Horses deserve to have rescue farms, not sent to slaughter pens

To the Editor:

My name is Emma Armstrong, and I am a grade 7 student at Hollis Brookline Middle School. I am sending this email to raise awareness towards the mystery of what happens to racehorses that reach the end of their careers, or simply horses that just don’t get the love and affection they deserve. They will generally be loaded onto a cramped trailer and shipped to a slaughterhouse.

I care strongly for this topic because I have three horses that live at our farm in Hollis, and I cannot bear to think of them ending their lives in the horrid slaughter pen. I understand that your Journal information is well trusted and respected throughout the community, so this is why I am writing to your Journal. The town of Hollis, with all of its horse farms and large portions of land, should consider opening up more rescue and rehabilitation farms for horses and donkeys (equines) in need of care.

"It is well-documented that many racehorses end up at slaughter auctions within a week of their last race, despite the fact that many tracks across the country have policies opposing this practice," explained Nancy Perry, the senior vice president of the ASPCA governmental relations (Feldman, Emily. "Life After Racing: From Stud to Slaughter").

When many of the kill markets where the meat was sold shut down with the slaughterhouses throughout the U.S. in 2007, overseas/foreign markets still continued to run, like in Japan (Feldman). This meant that horses were shipped across the world to meet their end.

It was documented by data from the ASPCA that more than 166,000 American horses were shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered in the last year (Feldman). Slaughter is an inhumane and cruel process that in my opinion should be banned throughout the whole world.

Thoroughbreds are extremely athletic and agile horses, which makes them great at racing, but this breed can also be retrained to be valued dressage horses, therapy horses or breathtaking jumpers well into their teens. They could also work as cow horses (herding cows) or learn to barrel race (Feldman). Some thoroughbreds that raced in previous years are happily carrying around older ladies at fox hunts, but others might be galloping around 4-foot-jump courses like machines.

If you ever do adopt a racehorse, you will have to consider their state of condition to determine what kind of work they should be doing. Some need the time to recover from the track, when others can start training right away. Sometimes, if necessary, the racehorse will just be retired out to a pasture to spend its days romping and grazing, while accompanying another horse, or just become a trail riding pony (Pittman, Steuart. "Dodon Farm: Retraining the Retired Racehorse").

People will often hear about the thoroughbreds in the Olympics or the ones that usually take top placings in equestrian events (Pittman). Steuart Pittman, the head trainer of Dodon Farm in Maryland, even states, "I have never met a trainer that doesn’t love working with thoroughbreds" (quoted in Pittman).

Many people that I know who have adopted a retired racehorse tell me that the thoroughbred has a spirit you can’t get from any other horse.

As you can see, thoroughbreds are not only entertainment, they can become a friend and a cherished partner to a rider that dedicates time to them. If we start opening up more rescue farms, then thoroughbreds who only knew life with a starting gate and a finish line could get a chance to live a second life.

Thank you so much for all your time and consideration.

Emma Armstrong

Hollis