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Horses, Races and Racehorses

Buddy was a racehorse in Oklahoma before we found him in Maryland. He wasn't a big winner; he never actually won at all. As a result, he fast became one of thousands of horses in the United States "retired" from racing each year.

When a Triple Crown winner is retired, he is put out to stud. He is well cared for and enjoys a cushy life siring high-priced foals. For most racehorses, however, retirement means being sold cheap at auction, or euthanized, or sent to a slaughterhouse. Others are released in barren pastures, victims of often-fatal neglect.

Buddy, a sweet-natured slowpoke, was a lucky one. He was rescued after years spent abandoned in a field, where he deteriorated into an emaciated, parasite-ridden shadow of a horse, his hooves so ruined he could barely stand. My family took him in, and Buddy slowly grew to trust us. He was a walking scar; deep cuts from barbed wire circled his legs, his flanks were marked by spurs, a racing number would forever remain tattood in the soft flesh of his upper lip.

But Buddy's deepest wounds were most evident in his behavior -- he was terrified beyond consolation when anyone tried to ride him. The moment he felt human weight on his back, he broke out in frothy sweat; his eyes rolled, his legs shook, and he would succumb to panic. Though he ultimately became a gentle and affectionate animal on the ground, one who was safe and loved the remainder of his days, Buddy could never be ridden again. What he suffered as a colt took years off his life, and he died in his early twenties. Too young -- but two decades older than Eight Belles, the filly who was killed on Saturday at the Kentucky Derby.

I did not watch the Derby. I never watch races. When I heard what happened, I thought about Buddy and the terrible price so many horses pay for this high-stakes sport. And when I went looking for the gruesome details of the story, I knew what I'd find: all the familiar lines about how horses love to run, about how poignant it was to watch Eight Belles strive to finish the race, how heartbreaking this must be for the people who cared for her.

Eight Belles' trainer was quoted in yesterday's Sports section, noting that it was necessary to focus on business, but adding that "It's going to be very depressing for several days around here." (Several days: mourning period of the truly heartbroken.)

I guess that brief mourning period shouldn't be surprising. Horse racing is, after all, a business. A regular riding horse is broken around age three, when the animal is strong and mature enough to be properly trained. Racing horses are already at the peak of their careers by then, competing with underdeveloped and unprepared bodies, often with bones and joints that are already compromised and vulnerable. Hairline fractures, muddy racetracks, weaknesses from prior injuries: All are part of the reality of racing. The show goes on. There are crowds to entertain.

A horse in the wild runs in short bursts of speed -- to escape a threat, to play, to express joy or excitement. Nature never designed them to engage in long-distance marathons at breakneck speed, and a horse being whipped down the home stretch of a track is not an animal that would willingly run herself to death. It's all too convenient to attribute free will to a horse who dies for her efforts, but let's at least have the courage to call this exactly what it is. It is a delusion to suggest that horses race of their own desire -- to satisfy the noble longing of their wild hearts. It is a delusion fabricated by people and for people. It does no justice to the racehorse, and it provides no solace when a crumpled filly collapses past the finish line.

-- Caitlin Gibson

By Editor  |  May 6, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
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Next: Snake in the Grass


Ahh! Barely boodleskimmed before topic changed.

Al this topic yanking is weird.

I vote for continuing the stupid discussion; 'cos I'm on topic with that. And apparently I'll survive:

Posted by: DNA Girl | May 6, 2008 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Repost from last boodle (this pace is killing me, The Boss was never up at this hour):

The Audrey Landers 'Yellow Rose' caused a horrendously bad 80s flashback. Lots high teased hair and bright red rouge and leotards and legwarmers. It was Hunter Thompsonesque in its vividness.

I had vague memories of the Landers sisters as the originators of being famous for being famous long before the Hilton sisters were even a twinkle.

To refresh my memory I went to IMDB and saw that Audrey was Queen of the Guest Stars but had a little role in A Chorus Line. The only YouTube link of a clip from that with her doesn't have any sound but that's not the point.

She's the girl that sings "Dance 10, Looks 3" (the song that Weingarten gets the title wrong to). That song, by the way, was the absolute favorite showtune of my gay college roommate. He just loved it. Almost as much as his extended 7" dance mix Weather Girls EP. I was VERY slow in catching a clue.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Um, that came off as ungracious.
I appreciate the essay on horse racing. That is one 'sport' that creeps me out. Kinda like dog fighting, or any other 'sport' that resembles proxy war.

Posted by: DNA Girl | May 6, 2008 6:45 AM | Report abuse

G'morning all.

The pace of new kits makes one dizzy indeed. Amazing how much more energy these young women have, and the time to indulge the desire to write kits. They will get older one day, and kit writing will slow down. ;-)

Finally, primary day! The phone rang off the hook yesterday. We even got a call from Andy Griffith, and Mr. T wasn't here to take it!

Off to walk and vote...I go to see the twins at lunch, will check back in after that.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Then there is the rat race. Sitting in a chair all day in The air-conditioned cubicle farm is comfortable, but I think my body was originally designed to work long hours in the field.

Parts of me have made the adjustment though.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. What a lovely kit, and one I believe that was written by a true animal lover. That's great! Really good kit. Now if we could just get mankind to love his fellowman, what a wonderful world it would be, borrowing from the song a bit.

Martooni, Scotty, Mudge, where are you folks? Good morning to all, and have a great day.*waving*

Well, it is d-day. Time to go to the polls and cast that vote. Hopefully I'll know what I want by the time I get there. Just maybe the phone will stop ringing now. Slyness, if they only knew what a waste it is when they call my place. And you, Slyness, are going to spoil those babies.

I saw the g-girl yesterday for a little while. I asked her, if she got sent to the corner at school, and the answer was, yes. I said to her, where you talking? No, grandma, I was messing with my shoes. The reasons changed, the event does not.

I have two kids to tutor this afternoon, and I want to go back to my class. It seems I will have much to do this afternoon, so I'm going to start with voting, and move from there. Have a great day, folks.

Eugene Robinson gives us his take on "Idol", and he makes some valid points. I have never watched "Idol". He thinks the show is becoming more interesting, not because of the contestants, but because of Paula's behavior in the last show. And he also thinks the Presidential race on television is taking some of the program's viewers,meaning not as many people are watching as before. Perhaps "Idol" will go away. You think?


Posted by: cassandra s | May 6, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all! I'm glad that our NC (any Indiana boodlers?) boodlers will be left in peace after today. I am definitely not in the endless-campaign-is-good-for-the-Democrats camp.

Caitlin - great kit, very nicely done.

Really foggy and chilly here today. I do not want to go back to chilly. I want 80 and sunny. I think it's supposed to be nice later. Today I am pulling out all the pansies and planting all of the annuals we went wild buying this weekend. We bought some gorgeous dahlias, crimson and yellow. We've never planted them before. I hope they last, we'll see. Then we have our usual assortement of geraniums, verbena, impatiens and a few petunias for here there and everywhere. My back aches already!

Posted by: Kim | May 6, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, another beautiful here - just been a fantastic spring.

May have worked my cold out spent yesterday planting some new plants and working outside and feel better today.

Caitlan - very good kit.

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Excellent kit, Caitlin. One of my favorite books is Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley. In it she addresses a lot of the dark side of horse racing. It's very sad when an animal is treated as a comodity at the expense of its health. The almighty dollar rules all.

Beautiful day here. The trees are at that tiny leaf stage that is so pretty against the blue sky background. I've started tuning out whenever politics is mentioned. I am just so very tired of it all. And nothing Clinton has done or said lately has made me feel any kinder towards her.

Have a great day everyone.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | May 6, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Caitlin - beautiful kit. Hard to take issue with the underlying concept that we are exploiting these animals for our entertainment. No, it isn't dog fighting, but when looked at from the perspective you describe, it does seem ugly.

What I really like about the kit is that it doesn't end with a strident call for a boycott or something. I'm of the opinion that boycotts seldom work. What is needed, it seems to me, is some good old-fashioned government regulation. Not prohibition, but regulation. I think horse-raising can be made much more humane, but it isn't going to get there by itself.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Horse Racing. Of course.

BTW - 'nother problem with spell checking for Weingartian consideration. Just because a word is spelled correctly doesn't mean it is the right word.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Truly great kit!

I'm not sure how to say this without sounding officious, but your parents didn't just rescue Buddy. They passed that caring, by example, onto their family.

Posted by: dbG | May 6, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Flowers anyone:

I've been asked to join a knitting circle. Hanging out with all youse knitters, it was bound to happen. The circle supplies the yarn (making baby blankets for area hospitals), I just need to bring needles. Haven't a clue...?

More later if I can remember what else...

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

RD... my grandmother often used an expression--that sounds much better in Greek--that means "that's the way it's supposed to be."

"Mom... the soup is cold." "Son... your shirt is wrinkled."

"That's the way it's supposed to be."

My point? Horse racing, horse raising... the [very excellent] kit addresses both, doesn't it?

