Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making an Effort to Keep the Horses Safe (Many, Louisiana Horse Seizure)

Still teary-eyed from hearing about the experience my friend, Donna Keen, recently underwent, I felt that I needed to get the word out about the unhappy endings some horses face after life on the track. Plenty of rescue organizations – such as the Keens’ non-profit foundation, Remember Me Rescue – aid in saving these horses, but there are too many horses that go without being rescued. Donna’s experience over the second weekend of January dealt with horses that had gone too long without any help.
Trainer Bill young described this mare
as, "Not that bad,"
She will be coming to Remember Me.
Photo: Donna Keen
In Many, Louisiana, there was a reported 60-horse (though there were more) seizure for which Charles Ray Ford, a man in his mid-forties who was a Thoroughbred owner and breeder based in Many, has been arrested for. He is being charged with animal cruelty.
The Louisiana Horse Rescue Association directed a huge rescue effort alongside Remember Me and LSU’s Veterinary School’s Equine Response Team at the Many, Louisiana ranch. Upon their arrival, those helping the horses saw Thoroughbreds in horrific shape. They were badly malnourished, had terrible cases of diarrhea, had hair that was encrusted with dirt and waste, had sores covering their body, and were just in overall bad shape. There were also dogs, pigs, and goats on the premises.
More than twenty-five horses did not survive. Over fifty horses were removed from the premises and transferred to better care.
This mare will be up for
adoption after evaluation.
Photo: Donna Keen
Remember Me Rescue and other horse rescues will be taking care of these horses, rehabilitating them before rehoming them. Meanwhile, it costs about $450 per day to take care of these rescued horses. Any money donated will directly go to the horses that are in the care of the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and Remember Me Rescue.
Some of these horses involved in the seizure had recently run. Yet no one – except those who lived near the ranch – would know that these horses had ended up in such bad care. In a recent blog post in Horse Racing Nation’s Blogger Wars, it was addressed that Equibase tracks when a horse works out, races, and who its connections are as of its last start and that occasionally one can find information on However, Equibase does not chronicle private sales or where a horse is currently stabled. This information would have been useful in the case of the Many, Louisiana horse seizure. The horses could have been rescued sooner or possibly never would have ended up in the terrible situation they were in in the first place. Many lives could have been saved.
I applaud connections who allow racing fans to know where their stars, especially geldings, are going after their racing careers are over. For example, Funny Cide – the gelding who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) – lives out his days at the Kentucky Horse Park and it was announced that Mine That Bird – the gelding who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby – would retire to Double Eagle Ranch in New Mexico.
However, there are way too many horses whose disappearances go unnoticed. One that is dear to my heart is Littleshu, who is a full brother to my ex-racehorse, Dexter. The gray gelding made his last racing appearance in May of 2010, finishing last in a maiden claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs. There is no record of where he is now.
We as an industry need to step it up for the welfare of what makes horse racing the sport it is: the horses. Too many situations like the one in Many, Louisiana have happened or are happening. More databases need to record the current being and location of horses and connections should keep their horses’ information up-to-date on websites such as Pedigree Query. This could save the lives of many horses. And where would the sport be without horses? Nowhere.

To hear Charles Ford's story, click here.

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  1. You are so right! I sent a donation to Remember Me. It is so horrifying that those who do not love horses create messes that those of us who DO love them have to help clean up. And the horses always lose in the process.

  2. Remember Me Rescue is doing an excellent job, just wanted to add that Louisiana Horse Rescue LHRA also has around 45 of these horses and babies. If you find it in your heart and your pocketbook they will also need donations to support this massive care effort. I donated to both.

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