Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow Racehorses Fed to the Lions at the Dublin Zoo

In the last month numerous efforts have been launched and considered to reinstitute the slaughter of horses in the United States.
Montana appeared to take the legislative lead, Tennessee is seeking to follow suit, and some Indian Tribes also may want to get on board. Admittedly and unabashedly, I am against the commercial slaughter of any horse, period. If humane veterinary euthanasia is the only answer for any horse with no other options, then I personally maintain that is the compassionate and correct option. It seems to me that there are obvious discrepancies in the pro-slaughter arguments-and the pro-slaughter bottom line must be tied to a profit motive, be it disclosed on not. At least in the Irish example (title above) it's plainly stated that some zoos like to feed lions horsemeat routinely. However, the assertion in this article that "All meats which are used are suitable for human consumption." is inherently fallacious given that racehorses would, as part of a reasonable veterinary care routine, have been wormed with ivermectin or an equivalent, vaccinated, and perhaps given other medications that one is warned not to use in any animal destined for human consumption. It's also claimed therein these Irish horses command from $200-$800 U.S.-a seeming contradiction to the information in the other above article referencing the Northwest tribes that "...for the sick, the old, and the skinny, today there is often no market at all at any price. Buyers who remember paying 70 cents a pounds at auction are today paying as little as 6 cents a pound-if the packers will even take the animal." The Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition is quoted as saying they are"exploring" "adoption and contraception" but still thinks they need a horse slaughtering facility " with a plant at Warm Springs." There just are not that many marauding Mustangs out there to necessitate the immediate opening of a slaughter plant.
I have an article in hand written by Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna for the January/February 2009 Trailhead News (Title: Solutions During Economic Hardship) that mentions that while (equine) "euthanasia by gunshot is should check with local law enforcement agencies to see if this would be considered animal cruelty or would be in violation of any local ordinance." Given the email response I finally received from the AG's office, it is not necessarily illegal at all to shoot your horse in Washington state. So, then, bullets and backhoes could quickly and legally handle the purported "glut" of horses much more cheaply than building slaughterhouses on private land for those that eschew or cannot afford the humane euthanasia option.
If in fact horsemeat prices are so low in the U.S., then why are so many people seeking to construct horse slaughter plants on U.S. private land? Building, maintaining, and staffing a horse slaughter facility on private land would require, methinks, a significant capital investment. And, if there is such a "glut" of horses, then why are so many so eager to make that investment? Where are those for-profit business plans and profitability projections for the end of the "glut"? What entities would finance these start-up slaughter plants? Much press states and restates how "tight" the lending market currently is supposed to be. To my knowledge, conventional banks and lenders have no specific grant options that directly benefit horse rescues and sanctuaries. If the dollars needed to start and man these newly proposed horse slaughter plants were distributed to existing and responsible equine rescues and sanctuaries, the positive results could well be amazing.
Some other interesting, if logic defying, sources of "glut" statistics- Wikipedia listed China as the world's largest processor of horse meat -1,700,000 horses anually. Another source claims there are no statistics available for China. Regardless, after melamine was found in pet food and baby formula, it's hard to imagine discerning global palates clamoring for horsemeat processed in China.
Even the U.K. evidently had a surprise ingredient incident with undeclared horsemeat being detected in a Safeway salami product.
Given that it's estimated just under 100,000 American horses, 1/3 of which are estimated to be thoroughbreds, are exported annually to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, and that the numbers of Americans horse so dispatched to slaughter has not exponentially increased since U.S. slaughterhouses were closed, I must ask again, why the push to build horse slaughter facilities on private U.S. land when horse meat prices are so low? Are zoos planning to hugely increase their lion populations? Seattle's own Woodland Park Zoo just had the Macy's Mom and Me at the Zoo event. I don't know what the big cats were gnawing on that day, but all zoo patrons might ask. Are canned hunts gaining popularity? Is Alistair Overeem a new diet guru?The arguments for horse slaughter in America make neither economic nor humane sense. Maybe (don't let kids do the research here) Hunter S. Thompson was right when he said "When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro".
Meanwhile, some Zoos are offering a few racehorses what I hope will prove to be good permanent retirement options.
We are continuing our Derby Dollar Challenge throughout the Triple Crown Series.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Foals, Nurse Mares,Thoroughbred Slaughter Math, and Premarin

