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Eight Belles’ Death Knell May 5, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Uncategorized.
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My mother rode horses when she was girl in high school and so did I.  Mine, however,  was a very brief foray into the equestrian world.  Clearly not for me.  From the first day the idea of putting in and then pulling something in an animal’s mouth to make it obey made me very uneasy.  I was 14 and had no idea about very much – but this just didn’t seem right.  Years later we had a Shetland pony, Cashew, when my siblings were kids.  He threw people.  I never said a word (I was an adult by then) but I secretly admired and respected him for his unwillingness to become a broken fool.  My brother now owns a racehorse that lives a quiet life in a safe home with lots of freedom to be just a horse.  He rescued her.  I love him for that.


It is hard to reconcile a horse running fine and free with being broken and bridled for the needs of men.  It is even more disturbing when it serves no purpose other than spectator sport and its life partner greed.  I don’t think horses like it.  I don’t imagine they believe – as some would like to us think- that they are doing something majestic when they Run for the Roses or go to Royal Ascot.  I think – given a choice – they would rather run free and allow their foals to do the same.  I resent the conjecture of owners, trainers and racing fans that horses “like”  being driven to run on command and are forced – daily – to train for something that is so obviously not good for their health. I think this in the same way I don’t think Greyhounds “like”  chasing Swifty.  But it is easier to rescue a Greyhound than a horse and the stakes in dog racing are clearly less high end . 

There is something both fascinating and repugnant about horse races.  From the touts at the fence to the Royal Box at Ascot – the sport attracts extremes from the corner to the crown.  Yet it all boils down to the same issue – cruelty to animals who cannot protest or advocate for themselves.  When Eight Belles laid down to die on the turf at Churchill Downs she illustrated – in all its tragic proportions just how cruel racing is.  Her huge, tired body – raced to death on those beautiful, delicate legs – died for money and glory – not for herself but for the people who stole her life.


It is quite one thing for humans to ask their bodies to run and jump and perform to the extremes required by sport – they have the ability to stop when they decide to stop.  Animals do not have that choice.   Eight Belles stopped too and because did, there was no win yesterday.  There was only an ugly, unnecessary, public death of a beautiful creature.  We can be grateful perhaps that she was euthanized – had it been another time she would have been shot to put her out of her misery.  So the answer to the question; “they shoot horses, don’t they?” is yes, but it starts before they are born.

Eight Belles’ death should make us all stop and think about The Sport of Kings for what it really is.  Just an upscale blood sport that ennobles no one.   


NB – Sorry for the on and off run-on graphs.  This is a WordPress problem and they are trying to fix it. 


1. Carine Fabius - May 5, 2008

I agree about making horses, dogs or any other animals run for the fun of humans. What I don’t know is how to reconcile this feeling I have that eating meat, fish and chicken, wearing leather and other animal-related things we do is not all evil. Somewhere along the way, I think there is an interdependence somewhere that is cosmic and mysterious, and I’ll probably find out all about it after I’m dead.


2. Baroque - May 27, 2008

Baroque says : I absolutely agree with this !


3. Berry - May 28, 2008

Berry says : I absolutely agree with this !


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