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Not necessairly the wrong word in the original, RDP, considering the degree of inbreeding that's obviously going on.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I linked to this back on the 4th, but here is Joel's classic Slate article on horse breeding and racing:

I was driving through Laurel on Sunday and the entrance to Laurel Park from US1 might as well be to a mobile home community. I also used to drive across Northern Parkway and Pimlico has a shabbiness that can hardly be called genteel or rustic. Ramshackle and fire-trap are the words that come to mind.

The sport of kings is in pretty bad shape in Maryland. Slots were supposed to be the savior of the industry, but that would be robbing Peter to pay Preakness.

I also heard second-hand that Brown Bomber, or whoever he is, is the only horse from the Derby bothering to come to Preakness. It seems weird to have a Triple Crown where everybody bails once they are out of the running.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Want to read this Kit, but I gotta run.


Posted by: bc | May 6, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Is there going to be a Weingarten chat today, or is he still loafing on that Post Hunt?

I cheated and ran his Beltway column through M$Word. Now it all falls together, RD.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Straight needles around size 10 (smaller numbers will mean a tighter knit, larger numbers mean a looser knit). Your personal preference comes into play- needles come in plastic, metal and a variety of woods. They also come in long and short versions. Pick what you find comfortable. If you go to craft stores you'll have more options, but Wal-Mart's craft section has a decent selection of metal needles.

Ha. This helps. A lot. think I can get needles at Target. the nearest WalMart is,, no idea, but defintately to far to walk to. Any starter pointers. 10, 12, 8, what? Long or short, just right?

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Comics...Heros...Was going to post a pic of my Nova doll (ok, an action figure, a colleague gave me) holding a cheeto in one hand, the other made into a tight fist. But stupid windows won't rec my camera USB connect.

Can't find an image online even remotely similar to my doll(AF). but there is this reincarnation:

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

g'morning boodle! Thought provoking kit, and I mean that in a very complimentary way. I agree with RD that regulation is necessary, and if the industry won't do it government should step in. Though my knowledge of NASCAR is very slight, I am aware that there are restrictions on the equipment that make the races a test of driving and preparation more than who can build the world's fastest car. I don't think horse racing would face any steeper decline in popularity than it already is if the horses were a bit slower but healthier. They are racing each other after all, not a clock.

Off now to "cabin cleaning" the pre fishing opener ritual of 90% of our fair city's population. Mr. F and I have some vacation rental property and it is about now that I question the many years of education that have brought me all the way back home to clean toilets.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 6, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Dear Caitlin -

I'm not sure how you can ascertain when or where Buddy's mistreatment took place, since you found him years after he raced. Fact is, he could have been mistreated at the track, after the track, or anywhere else. Unless of course Buddy is a talking horse, and told you where this all happened. Barbed wire and metal spurs are in particular not common accoutrements of race track training at all, which suggests to me that Buddy's post racing neglect is what most harmed him. And his racing tattoo, inside his lip, is not 'burned' into his skin but is inked with tattoo needles, and I kinda doubt that he was aware of it 45 minutes after it happened.

I ride a retired racehorse. She was a complete bust as a racehorse, trailing the water truck in her two starts. Then she was sold to someone who spotted her quiet demeanor and attractive build as very suitable for a riding horse. She's never known anything but kindness and pretty good to great care, and that was true for her as a racehorse and a riding horse. Your naive and simplistic post fails to capture the variety of horse experiences in racing and away from racing. At a time when completely unhorsey folks are blathering hysterically in the aftermath of Eight Belles' tragic death, such naiveté is extraordinarily unhelpful.

There are many shady practices in horse racing, but most of them do not happen at the elite levels, where horses are cared for painstakingly. Imaginative calls to the 'natural' horse are also pretty unhelpful and uninstructive, since the domestic horse as it exists now is not 'the natural' horse, but a creature of thousands of years of training and breeding. Thoroughbreds in particular do love to run and are extraordinarily competitive, and have been selectively bred for those traits. So, I would in fact argue that there's nothing unnatural for Eight Belles to have run to the point of shattering her legs.

There are practices and standards that should be better enforced in horse racing, and overbreeding that leads to horses being dumped in markets for slaughter is high on the list. But if you get rid of horse racing, thoroughbreds as we know them now could become much less common. And getting rid of racing is not going to end mistreatment of horses anymore than getting rid of dog tracks will get rid of the mistreatment of dogs.

Posted by: LKB | May 6, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Strange day for sports. NY Times has a story on Carl Hiaasen's golf book and the St. Petersburg Times has one on UF quarterback Tebow's foray into surgery.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 6, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm really surprised that DNA Girl missed this and Caitlin didn't mention it, as it's key to the Churchill Downs tragedy this past weekend--the breeding (DNA) of horses for speed.

Any surprise that Eight Belles and Barbaro are related? The Wall Street Journal's Jon Weinbach has done an excellent job in exploring this less-told side of the story:

The death of another high-profile horse after a Triple Crown race is raising concerns about questionable breeding practices and has some breeders and veterinarians demanding change in thoroughbred racing.

Eight Belles finished second in Saturday's Kentucky Derby and was euthanized by injection on the track after breaking both front ankles. The filly was the second recent Derby standout to suffer this fate, after Barbaro, the 2006 champion, had to be put down after suffering a leg injury at the 2006 Preakness Stakes.

Both horses were members of a prolific equine family that descends from the stallion Native Dancer, a champion from the 1950s whose bloodline is prized by breeders for producing precociously fast horses that excel at the Kentucky Derby -- a race restricted to 3-year-olds.

But just as Native Dancer's career was cut short by leg injuries, his descendants have shown the same fragile tendencies. If breeders and owners continue to tap this bloodline at the same rate, some say Saturday's grim spectacle is likely to be repeated.

"We are at a crisis state," said Larry Bramlage, a prominent equine orthopedic surgeon from Lexington, Ky., who inspected Eight Belles on the track at Churchill Downs after Saturday's race. "The soundness of the horses has completely gone out the window because we don't reward it anymore," he says. "Pretty soon we won't have animals that can go in more than one race."

Richard Porter, Eight Belles' owner, was unavailable for comment Sunday.

LL: And if Eight Belles' owner Rick Porter of Wilmington, Delaware and his Fox Hill Farm is on the Porter branch of our family tree...well, the temptation is to find him out, jump on his back, whip him down a dirt track at 45 m.p.h. and see how he holds up.

Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm has been interested in Thoroughbred horse racing since he was a child. His parents were avid fans and took him along on their frequent outings to Delaware Park. Porter's interest grew through his teen years and into adulthood. Working for his father in the family's Chevrolet dealership in Newark, Delaware, Porter would make his way out to Delaware Park as often as he could get a few hours away from the office. Founded by his grandfather in 1925 and passed on to his father in 1952, the dealership is now piloted by Porter's oldest son, Richard C. Porter III (Cory).

Fox Hill Farm was born in early 1994 when Porter was introduced to John Servis by a mutual friend, Joe Viviani, the general manager of Porter's Hyundai/Dodge dealership in Pleasantville, New Jersey. Servis and Porter got together and finalized a deal to claim some horses.

LL: What does Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson have to say of this filly fatality on his home turf (Abramson, the brother-in-law of my former teacher, Rabbi Robert Slosberg of Louisville)? Is there any morality that applies to the sport of kings?

Posted by: Loomis | May 6, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I only have one doll:

I bought the Barbie so that I could give my son a hard time about his Dino-transformers "doll". We spent the rest of the afternoon arguing over whose doll was tougher.

I guess I owe him at least one therapy session.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm throwing in one more graf from Weinbach just for the heck of it:

Native Dancer's bloodline is noted among breeders for its ability to transmit its strong racing traits through both sons and daughters. The last 14 Kentucky Derby winners, including this year's winner, Big Brown, are descendants of Native Dancer. The last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, is a relative, as is Cigar, the sport's all-time money leader, and Curlin, the world's richest current racehorse. All 20 thoroughbreds in Saturday's Kentucky Derby had Native Dancer in their pedigrees. Eight Belles had more of Native Dancer's DNA than nearly all the others. She was related to Native Dancer through three grandparents.

LL: Talk about endogamous--if horses could marry, that is!

Posted by: Loomis | May 6, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Bad day for Joel's home town--the University of Florida is cutting spending by $47 million this year and also will be cutting enrollments for the next several years, at a time when the number of prospective students is rising fast. Not long ago, the state was estimating that it needed to create about 10,000 new student slots per year, for five years.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 6, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Just got done listening to the link TBG provided, and now am sorry I asked. Mudge, you got a spare bullet, cause my brainpan could surely use one.

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

kb's comment in the last boodle got me all excited for a new Hiaasen book only to find out half-way down the article that it is A Golf Book.

There is a rule of thumb that the pretentiousness of a sports book is inversely proportional to the size of the ball. This makes any book on golf an order of magnitude more tedious than anything written about baseball. And that includes books by George Will.

