Nearly 500 Thoroughbred racehorses died in the U.S. in 2018. Here’s why:
Each spring in the United States, the nation’s swiftest Thoroughbreds compete in the Triple Crown, a hundred-year-old series of three races. Fans don large hats, and jovial crowds gather to watch the elegant animals sprint down the track. Despite its popularity, horse racing is a dangerous sport for both horse and jockey. In the U.S. in 2018, 493 Thoroughbred racehorses died, according to the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database.
Most of these deaths are the result of limb injuries, followed by respiratory, digestive, and multiorgan system disorders. In fact, most of the 23 horse deaths at the California racetrack Santa Anita Park in recent months were due to limb injuries.
Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, says the deaths may be because horse racing has become more competitive. Horses aren’t getting the rest they need, especially in temperate places like southern California, where the animals race year-round, he says.“It’s hard to keep an athlete absolutely at the top of their fitness 12 months out of the year.”
The unprecedented spate of fatalities at Santa Anita has also placed renewed focus on the safety of the sport. For instance, in March 2019, bipartisan U.S. lawmakers introduced a federal bill, the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019, that would create a uniform national standard for drug testing racehorses. The horse racing industry is currently regulated by states.
The Jockey Club, which works to improve Thoroughbred breeding and racing, supports the bill. “It’s time we joined the rest of the world in putting in place the best measures to protect the health and safety of our equine athletes,” the organization said in a statement.
While a broken leg is easily treatable for humans, it’s often a death sentence for horses. That’s because horses have so little soft tissue in their legs that the bone often tears through skin or cuts off circulation to the rest of the limb, leaving them prone to infection. In some severe cases, the bone shatters, making it nearly impossible to reassemble.
Even if the horse’s bone could be set, it wouldn’t be able to support weight for several weeks. If horses can’t distribute their weight relatively evenly, they risk laminitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of tissue inside the hoof. In general, if a horse can’t stand on all four legs on its own, it won’t survive and will be euthanized, Arthur says.
And when a horse falls, its jockey is often hurt, too. A 2013 analysis of about five years of California horse racing data showed 184 jockey injuries from 360 reported falls. Most of the falls occurred during races and were the result of a “catastrophic injury or sudden death of the horse,” the study found.
The drug controversy
Trainers have been accused of making an already risky situation worse by drugging horses with performance-enhancing substances or painkillers, animal welfare advocates say. Such drugs allow horses to run faster and power through the pain. For example, the drug furosemide, popularly known under the brand name Lasix, is a “performance-enhancing drug cloaked as a therapeutic medication,” according to a March report by the Jockey Club.
While it’s prescribed to treat bleeding in the lungs, the medication also causes urination and, consequently, weight loss. Lighter horses run faster, and Lasix has been shown to help horses run three to five lengths faster. The legality of each drug varies by state. (Read about the most detailed history of horse evolution ever assembled.)
While some animal activists feel such drugs should be banned, others in the horse racing industry believe better self-regulation is the answer. To that end, the proposed horse racing legislation would establish an independent, self-regulatory body—affiliated with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency—to regulate racehorse medication, list which substances are and are not permitted, and ban medications within 24 hours of racing.
Source: National Geographic
Carlos Godoy Nava, manager of the Packers of Carnes de Fresnillo SA de CV, informed that since 2014 they stopped exporting equine meat to the European market, because there were no regulations guaranteeing the origin of the animal, nor about the use of drugs.
Faced with this, the production of horse meat fell to 65 percent, so they requested the support of federal deputies to legislate rules for the transfer of animals and control of veterinary drugs, which is why it stopped the treaty.
He mentioned that although there are exports to Vietnam, Russia and Japan, what represented the European market was much more significant, which led the company to have a decline and had to lay off about 180 employees, so now They only have 100 workers.
Godoy Nava argued that "what is required to enter the market once again is to identify the traceability of animals, to guarantee from the origin of the animal to the final consumer, which is what worries the European market and the biggest thing to solve it is the control of veterinary medicines so that it is regulated and established a control that is credible and manageable at the national level and that guarantees the health of the products ".
He pointed out that it is not about taking care of only the health of Europeans, but that medicines should be controlled for the benefit of all those who consume meat.
In view of this situation, the federal deputy Eduardo Ron Ramos, who is president of the Livestock Commission, together with legislators Mirna Maldonado Tapia, Edith García and María Luisa Veloz Mayor, visited the facilities of the Fresnillo meat packer in order to establish work tables and take them as a solution through initiatives, to help not only this company, but the entire national meat industry.
Ron Ramos mentioned that the Livestock Commission of the Chamber of Deputies aims to give results to these issues, but emphasized that they can not be immediate, since projects and strategic points will hardly be worked on, that is, they will look for the solution so that they can become initiatives that support entrepreneurs.
