CRUELTY TO HORSES?
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
Blimey! 150,000 read the post, just on face book, and I tried to scan through 500 comments and with a rough count I would say about 65% think I’m a dickhead. That’s okay, even my wife thinks I’m a dickhead, but fair dinkum the misinformation proffered about horses is gobsmacking.
So please let me explain. I have been around horses all my life, I owned and ran a racing and breeding complex in Mangrove Mountain NSW, complete with a veterinary clinic, an operating theatre and a pathology unit. I studied equine pathology and can read a blood test like a book.
(In fact no horse of mine started without a blood test to determine its well being on the morning of a race. If the test showed up any anomaly the horse was scratched.)
Each of 100 stables was made of ironbark logs, without a single nail, and each had a grassy yard at the rear and all stables were covered by a verandah above a fog-sprayed fernery that reeked of jasmine and kept the stables at a constant temperature.
I had up to 130 horses at any one time with about 30 in racing including for some famous owners including all of Russ Hinze’s horses, at one time, and a few of my own. All the horses lived in five star accommodation and wanted for nothing.
They had a huge kidney shaped pool where they could safely swim unattended. All had regular trips to Terrigal beach and after each race they were turned out in an open paddock. My horses never needed spelling.
If any of my staff were found to have been cruel to any animal for any reason it was instant dismissal.
I have experienced racing at its best in France and I have ridden a 100/1 winner at Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney (I know you won’t believe that, but I wouldn’t lie to you).
Now, to be honest, I have never witnessed such verballing and uninformed, ignorant garbage from the animal rightists who invaded my post regarding the unfortunate death of Admire Rakti in the Melbourne Cup.
The horse did not have a “known” heart condition. I said it was “suspected” because of continued reversals in form. Regular cardiograms would have normally detected that condition, but it’s not always the case.
It may have been because of bleeding (a lung condition) but that would have been picked up via scoping.
The horse was obviously in fine physical condition and, contrary to what is being said, was vetted prior to the race with no anomaly found.
It is simply not true to say horses don’t like to race each other. Put them in an open paddock and watch, or find a tape of Black Caviar, (pictured).
They are bred from horses who love to race in the same way golden retrievers are bred from dogs who love to retrieve.
Now, for those who want the whip banned. It’s almost impossible to hurt you, let alone a horse, with the modern whip. It’s about re-directing a horse’s attention on what it’s supposed to be doing.
A horse will quite often refuse an opening or will be quite happy to compete with a horse running seventh.
Banning the whip is likely to cause serious accidents because you have taken away an important handling and steering tool for the jockey. You cannot steer a horse at full gallop because the loose reins are being thrown at it.
Serious accidents cause fatalities in every sport. Would you deny a racing driver a steering wheel?
Now for those who don’t understand the hemispheres of a horse’s brain:
A horse can only feel pain from one part of its body at the same time. It’s more complicated than that but if you want to give a horse an injection and it’s not keen on injections, you pinch it somewhere else or twitch its nose and it will not feel the needle, because its attention is diverted to another point.
The horse was originally a predated, wild plains animal and, as such, has a huge spleen, we have a small spleen that is almost obsolete in terms of its role.
The spleen of a horse, which carries a reserve of pure red cells, is triggered to release a gallon of them into the system when the adrenal gland is triggered. The wild predatory animal like a lion is the same.
A cheetah is the fastest animal alive. When excited, it dumps pure red, oxygenated cells from its spleen to its blood system. The trouble with this is the blood’s plasma, the white cells, can carry only a finite amount of red cells.
It’s much like a garden hose full of marbles.
There is a finite quantity of water to carry the marbles (red cells) to where they are needed. Increase the marbles and there is less water (plasma) to carry them. The marbles will eventually clog and come to a stop. So will the animal.
A cheetah can go fast but only for a very short distance, and that’s why a horse (a predated animal) will also sprint, but only for a short distance.
This process strengthens the species of both predatory and predated animals. The one that gets caught doesn’t get to breed the one that catches does.
When a jockey has timed his run correctly, he urges the horse forward at a certain point in the race, the adrenal gland triggers the splenic release and affords the horse a huge boost in oxygenated red cells, but only for a short distance. Maybe as short as 200m.
If the jockey has timed his run well, the horse’s blood will turn to a thick useless gunk right on the winning post.
This is why it is essential a horse relaxes in the initial part of a race. Even a short race. Badly trained horses that jump out of the barriers and take off like cut snakes stop just as quickly, and for good reason.
A stayer is not disadvantaged by distance as posters say here. A horse has either slow- or fast-twitch muscles and a biopsy will determine which.
Much like one athlete will excel at 100m another at middle distance and another will excel at the marathon. A stayer is bred to relax and a sprinter is bred to explode.
Now for those who think by not going into a barrier stall a horse is showing an aversion to race. Not true! Horses get claustrophobic like humans do and they don’t like being touched on the flanks.
My horses never played up at the start because I regularly put their feed bins in the barrier stalls at home. Then they had no problem going in.
The racing game is a wonderful game but it does have its darker side. The side the AJC and the VRC are desperate not to be known.
I once set a horse for a race in Sydney and, when I legged the jockey up, I told him that the horse could not be beaten. He looked at me in the eye and said, “Not today Larry.”
I knew exactly what he meant, thank Christ. He had saved me and the owners a fortune in bets.
The race was what is commonly known as a “boat race”.
Okay I was a bit hard on the vegetarians. I apologise, but it is my reaction to someone I know who is a vegan and won’t allow her dog to eat meat. She may have a choice herself, but her poor dog is genetically carnivorous and it’s damned cruel to refuse a dog its natural diet. But I have an aversion to vegans anyway.
I agree on one point, The Golden Slipper has broken down more potentially good horses than any other feature race and Tommy Smith was a master at it.
He would break down 100 horses to get 6 tough ones. I disagree that a 2yo race should ever be a feature event.
But honestly, most of what the complainants say here is just plain nonsense and shows an ignorance of what exactly a horse is all about.
If they want to see real cruelty to animals just watch the halal slaughter of a steer. And it happens right here in our suburbs.