A Jockey/Veterinarian’s Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein: ‘I Only Ask That You Recognize The Progress Being Made’

by | 11.14.2019 | 4:17pm
Veterinarian and jockey Ferrin Peterson at Del Mar

Dear Honorable Senator Feinstein,

Thank you for caring so much about our state and having a compassionate ear to listen to each individual need.

I wanted to address some of your concerns over the horse racing industry.

I am a veterinarian, as well as a jockey, a combination of pursuits that gives me a unique perspective on the health and welfare of racehorses. I received my degree from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and I competed as a full-time jockey at the 2019 Del Mar summer meet.

Author Ferrin Peterson, DVM, during an equine welfare project in Myanmar

Additionally, I have traveled the world working in various racetrack veterinary practices to witness firsthand the diversity in training, veterinary treatments, and regulations in a number of jurisdictions, including Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai, Ireland, and England, as well as Kentucky and New York in the United States. I also pioneered equine welfare projects in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Obviously, I have a strong passion for the well-being of animals, and especially horses.

The level of care given to Thoroughbred horses in America is outstanding. Their grooms are with them around the clock, seven days a week. Each day, there is an array of veterinarians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and others attending to the horses' needs. Further, based on my international experience, I can say with confidence that the care racehorses receive in California ranks with the finest in the world.

Changes are always needed. And even though changes made in a large industry like horse racing require time and patience to take their full effect, I have seen immediate positive impact because of recent alterations in whipping and medication rules that benefit both horse and rider.

When I attended this year's Breeders' Cup with UC Davis veterinarians, I was able to observe continued progress toward improving veterinary care. Among the new developments that will have an extremely beneficial impact is the availability of a standing PET-scan, a diagnostic unit that is the first of its kind, made possible through UC Davis and through industry funding inspired by upgrades in California safety protocols.

As a jockey, I put my life on the line every time I ride. I care about the safety of my horses just as much as I do for myself and other jockeys. If I was not fully convinced that our industry was constantly striving for improved welfare of our animals, I would not be a jockey. I only ask that you recognize the progress being made toward the highest possible level of racehorse care, because I know that these horses are already receiving some of the best care in the world, and we are doing all we can to actively remediate the current challenges facing our industry.

Sincerely,
Ferrin Peterson, DVM
Carlsbad, Calif.

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