He explained that the problems to stop exporting nothing have to do with the quality of the product or companies, if not that between the agreements of the governments were not fulfilled the regulations that established in the market of Europe and those that Mexico has, because They did not agree, so they decided to close the doors to Mexico to export horse meat.
The federal deputy president of the Livestock Commission emphasized that, although they barely investigate the real problems that exist in the export of horse meat, as a legislator has two options: establish initiatives and points of agreement, in addition to the management in the matter, so he asked for patience to this sector.
Source: NTR Zacatecas
While Mexico is unable to export horsemeat to the EU, they continue to export to other countries.
Many of the horses slaughtered for human consumption in Mexico come from the United States.
TAKE ACTION to help stop the live-export of American horses intended to be slaughtered >>
coalition urges congress to reject the "path forward" 10 years to aml plan for wild horses and burros
Today, a broad coalition of stakeholders, organizations, and businesses sent a letter to the U.S. Congress in strong opposition to a dangerous and unworkable proposal that threatens our iconic American wild horses. The "Path Forward" 10 Years to AML proposal, a brainchild of The HSUS, ASPCA and Return to Freedom, working in concert with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, calls for the removal of at least 45,000 to 60,000 and potentially as many as 200,000 wild horses and burros from our federal lands over the next ten years, putting the horses at significant risk of slaughter and placing a burden on taxpayers for an outcome that is widely opposed by the public.
“This is terrible deal for wild horses. The unfunded 'plan' will put tens of thousands more wild horses in government holding, with their fate left to the whims of future appropriators,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director at the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Make no mistake: this could result in the eventual slaughter of tens of thousands of wild horses. The cattlemen’s lobby is the only winner, achieving the near extinction-level population of wild horses they have long sought."
“This ill-considered plan would remove tens of thousands of our iconic American wild horses from the range at a billion-dollar price-tag to the taxpayer over a decade,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The biggest beneficiary of this plan would not be horses, but the livestock industry, which will see the federal government remove wild horses so that more cattle can graze on our public lands.”
"In its current form, this plan would be disastrous for our wild herds,” said Ginger Kathrens, founder and executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “It provides for no meaningful accountability on the part of BLM to implement humane and reversible fertility control measures. This plan gives BLM the mandate it has always wanted to round up more than 50,000 of our wild horses, doubling the number in off-range holding at enormous cost to the American taxpayer. We fear that unless funds are allocated to support those horses in holding for the rest of their natural lives, we will eventually see them sold killed in slaughterhouses. Meanwhile, our wild herds will be even more decimated, suffering deterioration in health due to poor genetic variability. Bottom line, wild horses and burros will eventually disappear from the West altogether. We suspect this is exactly what some of the stakeholders presenting this plan want."
Rounding up horses and burros is a highly stressful and dangerous experience for these animals. Injuries and deaths are not uncommon, and many horses will be separated from their families. The plan places wild horses and burros at significant risk of slaughter. The proposal significantly increases the number of captive horses at federally run and financed facilities and will create a future fiscal crisis. If history repeats itself, this increase will provoke pro-slaughter lawmakers to call for mass slaughter and euthanasia as a matter of fiscal responsibility.
As a humane and responsible alternative, stakeholders are instead calling for a step up in BLM-conducted fertility control programs, which allows horses to be managed humanely on the range. Proposed by U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), fertility control will eliminate the need for mass roundups and removals and spare taxpayers the need to finance long-term care, feeding, and leasing of land.
Nearly 50 signors, including wild horse advocacy organizations, horse rescues, animal protection organizations, and horse-related businesses across the nation have banded together to defeat this egregious measure, urging legislators to reject the dangerous proposal:
GOP Senators, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both of Utah, want to strike a regulation barring federal rangeland officials from euthanizing wild horses and burros.
Lee and Romney co-signed a letter to the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies under the Committee on Appropriations. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska chairs the subcommittee while Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico serves as the ranking member.
“Western rangelands are in crisis. The current populations of wild horses and burros is devastating the land, negatively impacting other species living in the area, and prohibiting an effective multiple-use management of the land,” Lee and Romney wrote in a letter dated May 3, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forestry Service (USFS), two agencies under the Interior department, are tasked with managing increasingly overpopulated wild horses and burros on federal land. Horse and burro populations are roughly triple what experts say the land can support.
“Removing this rider would greatly serve the health of both these animals and the rangeland,” Lee and Romney wrote. “Left unaddressed, the problem will only get worse, to the detriment of the environment and at the expense of the American taxpayer.”
The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 directs BLM and USFS personnel to “remove excess animals from the range so as to achieve appropriate management levels.” The BLM and USFS typically put animals up for adoption or inject them with contraception drugs to control the population. Neither strategy has proven effective at blunting the growing overpopulation.
The federal agencies routinely round up hundreds of horses and burros to stick in federal corrals or place them with private ranches that are paid to care for the animals. The strategy has removed many animals from the land, but at an immense cost to taxpayers. The BLM spent $48 million, nearly 60 percent of its budget, on maintaining holding facilities in 2017.