Unless Hiaasen can break this trend (and if anyone can, it's him), I'm going to have to break my Hiaasen streak. Sorry.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

'morning all.
This is for a slightly different take on horses and men. (I've linked before to the first opinion.)
Simon Barnes wrote those two essays shortly after Best Mate, a much loved champion horse, literally killed herself on the job back in 05. He has 5 horses and writes most of the Times' opinion pieces on horse racing, eventing, hunting, etc. so this is from a horse lover's point of view. He's got a good piece on eventing at Badminton in today's edition of the Times BTW. Eventing is the horsey competition where the rider is as much at risk as the horses, I think there were 12 or 13 (human) deaths in competition in the past couple of years. .

Horse trivia: in the UK hunters are obstacle-jumping horses. Gun-bearing people wearing Elmer Fudd hats are stalkers.

People get overly sentimental with horses. When Congress last year outlawed horse slaughtering and closed the last 3 remaining horse slaughterhouses in the US it created a large horse exporting market. Horses exported for slaughtering in Canada may be the lucky ones, although the extra hundreds or thousands of miles are not really in the horses' best interest. Lest just say that Mexico has strikingly different standards.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 6, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I warned you all in the last boodle that an Audrey Landers video was better with no sound. And she's the talented one.

Her sister Judy's resume is even more checkered. I'm proud to say that I have never seen one of her movies. And I saw some **terrible** movies in the 80s. 'Young Doctors In Love', anyone?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Omni, start with the 9s or 10s. That is the standard size needle for the average joe yarn. Length can be anything that feels comfortable. I like short needles, myself.

Short often is easier to start with because there is less end to get in the way, but with a gents larger hands taking up more room on the needles, you will likely not find this an issue. For you, choose regular needles about 12 inches long.

Material can be many things. Bamboo and wood is nice, there are some made from milk fibres (just don't stick these in your mouth - they taste bad), but for my money a new knitter is going to like metal needles. There are some plastic that are decent, but generally, avoid plastic like a plague.

It might help you to think of knitting like a lever action. The fulcrum is where the 2 needles will cross as you work. If you are working with wool, there will be a nice stretch to the fulcrum and knitting will be easy. If you end up with a mostly acrylic yarn, you won't have the stretch at the critical flucrum point, and you will need to pull your yarn less tight. Beg them to let you use some yarn with wool. It simply is nicer.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. This Kit is both thoughtful and passionate, a nice combination. I see LKB took exception to the tone and general story, apparently finding it a slur on racing. As I read this, Caitlin never said all retired racehorses are ill-treated and in need of rescue. She related the story of Buddy, her family's retired racehorse, which was certainly ill-treated and happy to be rescued. She made the obvious point that this is true of some racehorses, with the larger implication that racing itself is not necessarily terribly concerned with the welfare of retired racehorses and they are essentially at the mercy of fate.

The claim that abolition (or by extension regulation) of racing will not stop the abuse of horses suffers from the weakness of all such claims. Of course it would not stop all abuse, but it will end the particular abuse of horses associated with the sport as it is currently practiced.

Certainly, to use LKB's analogy, abolition of dog fighting has not stopped abuse of dogs. It has, however, to a large extent stopped that particular (and particularly gruesome) form of abuse. It also and perhaps more importantly changed the way in which such abuse was perceived: dog fighting is no longer a popular sport, encouraged or even tolerated. It is instead a criminal subculture, and dog fighting is widely condemned in society when it is discovered.

I'm not suggesting that racing is criminal or should be abolished. I just note that the claim horses will be injured (or abused, if one goes that far) whether or not racing as an organized sport continues, is a very weak argument indeed and cannot be used as a justification for any current harmful practices.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 6, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Good point SD. There are only a few places in Canada that accept horses and IIRC, from what the horsey girl in my house says, one of those is scheduled to close.

You can shut down the slaughter houses but without adressing the source of the problem, nothing really changes. Closing slaughter houses just takes the end result out of your backyard. Classic nimby. The problem? Too many horses, not enough committed owners.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Just had some Marmite, the Brit version of Vegemite. Had to eat some black licorice, then some red, to get the taste out. But still remember. I'd rather eat caviar. and pay for it too. Right now I have some authentic Australian black licorice and a chocolate mint candy. All courtesy of an Aussie colleague. Am now missing Dreamer...

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt--that sounds like a good guess about Hiaasen and high-status small-ball.

(Disclaimer: I'm obviously not a member of Hiaasen's golf club. It may not be pretentious enough for Hiaason's sleazier characters, but it does feature the highest (artificial) hill in the county, exclusive of the landfill.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 6, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

SCC addressing

SCC fulcrum

There are probably others. It looks like it isn't going to be my day for spelling. I'm going to stop looking.

BTW, nice job Caitlin and Rachel. The boss is going to be very pleased / horrified at the high standard of your kits.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I didn't find the story to be so much a slur on racing as I found it to be a bit melodramatic, and she seemed convinced that her horse's terror of riding was directly a consequence of his handling at the track. There is just no way she can know this, however much she loves the horse.

I think that racing is entirely worth regulating better and scrutinizing, but moments like this in the press tend to lead to emotional reactions, not thoughtful solutions. Ms. Caitlin's post is of a piece with that tendency.

Posted by: LKB | May 6, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

It seems that the problem in horse racing is that it rewards just one trait -- speed over a specific distance. The Triple Crown has the good attribute that it involves races of different lengths, so that a Triple Crown winner must be talented for sprinting over differing distances. However, the horse has to survive all the way to the end in order to meet this criterion, and only a very few horses actually pull off the triple. The rest of the horses suffer the selective pressures of evolution -- i.e., death or lack of breeding success.

Regulate all you like, it won't help dramatically until the human rewards come from success achieved in multiple traits. There are equestrian competitions, of course, that require more than mere speed, but they don't dominate the public perception and presumably don't dominate the cash flow. If racing continues, the race itself needs some kind of redesign that requires a more versatile horse. One good thing in current rules is the requirement that a foal must be naturally bred. That compels a certain degree of sturdiness and natural viability that otherwise likely would be lost.

Horse racing, as it is practiced, should be allowed to die the natural death that appears to be approaching. Slot machines and casinos have nothing to do with horse racing -- horse racing just puts lipstick on the pig to make it look more respectable until the horse racing is eliminated, anyway, because it will diminish the profits from slot machines. If so-called 'horsey' people want racing to continue, then they should pay for it on their own nickel.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 6, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Slyness... I have to ask: for which candidate was Andy Griffith calling to support?

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Ivansmom.

I also didn't find Ms. Caitlin's piece overly-emotional, although I often think that emotional reactions can serve as catalyst for thoughtful solutions.

Posted by: dbG | May 6, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

CP, you around? Anywhere I can reach you about 2 via e-mail?

Posted by: dbG | May 6, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks dr. Searched Target online and it looks like all knitting needles are only available online, not in stores. Hmm. CP, can you help me out on a store convenient to Metro? Any other local knitters...?

The knitting circle is next Monday.

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

LKB, fair enough. I'd stay away from that dog analogy, though. I enjoyed your response to Caitlin, and appreciate your sharing your knowledge of racing from another perspective. However, your personal criticism of Caitlin's story appears to be based in part on an assumption with no basis in the Kit.

I agree the story goes for an emotional effect. However, neither you nor I, nor any other reader, can know what Caitlin and her family knew about Buddy's history. Clarly, from the story, they knew something. We know only what she chose to share with us. While this piece was written from a particular point of view for a particular effect, I do not believe it was "emotional" in the sense that it was dashed off in haste or without thought. As with most good writing, her sentences appear to be chosen to frame the intent of the piece.

LKB, Caitlin's family may well have a detailed knowledge of Buddy's history, and know exactly where in his past he became afraid of riders. They may not have. The fact that she didn't choose to share that knowledge, one way or another, in this piece means nothing. This appears to be an important point to you, and you might well have chosen to include it were you writing a piece such as this. However, you are merely assuming that the lack of information in the Kit means a lack of knowledge. You then criticize Caitlin for her reactions to the horse's behavior and condition based on knowledge you assume she lacks.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 6, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

took the punctuation quiz and it left off the 'ing', I'm merely a dash.

Hi exclamation point, you come here often?

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

No time to boodle today -- on top of everything else going on, DC woke up this morning and none of her clothes fit (she seems to grow an inch overnight every now and again). I gotta get her at least an outfit or two today.
This is a very thoughtful kit, and very thoughtful responses. Wish I could hang out and watch this continue to unfold. Can't. But it crossed my mind...Kevin Everett...there were no calls for an end to football. Dale Earnhart (sp?) died, and there wasn't a call for an end to NASCAR. Granted, we don't breed people for sports, but otherwise, how is this different? Does it come down to free will?