I was recently asked how many thoroughbred foals were registered annually in the United States. According to the Jockey Club , the 2009 foal crop is projected to be 35,400, indicating an estimated 3.3% decline from the 2008 estimate of 36,600 foals. RMB's, or Reports of (Thoroughbred) Mares Bred, are referenced in these estimates. It should also be noted that there are late registration procedures and requirements detailed on the Jockey Club's website. Estimates are estimates,of course, but it is also estimated than more than 98,000 horses went to slaughterhouses in 2008 and that more than 17,000 have so been dispatched through March of 2009, and it is estimated that one-third of those slaughter-bound horses on the kill trucks to Mexico and Canada are thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbred breeders and owners are not slaughtering every years' registered foal crop. Ex-racers, broodmares and stallions who are no longer productive and or/profitable factor into these estimates along with thoroughbreds ending their performance and pleasure careers. A number of thoroughbreds that won't be directed towards the sale barns and racing may not be registered at all. It was brought to my attention that some horse owners are unaware of the role nurse mares fill in breeding and re-breeding. There are thoroughbred nurse mares who may produce unreported and often disposable progeny. It is both statistically and economically unlikely that the foal of a thoroughbred nurse mare, if considered a superfluous "orphan", will be registered. It's not easy to calculate the numbers of thoroughbred nurse mares and foals, but it is not insignificant. Some organizations focus on the plights of Premarin mares their foals of all breeds. Premarin farms in the United States and Canada are not publishing the statistics on any sites I can find.
Chez Chevaux thanks everyone who has supported our Derby Dollar Challenge to date-We are continuing this challenge throughout the Triple Crown series. Please follow Chez Chevaux on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Molly the Cow Escapes the Slaughterhouse

It's wonderful when a rescue saga for each and every animal has a happy ending. Molly showed fine form as she was lucky enough to gallop away from a New York slaughterhouse and reach a safe and caring sanctuary. Many thoroughbred horses bred to run and so doing on America's racetracks today, are not, and will not, be so lucky. Other slower thoroughbreds who are nonetheless young and sound, who don't make it into the starting gate or the daily racing program will, along with pleasure/performance horses, regrettably board the kill trucks with them bound for slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico too. Hopefully, as well written by Bonnie Erbe, the state of Montana will not continue to seek to compound equine suffering and misery. Horses ought not be considered livestock in any event. The United States of America does not have "livestock" Olympic teams-They are Equestrian, as in EQUINE, competitors. To my knowledge, the Kentucky Derby, The Triple Crown, and the Breeders Cup races, with wagering, of course, are open only to qualified thoroughbred horses-not general "livestock".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Kentucky Derby

I want to thank everyone who has participated to date in The Derby Dollar Challenge. We are going to continue this challenge throughout the Triple Crown series towards the end of saving as many unwanted slaughter-bound thoroughbreds as we can.
This Derby Day, Chez Chevaux will be represented by volunteer Diana Martin at a fundraising table at Emerald Downs Racetrack.
I and other volunteers will be at a fundraising BBQ at the Lynwood Cycle Barn today from 10:30 until 2:30. I will find time to watch the Derby! In addition to hoping all the contenders head back to their stalls safe and sound after the race is run (the memory of Eight Belles death last year is something everyone who watched it will never forget), I hope they all stay safe, valued and happy throughout their lives after their racing careers end. Madeleine Pickens and Old Friends were able to fly Fraise and Ogygian back from Japan to a Kentucky safe haven, insuring they wouldn't end up in a slaughterhouse as did Ferdinand and Exceller. We at Chez Chevaux want to see all thoroughbred racehorses, well known or not, enjoy a deserved chance at a second career and/or a well-earned retirement.
Whoever you bet on today (I Want Revenge is one possibility), please make a bet on these horses futures by supporting the rescue of your choice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Horse Slaughter, Seattle Slew and an Easter Miracle