Source: The Daily Caller
A bipartisan group of lawmakers pressured the Agriculture Department today over concerns that the Forest Service could sell dozens of wild horses it's holding at California's Modoc National Forest without first ensuring the purchased animals don't end up in foreign slaughterhouses. Congress has placed restrictions on what the Interior Department and its sub-agencies can do with the West's surplus of wild horses, but not USDA. Now, a group of 64 members of Congress is concerned that the Forest Service could begin the sale of as many as 165 wild horses without restrictions as early as this month.
"We are deeply troubled by this proposal as it represents a severe abdication of the government's responsibility to manage these federally-protected horses humanely," they wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen today.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) organized the letter-writing campaign. Lawmakers signing the letter include House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.). "The Forest Service's proposal would put wild horses at risk of being killed for food, and goes against California's existing law prohibiting the sale or transfer of horses for human consumption," the letter says.
It's not clear if the Forest Service intends to sell any of the wild horses rounded up and removed from the national forest last fall. A spokeswoman could not be reached for comment. About 250 horses that were rounded up last fall were transferred to newly built corrals — called the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals — on the Modoc site. The Forest Service has said it is considering selling horses that it can't adopt out, and doing so without restrictions on what the buyer is allowed to do with the horses.
These plans were revealed in court filings by Justice Department attorneys defending the Forest Service against a federal lawsuit by advocacy groups challenging last fall's roundup of wild horses and burros.DOJ attorneys argued in one filing, dated Dec. 20, 2018, that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 "expressly allows" the agency to sell unadopted animals without limitation.
For all practical purposes, that means "the purchaser does not have to certify the uses of the horses," according to the motion opposing a request by animal rights groups that the court issue an injunction against the sale of any of the rounded-up horses. A hearing on that preliminary injunction request before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is set for this week.
DOJ says in the motion that the Forest Service "would not knowingly sell a horse that goes to slaughter for human consumption." But if the horses cannot be adopted, it says, the service may have to resort to the sale without restrictions. Congress for years has added provisions to Interior Department appropriations bills that forbid the Bureau of Land Management from using euthanasia on healthy horses and burros, and limit its ability to sell animals without restrictions on their future use. But the appropriations language covers only Interior, and thus BLM; the Forest Service operates under the Department of Agriculture.Regardless, the letter signed by the 64 lawmakers says that the appropriations language makes the intent of Congress "abundantly clear."
"To our knowledge, the Forest Service has never attempted to sell wild horses under its authority without restrictions on slaughter," the letter says. "Rather, the agency has abided by the Interior appropriations language and Congress's clear position regarding the humane and appropriate management of federally-protected wild horses."
Source: E&E News by Scott Streater
If passed into federal law, The Safeguard American Food Exports Act would make it illegal to slaughter America's wild and domestic horses on U.S. soil or abroad. CLICK HERE to take action!
Divisions over federal policy on wild horses and burros have come into sharp focus in the last two weeks after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced a collaboration with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Return To Freedom, and pro-horse slaughter groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation to convince the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to add $50 million to the Bureau of Land Management’s budget for management of the equids.
Specifically, the groups have called for the roundup of 15,000 – 20,000 horses and burros annually for as many as ten years, and for placement of these horses in government-funded holding facilities, perhaps in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Utah (on top of the 50,000 horses already in holding facilities).
They’ve called for a step-up of “growth suppression programs,” specifically targeting the individual horses and burros remaining after gathers in order to make sterilization or fertility control more practical.
Every reputable animal protection group – including all animal groups on both sides of this debate – opposes the slaughter of wild horses, and also pushed for federal legislation to stop the slaughter of any domesticated or wild horses or burros. And I have no doubt that the program staffers at the HSUS and the ASPCA advocating for this plan have a deep concern for horses and burros. They deserve our respect for their passion for animals. In this case, however, I think they’ve made the wrong judgment and negotiated a bad deal that puts horses and burros at risk. And the absence of a perfect plan in the alternative doesn’t make their plan any more acceptable
The best and most rationale step forward is to use this year’s appropriations cycle to require BLM expand its contraception programs and fund that expansion. If BLM demonstrates an ability to apply the fertility control strategy in a far larger number of Herd Management Areas, then it’s time to talk about a broader plan for managing horses and burros given the presence of a more trusted and reliable government agency.
Oppose The Path Forward, 10 Years to AML plan
For now, though, the wild horse and burro community is right to balk at a plan to gather and remove 45,000 – 60,000 wild horses and burros in the next three years. Advocates should speak up and call their federal lawmakers (202-225-3121), urging them to oppose this dangerous plan and focus funding on the contraception as the centerpiece of any future, more comprehensive management plan.
Source: Drovers, by Wayne Pacelle