Posted by: LostInThought | May 6, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Boy, there were way too many words in that last post of mine. At least they were mostly of few syllables, but that is faint praise indeed. Ah, well, if I could make a point more elegantly with fewer words, I'd probably be RD Padouk.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 6, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, omni, it was only a figure of speech. I'm all outa ammo. Got a whopping big Rachel Ray kitchen knife you can use, though.

Hiaasen was on Steven Colbert's show last night (which will be rerun this evening at 8:30). Unfortunately, I nodded off, so can't report on it (and I'm not a golfer).

I thought Caitlin's piece was fine.

It appears there *will* be a Weingarten chat.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - your are too kind by far. I certainly didn't think my post last night was very concise. This is what happens when I drink celebratory Margs with the computer powered up.

Kids, let this be a warning.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

For what it's worth (not much), I would agree that Caitlin's piece has a fair amount of emotion in it. I see nothing whatever wrong with that; the very best writing always has an emotional element in it. It's why we read. Criticizing something for being "emotional" is just a kind of dodge when you can't find something else to harp about. And yes, it can (easily) be overdone and enter into the realm of pathos and bathos, although this piece certainly didn't. And in that case, the most one could say is not that it was "emotional" but "overly emotional."

Show me a piece of writing that doesn't have some of the author's feelings in it, and I'll show you a piece of dull, boring, most likely cliche-ridden writing.

One might also note this was an opinion piece, not a "straight news" story, and therefore is free to go wherever it wants to.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Is racing any more dangerous to horses than steeplechase or polo? I mentioned a few days ago that I watched a polo pony die on the field to little notice or concern. It seems to be pretty routine.

Once you go down the "any sport involving and animal is inherently cruel" path you end up holding a PETA sign in front of the sheep herding finals.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks guys, looks like this has sparked a bit of a debate here, and I do appreciate all the thoughtful comments. Let me clarify a little bit: I certainly do not say that ALL horses meet Buddy's fate (or worse), which is not true, just as it is inaccurate to state that all retired racehorses have great lives when they're done on the track. Obviously, there is a broad spectrum, much - but not all - of which has to do with where, how, and at what level the horse is raced. We do have knowledge of Buddy's history, and the only time Buddy had anyone on his back was when he was raced - he was never properly broken. So his terror of being ridden, whether one determines it to be justified or not, came from his experience on the track. As for the rest of his abuse - absolutely, it happened after his brief racing days had ended. But that is the point. Many of the horses that don't win are deemed unworthy of the price of upkeep, as Buddy was, and left to fend for themselves. Buddy suffered his near-fatal neglect at the hands of the same man who raced him. This abuse might not have taken place at the actual racetrack, but I think it still qualifies him as a casualty of the racing industry.

Buddy's experience does not represent that of all racehorses. But it represents enough, in my mind, to be worthy of attention.

Posted by: Caitlin Gibson | May 6, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I have some thoughts on the sport, business, risk, and ethics, but don't have the time to write at the moment.

But I will.


Posted by: bc | May 6, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "any sport involving an animal"

I'd blame the margaritas too, but I seem to be cold dead sober this morning.

And LiT made a point I was thinking of much more eloquently than I could have, so just put me down as a "me too" to the notion that plenty of human athletes die playing. I've always taken Jim Fixx as a cautionary example against trying to become too fit. As if I am in any danger of that.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The death toll in that cyclone is creeping ever upward, now over 22,000. Can you imagin what would have happened here if we'd lost 22,000 in Katrina?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

LiT, I don't know the specifics of the football and NASCAR cases you cite, but certainly both sports have increased significantly in safety equipment and regulation in response to injuries/deaths over the years. Based on the Magazine article from a number of weeks ago, I could argue that there are still some problems with football. But yes, I do think that part of it is about free will. The human participants choose their risk, at least to some degree.

Parallels with those sports also indicate that there are usually reasonable things to do to improve safety by changing accepted practices, rather than needing to abolish the sport entirely because of some troubling aspects. Increasing the age of the Triple Crown horses? Changing racing surfaces? Something about breeding, though I don't know what? The question is whether the people with the power in the sport are motivated to make such changes, instead of just reacting defensively that this is just the way it is.

Posted by: bia | May 6, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Caitlin. I thought your piece stood fine alone, and didn't need any clarification, but I always love to get what I think of as the backstory of a piece.

We love it when the Kitters show up on the Boodle. Please visit again - and don't think you have to be on-topic just because you wrote the Kit!

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 6, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

There seems to be hope for Metro yet...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

SCC Caitlin - sorry for spelling your name wrong.

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Sport, business, working, assistance, food, clothing, pest, pet. Our relationships with animals are complicated, and often emotional. Would anyone prefer that we be completely indifferent to Eight Belles' end? Who beyond the lunatic fringe would want to end the human/animal relationship completely?

I'd spend more time pondering this but Frostcat#1 is recovering from 2 surgeries in the last 45 days. I'm quickly becoming a lunatic myself, ready to make cat food from scratch and move heaven and earth to keep an 18 year old cat healthy and, dare I say, happy. My judgement is probably not to be trusted, but I do think humans who use animals for their own amusement or gain owe them a standard of care that doesn't involve early death.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 6, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

How are horses raced across the ponds? This guest blogger at the NYT has done his research:

The high-profile fatal breakdowns of Eight Belles, Barbaro and George Washington have prompted calls for change, along with plenty of comparisons to the sport in Europe, with varying degrees of accuracy. In the interest of clarity, I'd like to point out a few facts about racing across the pond. There are some similarities to U.S. racing: We do have racing all year long; the most lucrative purses are for 2- and 3-year-olds and horses here run about the same number of races as horses in America. The average horse in the U.K. started 6.3 times in 2006, according to the most recent statistics available from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. That is exactly the same average start for horses in the United States. Horses in France raced slightly less, with an average of 5.8 starts. In Hong Kong, the average number of starts was 7.8.

The big difference is when it comes to fatal accidents. In the United States, there are 1.5 fatal accidents for every 1,000 starts, according to an estimate from the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. In Britain, the rate is 0.65 per 1,000 starts, according to the Animal Health Trust, and in Hong Kong, where horses face the heaviest schedule, the rate is 0.35 percent, according to Hong Kong Jockey Club figures.

Of course, there are lies, dam lies and statistics. The numbers on breakdowns are hard to find, because racing professionals don't like to talk about these things -- the New Bolton number on U.S. fatalities is only an estimate. France and several other racing jurisdictions don't offer any official numbers on injuries, fatal or otherwise. But one thing is certain: The public will no longer allow the racing industry to shrug its collective shoulder and say it's just a part of the sport.

That leads to the next problem: What can be done? Critics have focused on four areas: Breeding for speed rather than soundness, safety of track surfaces, medication use and the age of the horse. There are certainly changes to be made in all of these areas that would reduce the accident rate.

LL: Continue to read about the use of steroids in horse racing...

Posted by: Loomis | May 6, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

If you like Billie Holiday, then you'll probably like this newcomer - Brit soul singer Adele: I've already listened to five of her YouTubes and love 'em all.

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

My post in under review, no time to write it again.

Have a good day everyone!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 6, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Very well done, Caitlin. I wish the media would bring to light the fact that these horses begin racing too young. I heard one newcaster say these injuries are not common. What?

Posted by: jmb | May 6, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Very well done, Caitlin. I wish the media would bring to light the fact that these horses begin racing too young. I heard one newcaster say these injuries are not common. What?

Posted by: jmb | May 6, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

SOMEone got a "Hints from Heloise" item into Weingarten... Sounded awfully familiar... ;-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to see the times and the diminishing returns of selective breeding. Secretariat (1973) still has the fastest time at the Kentucky Derby. Thhe winning time has become much more consistently close to 2 minutes, however.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 6, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

frosti, speaking of cooking for animals, my dogz highly recommend pressure-cooked whole chicken. Very tender meat, Cutter'll eat it on days when he'll eat nothing else. Emma's just along for the ride. Best wishes to the frostcats.

CP, I toad you!

Posted by: dbG | May 6, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Caitlin, this is a very effective, heartfelt kit. I commend you for your values and your ability to express them. LKB also has some good points, clearly expressed and respectfully submitted. Thanks to you both and to everybody else, too.

Here's my contribution for the day before I get back to work--an article in the New York Times about intelligence in animals, to wit: "If it's so great to be smart, why have most animals remained dumb?"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we got a plug from Weingarten. This was in the chat:

[chatter]: What does your PETA friend say about it?

Gene Weingarten: Oh, Bruce Friedrich despises horse racing.

So does my good friend Caitlin Gibson. Read today's Achenblog. Achenblog: Horses, Races and Horseraces

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

And in the "Wile E. Coyote, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPERgenius" department:


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

omni -- knitting supplies -- needles, yarn, etc. are in craft stores such as Michael's. Altho I agree that wool is much nicer to work with, if you are knitting for newborns you will probably be required to use some sort of acrylic because of the allergy factor.

Posted by: nellie | May 6, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

LKB, spot on with your remarks. I've owned two ex racehorses. I still have the second one, who is 21 years old now. I retrained the first one myself straight off the track. He was unsuccessful at the track, to say the least, but apparently was raised to think he was a minor deity. And that one was on the track until he was nine. I have good friends who are involved in rehoming ex-racers, and they're constantly battling misconceptions about the soundness, physical and mental, of racehorses.

Perhaps Caitlin needs to meet some more ex-racers, rather than basing her opinion on one unfortunate horse.

(By the way, I hope Buddy had a thorough vet evaluation for underlying pain or injuries that might have caused his issues with riding).

I don't disagree that changes need to be made in horse racing, but I don't think PETA-esque stances are going to move the dialogue along.

Posted by: emb | May 6, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody, good discussion on horse racing. Never appealed to me; my cousins were into dressage and that was the point of horses, when I was a kid.

I've had my twin fix. They are growing fast! Of course, that's what happens when they figure out this feeding thing. My task was to give each baby his supplemental bottle. P spit up a little, but only after sucking the bottle completely dry. It's good to see babies thriving!

TBG, Andy came out for Beverly Perdue, one of the Democratic candidates for governor.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks slyness, I was also dying to know who Sheriff Taylor wanted you to vote for.

Blessings for the babies--

Posted by: kbertocci | May 6, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks kber!

I have to confess that I didn't vote for Ms. Perdue, I voted for Richard Moore, who has been state treasurer for a couple of terms. I was impressed when I heard him speak at a fire association conference and I like how successful he has been with the various state pension funds.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

You know, this selective breeding of thoroughbreds has gone on for ages. I decided to pick up my book on the Derby winners--actually trying to find info about Native Dancer, who won the Derby in 1953 and was voted Horse of the Year in '54 and is the antecedent of Barbaro and Eight Belles--but this antique volume in my library only covers the years from the Derby's start up until 1949.

There are pedigree charts for each Derby-winning horse going back two generations. What duo's name turned up about a handful of times as I worked by way back from 1949 to 1938? Teddy and Plucky Liege.

As it so happens, there is a website about the brood mare Plucky Liege. Several Derby winners descend from her offspring Bull Dog and Sir Gallahad III.

I saw in the charts within my book about the Derby winners the name of John O'Gaunt who bred with Canterbury Pilgrim to produce Swynford. Not that is hitting awfully close to home!

Posted by: Loomis | May 6, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

This just in at the NYT:

WASHINGTON -- A House subcommittee investigating the Bush administration's approval for harsh interrogation methods voted on Tuesday to issue a subpoena to David S. Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and a major proponent of the methods, which some legal experts have condemned as illegal torture.

Two former administration officials, John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and John C. Yoo, who wrote controversial legal opinions justifying harsh techniques, have agreed to give public testimony to a House Judiciary subcommittee, staff members said.

Posted by: Loomis | May 6, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

RD, Horse racing is already highly regulated. The horse racing industry does not allow convincted felons to own racehorses, etc.

Sadly, the kind of accident that happened to Eight Belles CAN and does happen to a horse running in a pasture. Horses are extremely fragile animals; their bones are like eggs, very strong if you squeeze them top to bottom, but a little askew or pressure to the sides, and they crumple like eggshells.

Good story about Buddy, Caitlin. Some retired racers go on to be ridable. Unfortunately it sounds like Buddy was not only a no-winner, that his old trainer was no winner either. It happens.

Eight Belles crossed the line with her ears up, and wanted to run even more. The injury did not occur as a result of being whipped.

It may be a fabrication to suggest horses run of their own desire, but it is also a fabrication to suggest they run purely because they have been terrified into doing so.

Stallions in the wild will run along boundary lines alongside each other.

Next show jumpers will be targeted because it's cruel to make a horse jump which is unnatural, and then next pleasure riding and harness driving will be targeted as well, and then horses will be kept as pets only, and given the status of such, and then because a horse is 8 times more likely to kill and injure people than a dog, they will be legislated out of existence, and the only horses left will be illegal horses and mustangs who are lucky to even live to see 9 years old thanks to disease, starvation, and predators.

And you know, these mustangs will also break legs too. They just won't do it on national TV, and they won't have vets out there right away for treatment and euthanasia.

1 1/4 mile is not as much as the original racehorses (fully mature) were intended to run-- 4 1/2 miles.
Arabian endurance races will cover 50 miles, limited water-- absolutely key to survival in the desert.

Like humans, horses have evolved an unique ability to stay cool while running long distances-- sweating. This goes against the argument that horses by nature are only intended to run short distances, like say, dogs, cheetahs, deer, etc.

As a matter of fact, humans themselves are designed to run long distances while hunting. This hunter ran 21 miles in 3.5 hours while pursuing prey.

Most of us would consider that cruelty to ourselves, because we're used to a sedentary lifestyle, and we also have accumulated a lot of people who lack the necessary physical abilities (bad joints, tendency to heavy body mass etc.) to do such running.

I think when we project our antipathy to exercise to horses, we are being very cruel to them and overly anthromorphic.

That's all I'm saying on this score.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

That's a pretty neat article, Wilbrod. I am curious to know why the author had his name removed from the credits of one of the films he worked with.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 6, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Thoughts from all over the map...
It does sound as if Buddy's problems stem from a bad owner, not necessarily a bad industry. And unfortunately, the cruelty inflicted once $ stops rolling in reaches to humans as well, otherwise there would be no elder-abuse hotlines in the front of the phone book.
Eight Belles could have had that injury anywhere...thank goodness it didn't happen on the first turn, causing a pile-up that would have injured more horses *and* jockeys. Accidents happen. I'm sure we all know that all too well. That she went down at the Derby is's not the first time that horse ran a good solid race.
A deeper philosophical question...animals have been used to enhance the human condition since the beginning of time; it's part of us being at the top of the food chain. Oxen pulling plows, medical testing, service animals, it's all about improving the human condition. Part of said human condition is the enjoyment of life; should the line be drawn to use animals only to improve certain human conditions? If that's the case, isn't a pet purely for improving the human condition/enjoyment? Who gets to decide? Not advocating one position or another (and don't have a pet); just posing the question.
DCs got two new outfits, but nothing to wear to T1's graduation this weekend. We'll just have to deal with that later.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 6, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

How are convicted felons prevented by a private organization from owning horses? Prevented from racing them, yes, but how can they be prevented from ownership? Does that mean that those horses and their offspring are forever-after prevented from racing, or does the stain go away as soon as someone else takes over from the felonious owner?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 6, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

There is a running joke in running circles that you aren't going to beat the Kenyans. Runners from the sub-Saharan countries seem to have a lock on competitive distance running. It seems they are now chasing trophies instead of grazing animals.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, as long as the animal gets food, shelter, water, and relative safety from predators like big nasty bears or ticks, it's often the better deal for the animal.

Although I don't like the desexing movement nationwide against dogs. Do you know how hard it is to impress the girls when you smell like one yourself?

Now it's time to work like a dog again. MM, walkies to the store and keeping my nose to myself... although not IN THAT WAY. If I'm good, I'll get to visit the pet store and say hello to everybody.

Then there's more playtime, and another nap, and so life goes by. Beats 2 months sitting in a shelter wondering why nobody loves me anymore, doesn't it?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | May 6, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, actually you do need a license to own a thoroughbred, apparently. This is the law in most horse-racing countries.

Privately, they cannot race their horses, and they cannot obtain racing licenses.

2003 law tightening loopholes.

So yes, there are already governmental controls over the industry.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, have look at Barnes' opinion columns I linked too earlier, you might find them interesting. It's not science, but a very informed opinion.

For once this (horsey) boodle hasn't morphed into a recipe exchange forum. I would be exchanging recipes with myself, in the absence of SuperFrenchie and Eurotrash.

10 hours and 50 minutes after kit posting and we are still on-topic. Must be some kind of record.

BTW a neighbour is a vet at the racetrack half a mile from here. His recycling pile usually contain an astonishing qty of med boxes. I'm just saying.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 6, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

SCC to *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 6, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the strongest control over the horse racing industry will be the lack of an audience for its spectator sport. It will go back to being the Sport of Kings, or at least the Sport of Tycoons, because horse racing will be of private interest only to the owners of the horses and a few horse-lovers who lack the serious dough required to enter the game. When that happens, and there is no longer any significant financial gain to be obtained from speed, owners will have to start breeding for versatility. They'll still want a fast horse -- but they'll also want a horse that can survive several years. Even rich guys, even heartless ones, probably are loath to blow millions on a horse with a strong chance of being fatally injured in its first race or two.

Here's a good example of a durable fast horse:
John Henry is a good argument in favor of cloning as a way to recover valuable traits. It's hard to breed a gelding. Or, easier than cloning, capture semen from a stallion before it is gelded and bank it on the chance that the horse may be great. I understand that artificial insemination is not permissible for foaling a race horse -- but is it acceptable for breeding the parents of a race horse?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 6, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, I have a recipe for equine pot pie, and another for Native Dancer stew...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Ewww, Mudge, just EWWW.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, Northern Dancer lived to be 39 years old. Eight Belles had a high Northern Dancer ancestry, as Loomis pointed out.

BTW, Eight Belles had raced 10 times already. And your question is... well, I don't think a horse foaled by AI can be registered as a Thoroughbred, and right now only registered Thoroughbred of registered parents (as I understand it) are permitted to race, so no.

Actually I wanted to ask TBG if she had any good ground lamb recipes, I was thinking of something souvlaki-like, so I would want mint-yogurt sauce recipes too.


Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

We had us an earthquake! If I'd been home I probably would have felt it.

The folks at the nearby shopping center told Dr G it sounded like a truck had driven into one of the stores.

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod from what WIKI says Northern Dancer was the great grandshire of the Derby winner this year Big Brown (is that the correct name?). I checked because the horse Loomis linked to was Native Dancer who started the line.

I had never heard of Native Dancer so looked it up - here Northern Dancer is a legend there are many equine facilities in this general area. I do not follow racing much but do know of Northern Dancer.

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

TBG we had a small earthquake a few years ago, I was in our office, which was a basement office - the sound was what I remember I thought a couple of trucks had collided at the intersection outside the building. Only knew it was an earthquake when I read about it in the paper.

In Ottawa I felt the earthquakes - well is was my university days I sort of woke up from a dead sleep feeling I was shivering. Reading the paper later told me it was the building shaking not me.

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod... here's a repost from a couple of weeks ago...

We grilled Greekburgers for dinner. But this time I added ground lamb to the beef (in fact, it was two-thirds lamb). I've discovered excellent ground lamb at Wegman's our fabulous grocery store, recently expanded down here from upstate New York and Western & Central Pennsylvania.

To the lamb and beef I added lots of Cavender's Greek Seasoning, some dried mint, dried onion bits, bread crumbs and malt vinegar. Once on the bun, I topped them with tsaziki and hummus, tomatoes and feta cheese. Mmmm... best of all, it was our first dinner out on the deck.

On the side, we had a collection of olives, also from Wegman's incredible olive bar.

Cavender's is a staple in our home...

Posted by: TBG | April 19, 2008 7:22 PM

I usually buy the tsaziki at Wegman's, Costco... even Safeway has it. If you don't have Cavender's, just make sure to include the dried mint and dried onion. A little garlic powder is nice, too.

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Son of G said he felt the earthquake. Thought a truck had hit something.

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Native Dancer is the grandsire of both Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, making them half-first cousins. (And 1/2 2nd cousins once removed, 1/2 3rd cousins due to other ancestry as well).

Eight Belles had Mr. Prospector 3x in her ancestry, and Northern Dancer 1x if I recall right. (Raise a Native, Mr. Prospector's sire, is 3x)

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I can get cavendar's not a problem (it's a yummy mix indeed). Tsaziki might be a bigger problem to buy up here in the boondocks.

Keep the ideas coming!

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Too all chocolate and stout lovers: MMMmmmm good is: Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout. Of course that Chatological Humor Idiot would probably add milk. Get thee to your nearest beer store and demand they stock it.

I'm on my second glass, and am wondering why nobody thought of this before.


Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

*singing-the-stuck-in-Dulles-onna-business-trip-blues-but-thank-FSM-for-WiFi Grover waves*

Ahem... Shriek, I do belive I was off-topic when I posted the "motorcyclist flips off police and then crashes" article.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

still no comment on the flower pix?

I recognize the pansies. Lovely (a favorite person's favorite,I can understand why). Can someone identify the all yellow and the all pink in the neighborhood pix?

I'm just now getting the hang of my digicam, so expect more of this and that...

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Nice pictures, omni. The pinks are azaleas, aren't they?

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

All those cousins getting together Wilbrod - looks like my family tree :-).

Couldn't see well enough to know what the pink flowers were omni - cranesbill?

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Yes, horse-racing may be regulated. But is it regulated properly? I suggest that the simple fact that reasonable people of good conscience are troubled by the way the industry is evolving strongly implies it is not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Omni - sounds like a noble cause. I once drank a pint of chocolate ale at a microbrewery. Good stuff.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Lovely photos, omni. The pink flowers look to me like azaleas.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Depends on how you define reasonable, RD. 80 years ago, people lived and worked with horses regularly.
Today, very few people do. It is very easy for people to convince people of incorrect factual information and get them concerned as a consequence.

For instance, if you read Caitlin's essay which charges horse racing with abuse and ties Eight Belles' breakdown, and you knew NOTHING whatsoever of horses, you would think it would take an incredible amount of abuse to make a horse break a bone.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Horses have fairly large brains for herbivores, and most of that is dedicated to coordinating their bodies, because they are 1/2 ton-plus herbivores on relatively slender legs. One misstep can result in the horse's death.

John Henry raced 85 times and remained sound because he was very careful about his footing. His trainer said he would walk around stones carefully on his way to workouts. Never went lame in 9 years of racing.

I've heard stories of a horse bumping a shoulder on a stall when being led out, and breaking a bone and having to be put down. A horse once stomped his feet at a fly and broke his leg right there because he put down his foot wrong.

Reasonable people who KNOW horses know that breakdowns can occur very easily within seconds. Studies of bone development across species also show that the less work a limb does, the more fragile bones become. An underexercised horse is much more likely to snap a bone at a trot or a gallop than a well-conditioned horse is. One could argue that the horse also has to learn how to run safely, as well, from an early age in brief controlled workouts.

Again, "reasonable people" who know horses are a fast-dwindling minority, and it's very easy for people to paint them as "oh, they abuse horses, don't listen to them." Never mind that those people may have handled thousands of horses, more than most critics will ever see in a lifetime.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The little turtles are nice.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - I'm not going to get into this any more because what we are dealing with are aesthetic considerations which are inherently subjective. What one person accepts as reasonable another can just as easily find unreasonable.

I will assert that, to me, any scenario in which an animal can so easily fall prey to a life-ending accident for no other reason than to give people a thrill and an opportunity to bet is ugly.

Therefore, I assert that, to me, it is reasonable and prudent to closely examine this industry to see what can be done to improve the situation.

I am not advocating banning racing, for as I have argued before, intrinsically limited bans and boycotts of this kind provide no real leverage to change and are, therefore, unreasonable.

But I do strongly assert that, to me, simply accepting the status quo as the way it must be is equally unreasonable.

You are free to assert otherwise.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 6, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

CNN calls NC for Obama.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

omni-the pink flowers look like azaleas to me too. Did you mean the all yellow flowers in with the pansies? They are pansies too. Technically the yellow flowers in the vase are mums, not daisies. Shasta and English Daisies are the ones we classically call daisies and they are white with yellow centers. Mums and asters both can masquerade as daisies.

Nothing in bloom here yet, not even the trees but we have signs of a great year for the perennials I transplanted last year. So I think it's time for tune cootie.

Sweet Columbine
When it came up, I can't begin to know when
But then I know it's growing strong
Oh, wasn't the spring, whooo
'cause spring gave in to winter,
Who'd believe snow'd last so long

Leaves, purple leaves, reaching out
seeking rain, seeking sun.
Oh, sweet Columbine
Seemed like spring would never come
I've been inclined to believe it never would

Posted by: frostbitten | May 6, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Omni, I had to go out but was trying to figure out what the lovely purpley blue flowers were in the photo with the beverage.

Are you on what you call the Red line? Not that I know a red line from a blue line, or even a pink one. I did find a list of stores that refer to the red line.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I believe the purpley blue flowers were orchids.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 6, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I share the same hopes for improvement of safety, RD.

However, I do assert that a significant percentage of the risk has nothing whatsoever to whatever entertainment or betting is involved.

Horses will be horses, period. Accidents by their definition, occur without malice aforethought.

Because of the dwindling pool of people who are knowledgeable enough about horses (and not the critics) to advocate practice changes...

It is also better for people actively involved with the industry to be pressured to focus on safety using their expertise, rather than for us to kibbitz on the issue.

Caitlin chose to portray the trainer as heartless without investigating his safety record, or any other information to put his reactions in some sort of context. This is an opinion article, granted, but one thing I like about Joel is that he gives the context and let the reader decide for himself.

Take this report in which Jones says he keeps looking for the filly, and sounds to be still in shock, and said if only one ankle had broken, she could have been saved.

I just saw the video and Eight Belles took 2 strides at a gallop after her right ankle was obviously hurt, even when she buckled to her knees she was still trying to run one more stride.

This occured after she had already won, the jockey was trying to slow her down after the finish line and cool-down. It was not "during" the event.

The autopsy report will be done soon and we will know more.

It seems from the limited-quality video, as though there was a misstep in which one leg that should have been stretching out was put down while flexed, and this immediately followed a leg being put down a little late, which indicates she was incorrectly catching her balance from a misstep. Even as she dove down, she was still trying to get another stride in.

Barbaro pulled up immediately after his injury, saving his other legs (and you cannot stop a racehorse who does not want to be stopped within 1-3 strides, no.).

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh jeez, one percent of precincts reporting and everybody's already calling North Carolina for Obama! Doncha think they should wait till, say, 20 percent have reported? Yeah, I know he's gonna win, but still! (And *I* voted for him!)

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

SCC: By immediately, within 100 yards. Barbaro, by continuing to run, compounded an inital (not-fatal) cannon bone injury in his rear leg with additional injuries to his pastern (ankle) bones. However he did not take any more missteps or lose his balance because it was a rear injury, not a frontal injury.

It'll be a delight to change the kit eventually.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

My mother read Black Beauty to me when I was five years old, in the hospital with my eyes bandaged. That was an intense literary experience and remains today the source of most of my information about horses. Which is to say, I don't know anything about horses or horse racing, but I am extremely sympathetic to their suffering, and I hope that people who do know something about it will continue to work to improve horse racing and minimize the cost to the animals.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 6, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Aren't you right on that, Slyness. I'm just hiding from TV for the night.

Time to walk the dog again. I may never be able to do a persistence hunt, as in an hunter-gatherer environment, I'd have been dead at birth.

However I sure could leg a couple miles more today, and give back some joy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

According to the WaPo front page, Obama is winning NC -- only 5% of precincts reported, but the split is 65/35. That's a huge disparity.

Posted by: PlainTim | May 6, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Oddly, even though Indiana is reporting from 39% of precincts with a whopping 56/44 split for Clinton, this race is held to be too close to call.

Posted by: PlainTim | May 6, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

PlainTim, I am sure you know this but it is the precincts that are not yet reporting that are holding the decision in Indiana - most are predicted to be strong Obama precincts.

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm on the Red and Green. Red a bus ride away, Green direct just a block. I think I know where a Michael's is (but a transfer or two(takes for ever) Springfield I think) )))))

DID i Close enough parens?

Posted by: omni | May 6, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Scotty, you were definitively off topic. I just missed it among all the on-topic stuff. It wasn't meant to ignore you, you are one that is consistently off topic after all and you should be proud of it.
Don't ewwww horse meat. I was raised on it; my mother was a great advocate of the 'goodness' of horsemeat. It turns out it's low in bad cholesterol and slightly higher in omega 3 stuff than beef so, as usual, mothers are right. Mrs. Denizen and the Fungi were also fed horse meat in the late pregnancy/first year period, as we were living within a stone throw of a horsemeat butcher. With Witch no 1 and no. 2 riding horses and ponies, it has become a bit of an issue though.
In this Anglo region I've seen horsemeat butcher come and go at least three times in the last 20 years. One guy even had protesters on his doorstep, what a joke. Food taboos are very strong indeed.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 6, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The deal is closed.

Posted by: Jumper | May 6, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... I took a screen shot of my WaPo home page that showed Obama the winner in North Carolina with 0% of the precincts reported; Obama was leading with 0% over Clinton's 0%.

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Not decisive in Indiana from what I see, with 75% in, just a four point spread...more decisive in NC, with a 14 point spread...

I see my candidate for governor is being beat by Sheriff Taylor's. Oh well.

Posted by: slyness | May 6, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Actually, dmd, I had not spared a thought to the issue of *which* precincts had not yet reported. I was just thinking that they could be treated as similar. You are right, of course.

NC somewhat closer than before. My Hoosier brethren still haven't quite wrapped it up, but it looks like it will be Clinton. If it turns to Obama, it will be by only a narrow margin. Given proportional representation, it doesn't make much difference who technically wins, it's nearly a draw on delegates. Right?

My natal county (Marion) is for Obama. Well, actually, my natal county is Brown, but I lived in Marion from about age 1 to 10. Brown is evenly split.

I'm somewhat surprised. I figured that after my family moved to MD, there wouldn't be enough Democrats left in Indiana to run a primary.

Posted by: PlainTim | May 6, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I was going to mention Black Beauty as the story of what horses went through when they were common as transportation and beasts of burden. It's haunted me since my childhood.

I think the horse racing industry knows they have to do something. Having horses break down in front of millions is not a good thing. Andrew Beyer wrote a good article the other day. He mentioned that breeding - selling yearlings, not racing them - is where the money is now. And so people aren't as interested in breeding for soundness. Not sure what you do to regulate the greed that drives that.

There were a couple of horse fatalities and a serious human injury at the 3-day event in Kentucky over the weekend, during the cross country phase. Apparently David O'Connor is leading a look at how to make that safer for horses and riders. The obstacles that are used for major cross country events, including the Olympics, seem way too dangerous to me.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 6, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I knew we had a lot of horse lovers here in the Boodler, but never suspected so many of you were into horse racing.

Big, big night for Obama. We won't get the decisive Lake County votes until midnight--that means he's going to cut further into Hillary's 4-point margin. It still looks like he won't win outright, but there's no question he's one a big night, and Hillary's ship is deeper in the water than ever before.

Hillary was supposed to come out and speak soon, but I think she'll delay until Indiana is called.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Nope; wrong. She's about to speak now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed emotions about racing. In the US, it's about the only thing to do with horses that is televised. So I've watched the Triple Crown races all my life, but much prefer other equestrian sports. None of which are without risk.

Omni, knitting! I would recommend wooden or bamboo needles - much better than metal (unless they're Addi Turbo). Good luck with it - it takes patience and persistence, but I hope you have a great time and get hooked, so to speak.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 6, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow... nearly 20,000 Democrats in North Carolina voted for No Preference, beating Mike Gravel by 9,000 votes.

Posted by: TBG | May 6, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

I read Black Beauty, too.

A rare accident is NOT equalivent to chronic abuse and neglect.

For heavens sake, my parents had deaf kids. Does that mean they beat all their kids until a couple went deaf?

People have this need to attribute everything to other people's control. In the 1950's, all autistic kids were "made so by frigid, unloving refrigator mothers." It took real research by an concerned father of an autistic child to debunk that myth at last.

This book I will recommend: Dyslogic syndrome by Bernard Rawland. He's the one who helped debunk it, and he's also extremely concerned about the epidemic of ADD, learning disabled, oppositional defiant disorder, childhood depression/mood disorders, etc.

And his explanation? Those disorders are completely biological, not the result of poor parenting. The parent is not to blame, but there are things that CAN be done for the child to improve the outcome.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

omni, so help me, if you take up knitting and knit so much as one stinking doily for the bunker, I'm gonna have you taken out to the parade ground, strip off your epaulets and brass buttons, and snap your knitting needles over my knee. Knit all the mittens and scarves and antimacassars you want, but none shall pass through the bunker storm door. We're already up to our keesters in knit goods in the bunker, and we can't even play pool because the pool table is stacked three feet deep in skenes of merino or some *&^%$ yarn.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 6, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, I agree. I love watching horses on TV, and I particularly like dressage and I was angry, angry they cut it from the Olympics televised here last time.

I found NBC's coverage of the Olympics completely rancid anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

pssst,Mudge-doilies are typically crocheted, not knitted.

I wasn't a Hilary hater before the campaign, and should she be nominated I'll vote for her, but listening to her speak now is a big let down in the looking toward the future department. She better be careful about talking too much about counting Michigan's votes since she stayed on the ballot when others pulled out-it makes it look like she meant trick all the other dem candidates and it's already not too far a reach for a lot of people to think the worst of her in the integrity department.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 6, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Getting off, but wanted to SCC: Bernard Rimland.

Autism has recently been linked to distance from mercury-producing plants.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Help me. I am lost on the Red Line. Or is it the Blue line?Green? Aggggghhhhhh How the ?*&%# do you guys get around?

I can't locate addresses in reference to rail lines, but I searched a couple of sources of knitterly things, and found Stitch DC and Knit Happens are rated really highly by the yarn peeps.

Of course if you can find a Micheals, and it is easier, they really do have everything you need. the thing about a good local store is they will be pleased as punch to have you there, and will make sure you get the right stuff. I hope this helps.

Mudge, its ok. Really. Truth be told, historically, knitting was a man's job, a guild even, till the industrial revolution came along and ruined it all. Yarny things used to be highly sought after manly careers.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

In other breaking news, I did say I would post about my new employment when I was able.

I will be starting work in a small but really nice yarn store tomorrow. The pay is not great at all, but there are so many opportunities to learn about the retail and wholesesale side of yarn things. One of my proposed duties will be working with online things and doing a bit of writing, which is the most exciting prospect of all.

My hope is that where I lack mad writing skilz (spelling/grammar), I can compensate with an abiding enthusiasm for all things yarn.

Translation: The fox is in the henhouse and has been asked to gather the eggs.

Posted by: dr | May 6, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

dr, good luck tomorrow - doing something you love - priceless!

Posted by: dmd | May 6, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

dr, the average guy only liked knitting when we could do it with big honking machines that could take your arm off.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 6, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Great news on the job front, dr, and good luck!

Or as the old knitting saying goes, may all your socks be similar.

