another was bought by Japanese stable and will be leaving for Japan sometime in August after going through the proper quarantine procedures. Once he’s half way across the world, it will be hard for anyone to keep track of him and make certain that he is safe. A career as a breeding stallion in Japan had a tragic end for another Kentucky Derby winner.

Image Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby and the 1987 Breeder’s Cup was also shipped off to Japan for a new career as a stud. However, he was unsuccessful as a stallion and within a few years, he could not be found. When his former connections from the United States demanded to see the former champion, they were told that he had been “disposed of” meaning sent to a slaughterhouse in Japan sometime around September of 2002. His career earnings were over 3 million dollars and he had won two of the biggest races in the United States. In the end, none of that mattered. He was in a country where eating horse meat is part of the culture. If he was no longer useful alive, they could make use of his carcass. Unbelievable? Keep reading…

Another Kentucky Derby winner met a similar fate in Sweden. Exceller was retired to stud and moved from place to place until he ended up at a Swedish breeding farm. By this time, he was 24 years old and still in good health. Rumors began circulating that he was sterile and his owner shipped him off to a slaughterhouse. His career earnings were over 1 million dollars and he won several prestigious races before his retirement. None of that mattered in the end. His last owner thought he was no longer useful and sent him off. That is hardly the ending one expects for a champion.

Both of those horses have organizations bearing their names that now work to rescue horses and educate the public about the dangers of the horse slaughter pipeline and the cruelty of the slaughterhouses.

The Exceller Fund can be found at

Friends of Ferdinand can be found at

Image I sincerely hope that I’ll Have Another will enjoy a happy and peaceful retirement. He has earned it. Still, I and many others would feel safer if he was not living out his life in a country where horses are regarded as food when they have outlived their u$efullne$$ to their owners.


Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


A Rescuer’s Heart

People who don’t do animal rescue often have a hard time understanding those of us who spend long hours and sleepless nights working to help animals. We don’t make money. In fact, we usually spend most of the money we have. We don’t get lots of attention and on the rare occasion when the media does turn up, they frequently lump us all into the same category; crazy animal right activists. We usually spend more time with the animals than we do with other people. We get bitten, kicked, scratched, slimed, trampled, etc. We see things that would cause a normal person to have a nervous breakdown; slaughterhouses, abuse, cruelty, and animals with such horrific injuries that it is amazing that they are able to go on living. It takes a strong stomach, nerves of steel, and an unbreakable heart.

You don’t do this for headlines. You don’t do it to become famous and have people follow you. You do it to help the animals because they cannot help themselves. They cannot even ask for help. You do to give a voice to those who suffer in silence. They trust us with their lives and too many people abuse and betray that trust.

If they come to you broken and injured, you heal them. Some injuries are physical but others are mental. An abused animal may take a very long time to trust anyone. Those that have been severely abused may never trust anyone again. It is much harder to save one that has learned to hate people. It can be done but it takes a great deal of time and infinite patience. If they refuse to trust you, treating their injuries becomes much more difficult. They don’t understand that you’re trying to help them and they will fight you every step of the way. If you’re able to save them and keep them alive, that is the happy ending. Seeing them them able to have a life is the reward and they are grateful in ways that cannot be explained to anyone who has not been through it. If you have saved an animal’s life, they will do things for you that they would not do for anyone else.

Recovery may take months or even years. Hours spent nursing the animal back to health with veterinary care, physical therapy, food, shelter, and anything else that they need to help them heal. Some of them may fully recover and be able to start over again. Depending on their injuries, others may recover enough to enjoy retirement but they are never the same. They are left with scars or permanent damage that prevents them from jumping, running, or doing what they did before they were hurt. You try to find something else that they can do even if it’s something as simple as being a companion for another horse.

Animals may need continued help from their rescuers and in some cases, from their own kind. They can help each other in ways that we could never help them. If a person is blind, they may be helped by a guide dog. First the dog has to be trained to help the person and then the blind person learns how to handle the dog. So how do you help guide a blind horse? Another horse answered that question for me. While I was trying to figure out what to do, Amigo solved the problem by staying next to Sylvester, the blind horse. He guided him through the pasture. He protected him from the bigger horses. They became inseparable. Amigo guarding Sylvester (blind horse in blue halter)Amigo knew Sylvester couldn’t see so he became his eyes and Sylvester followed him. Blind faith. He did what he needed to do. No questions asked. No training required.

There are some wounds that cannot be healed. That is the darker side of rescue. You spend time healing one injury and another one develops in the mean time. When the first one has healed, the second one emerges. Sometimes you cannot save their lives. The best you can offer them is a peaceful death. Humane euthanasia instead of a slaughterhouse. If they are in terrible pain with no hope of recovery, the only thing you can do is help them cross the Rainbow Bridge. Instead of giving them a new life, you settle for ending their suffering. It is bittersweet and heartbreaking but you let them go. Your heart shatters into a thousand pieces and you swear to yourself that you will never do another rescue again. The pain seems too great but the moment you see another animal that needs help you will do everything all over again.

Rest In Peace

Crippled at the racetrack, dumped into a kill pen, and rescued too late. He had foundered by the time he was pulled from the auction. Instead of a brutal death in a slaughterhouse, he was humanely euthanized in the horse country of Virginia where he spent his last moments surrounded by people who loved him. He deserved a long life. The best anyone could do was to give him a peaceful death.

You want to save all of them but no one can do it. There are so many and they are everywhere. The best way to help them is for rescuers to join together and network. Everyone does what they can. Some people work with the animals. Others donate money or provide supplies. You can volunteer your time. You can share their stories and network for them. Everyone can do something. However, certain things are NOT helpful…

Rescue wars are pointless and counter-productive. Once the mudslinging begins, everyone looks bad and it takes attention away from the animals. If you don’t want to work with a certain person, then you shouldn’t. If you don’t want to work with a particular group, leave and find another or work on your own. There is no room for big egos in rescue. Glory seekers need not apply.


Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized