Opinion: Aftercare Responsibility Doesn’t Begin And End With Breeders

by | 12.01.2017 | 11:28am

Blogger Carleigh Fedorka is deeply immersed in the Thoroughbred racing industry, having worked and lived on multiple Thoroughbred breeding farms. She has had hands-on experience in the foaling, care and sales of hundreds of horses and also in the retraining of retired racehorses for second careers.

In her piece “Blame the Breeder,” Carleigh focuses on how closely farm staff becomes to the horses in their care. While they may not own them, many who work with the horses, whether as foals, yearlings or racehorses, become deeply vested in their health and well being—even after they leave their care.

Carleigh explains that she, and many others involved in the Thoroughbred industry on farms and tracks, reaches out to the owners and trainers every time a horse she cares for changes hands to make it known that if and when the horse is ready for a second career that she would like to be considered as the new, non-racing owner.

She's sent the message out numerous times for horses and farms she knows both personally and by association. Carleigh estimates that about 10 percent of the time, she'll get a response. In the other instances, the horse simply stops racing and she loses track of it, which is heartbreaking to not know if the animal is OK.

While the cry that the burden of a racehorse's entire life is on the breeder is strong, Carleigh refutes the claims and believes very strongly that the onus of a horse's health lies on whomever owns it at that time. Carleigh notes that by making the breeder responsible for the horse forever, the current owner is allowed a pass to treat the horse unfairly or unkindly, knowing that it's felt that the breeder bear responsibility for the animal, no matter in what shape he retires.

Many farms spend thousands of dollars on aftercare to ensure their horses have a safe place to fall, either at their own farms or within a racehorse rehoming organization. But it's imperative that the owner and trainer of the racing horse cooperate for a successful retirement to take place. Carleigh has additional thoughts on helping Thoroughbreds with the One Last Race campaign.

Read more about Carleigh's proposals for securing a horse's safe retirement at A Yankee in Paris.

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