Or something like that.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 6, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

dr, that's great. I thought it might be something like that. Your writing is wonderful.

SofC, I strive for sock similarity. I'm getting closer, but haven't quite achieved it yet.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 7, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations, dr!! May all your purls never need to be undone.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 7, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

What a wonderful job, dr! Oddly enough, I know of two people who have yarn shop jobs where they sit and knit with new designs/yarn, talk to the customers, and both love it so much they have turned down other job offers. Have fun!

Posted by: nellie | May 7, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Telling yarns in the yarn shop?

Thinking of not-quite-knitting, a couple of my grandmother's crocheted doilies are in the house. I still look at them and wonder how on earth they were assembled.

(unable to sleep again)

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 7, 2008 3:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you DotC..Been up since grover waves...howabout ...shave and a hair cut.

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2008 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Yawn.I need more sleep.

Yarn soon to be in me hands

dr, good on ya

I'll prolly be asking quests soon

bad poetry is us...(as i said...need more slepp)

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. I see that Obama has cut the Indiana margin down to only 2 points, and has held his NC margin by 14 points in a much bigger state. Trouble is, it didn't seem to phase Hillary or her camp very much. But I think it's going to take a few days of reaction time for her money supply to dry up again. Meanwhile, I'm waiting to see how the delegate count will go.

Meanwhile, I'm mildly outraged that Karl Rove, yes, the spawn of Satan, is having a WaPo chat at 11 a.m. today. I've decided I'm not going to go to it nor read the transcript of it. I just hope it bombs, but it probably won't.

OK, on to the day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2008 5:56 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Omni, would the person who invited you be willing to lend you tools for a little while?

Posted by: dbG | May 7, 2008 6:15 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. Caitlin your kit is excellent, and very timely. In my mind the only question is, mankind is not good to each other, why would the animals fare any better? A look at the nightly news is more than enough evidence to support the question. We abuse each other.

Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Martooni, Scotty, and all.*waving*

The county I live in supported Clinton. Obama won the state. One has to remember this is a county that was under a curfew not that many years ago because of racial strife. Nuff said. Also a lady that has ran a number of times for county commissioner here finally won, and won big. She drives an electric pink Cadalliac(sp)and is our resident artist also. She handed me a flyer a couple of days ago, and talked to me, and I heard not one word. Not one. I did read the flyer.

The Board of Education had a big shake-up. Folks here are upset about some changes in the school system that will impact them in a big way. They voted out some of those that have been on the board for awhile. One guy wrote in the paper before the election, we need to clear out everything that is already seated, and start fresh. Sounds good, but the fresh somehow gets contaminated after being in there awhile. I don't know, maybe it's the air in the buildings. You think?

I got in late last night. I had a young man to tutor. The kids got their report cards yesterday, and this young man has been failing the whole year. His sister aced her subjects. I don't understand why his grandmother waited so long to seek help for him. His grades have been down most of the year.

Today is the busy day. A lot on the plate. Have a good day, my friends. I've been up so long, I feel like going back to bed. Can't do that. Much to do.

Hello, JA. How's it going in Australia? Are you enjoying your trip? I hope so.

Posted by: cassandra s | May 7, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, I did some google image searching and it apears you are right and my florist is mistaken. I have Pink Mums and Yellow Mums.

The yellow flowers in the neighborhood pix I asked about was supposed to be the first in that category, but ended up third online (Stupid AOL). It's the pix with "flowers in the neighborhood" caption. The other two in this category include the word 'more...' and the words "and yet more".

RDP. did you miss the original link to my turtles (posted online 5/9/2007) almost a year ago.

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, still so much catching up to do.

Yes, the purple flowers in the bar were Orchids. I liked them so much I wanted to take them home with ME. But my bartenders eyes lit up so big...My heart just glowed with her warmth.

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes dr, The DC Metro Red Line is what I take on my commute for work (1.25 mile bus ride from home). The Green Line however is a block from home.

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Caitlin, I appreciate that your family loved Buddy dearly, and think that it speaks well to your character that you took such good care of him. However, Buddy came of racing age in the racing industry over 20 years ago, and things are very different today.

Buddy's story doesn't really apply to what happens to race horses today. Multiple organizations now exist to foster ex-racehorses into loving homes and new careers as riding horses and companion animals.

Potential owners must be approved before they are allowed to adopt an ex-racehorse, helping to ensure their new horse receives top-quality care. There are multiple organizations in existence that do this now.

That is not to say that horses don't slip through the cracks these days. Some do, and some always will. No system is perfect. Some horses, no matter in the racing industry or not, will injure themselves badly enough that euthanasia is the kindest option. In the same vein, there will always be abusive horse owners. The best that the rest of us can do is try to ensure that it happens as rarely as possible.

Caitlin, I thought your piece was a lovely testimony to the life of the animal that you loved. However, it is NOT an accurate portrayal of today's racing industry. To title the page "Horses, Races and Racehorses" is inaccurate, and potentially harmful to those of us who know better.

Posted by: lasaire | May 7, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Good article, but you're incorrect in many areas.

- Eight Belles did NOT get injured until after the finish. It's obvious. No horse can run on two broken legs. Horses WILL run (or play!) themselves to injury or death, I've seen it, but with an injury like that, it is impossible to stand, let alone run. She was not "forced" through an injury, and saying that is plain ignorant.

- Buddy's new owners must have not been very horse savvy, because those training issues can be corrected with proper work.
I've owned ex-racehorses. It's a simple matter of not being too lazy to work with them to get them retrained so they aren't afraid anymore.

This is assuming they're afraid in the FIRST place-- most aren't. Most horses like to run.

- Buddy's legs: No one with any experience at all would have barbed wire, so blaming that on racing is ridiculous.

- Buddy was in his twenties-- why is that "too young" to die? Many horses die 20-30 yrs old.

- What evidence do you have that racing so young hurts them? Please list scientific studies. Racehorses break down of all ages. I'm not debating this point-- I myself wouldn't ride a horse significantly until three -- but I've never seen studies that show breaking them later will help. I've heard some vets say it might increase injuries to wait until later, as bones are built when they are excercised.

- Have you competed on a horse? I know from personal experience, a horse can be so competitive that they are impossible to stop. Don't think they are dumb animals that are whipped, that's wrong.

- Crops (they never use whips in racing) are not cruel. This is the biggest miscoception I've seen being touted by non-horse people. They are a cue to direct the horse and tell them when it's time to open up, just like the bit tells them when to slow down. You *CANNOT* beat a horse into running or doing anything it doesn't want to do. I know, sadly I've seen it try to be done. Horses are stronger than people.

- The TB industry SUPPORTS horse rescue and is ANTI-SLAUGHTER, unlike other horse industries (AQHA is pro-slaughter).

- DNA? Unlikely. I'll believe it when there are studies that show TBs have become more "fragile" or are different than other breeds. Many TB's have small hooves and legs, but so do QH's, paints, appys, etc...
If anything, you would think TBs would have to be STRONGER to have legs that hold up to this kind of racing, most horses aren't put under that stress at 2.

But, I think they need to race horses OLDER so horses will be bred for long-term stability.

- Horses die daily when they sustain injuries playing. No one cares though, because it's not broadcast publicly. The fact that racing is broadcast to a horse-ignorant public means that injuries and deaths cause people to freak out more than is necessary.

Posted by: Isabella Palomino | May 8, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

No one can argue against Buddy's plight; he got a raw deal and his cruel handers should be held accountable. But while I appreciate the anecdote and understand it has its place on a blog, I too am of the opinion that the personal sentiment involved gets in the way of the facts.

But the lack of facts is not my issue with Ms. Gibson's article; the comments here have done plenty to bring the facts on all sides of the argument to light.

The problem I have is with the claim that horses don't have an innate desire to run fast. Firstly, Eight Belles did not "willingly run herself to death" nor was she whipped into a freakish and tragic breakdown. She ran her heart out not because there was a $5 million purse, she did so because she's a thoroughbred and contrary to Ms. Gibson and Buddy's experience, thoroughbreds do enjoy running very fast. They frigging love it actually. Ask anyone involved in the sport and they will tell you that the best racehorses have the desire not only to run, but to win.

The emotional reaction to a horse being euthanized is universal. No sporting event has ever made me as upset as the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic when George Washington stood 50 yards from me with a dangling canon bone. But I would never use that image or that emotion to condemn the entire industry.

As my father, a horse lover and thoroughbred trainer for 38 years, often says: these horses are athletes, not pets. They are bred for speed and strength and this often makes them fragile. But while running backs are also risking shredded ligaments with every snap, we humans have the luxury of arthroscopic surgery, wheelchairs and crutches. Sadly, the horse does not. But that in no way makes the sport inhumane.

Sally Jenkins article this past Sunday speaks very intelligently about the horse's desire and how breeding impacts the animal's fragility.

To the person who likened horse racing to dog-fighting: you are a moron.

Posted by: Frank | May 8, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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