As I was running out the door last Wednesday to leave for the Homes for Horses Coalition Conference, I received a phone call from someone trying to help a friend find safe placements for two retired slaughter bound thoroughbreds that she had previously rescued some years prior. While her intention was to remain their forever home, and that should have been the way things worked out, the current economic climate forced her to change that plan. She was desperately seeking a rescue and/or retirement placement where she could know they would never again face the prospect of slaughter. Although we are still full here, another reputable rescue (also full) has found a foster home for one of the horses ( a Seattle Slew grandson) and we're still working on finding a foster placement for the the other thoroughbred. In direct opposition to cases such as the allegations brought against a professional horse person such as Ernie Paragallo, there are many more private owners of thoroughbreds they have rescued that are finding themselves unable to continue their commitments and are calling out for help to the TB rescues and sanctuaries while their horses are in still good shape and well cared for. The need is huge.
As referred to by Keith Dane of HSUS at the above mentioned conference,rescues and sanctuaries may want to take in and, if appropriate, rehome horses that are, or are in danger of being, homeless or food. However, as of right now, the reality is that nationally, we cannot bail every slaughter bound thoroughbred out of an auction/feedlot, or get them off a double decker trailer.
We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from all of the organizations and individuals who have helped us to continue and expand our mission of helping as many thoroughbreds as we can. A partial list may be found on our website. Many individuals contribute what they can,when they can, whether monetarily or via "in kind" donations", and do not wish to be mentioned. Their trust, faith, and support is equally invaluable.
I'm often asked if we receive State, Local, and/or Federal Support: No-such support is not available to Equine Rescues .
As was mentioned at the HFHconference,conventional grant funding options for equine rescues and sanctuaries are relatively limited.
The ASPCAworks tirelessly for the benefit of all animals and we are very grateful that we received a grant from them to help winterize our paddocks.
Grantmakers that specifically support the thoroughbred horse include:
Thoroughbred Charities of America and After the Finish Line
Blue Horse Charities also supports the thoroughbred adoption community with grants after TB's have been adopted.
Local racing community support is visionary and innovative: Emerald Downs established the Prodigious Fund, an opt-in $1 per start owner option, matched grantmaking entity to assist thoroughbreds transitioning from a racing career into retirement or a second career.
Chez Chevaux is truly honored by and sincerely appreciative of all efforts of these grantmakers .But, the grantmakers can't do it all alone either. Nor should they, and nor should we.
Our list of thoroughbreds in need, be they from the best intentioned connections seeking placement/rehoming assistance or lovely,sound and healthy young thoroughbreds being dropped off at kill buyer auction without a reserve ( slaughter bound) is still lengthy.
We're asking all that can to participate in The Derby Dollar Challenge to assist thoroughbreds in need. And please, refer to todays' previous post: We're still trying to help a concerned party find Slewpyooo.
Thanks and Best,

Slewpyooo, by Slewpy Tattoo F02634

If anyone knows the where this H/J/ Eventer -type chestnut gelding is, please contact us. He has a home waiting for him and there is a cash reward re:his whereabouts offered by this home. I am posting this on her behalf. We were told that someone took to the Enumclaw,WA auction April 5th, 2009, where he was personally purchased for $300.00 by (Enumclaw) Ron Mariotte, and possibly re-sold privately,without being run through the sale. Whether or not he went to a slaughter (kill) buyer or a private individual is unknown. It's our understanding Stanwood Packing (slaughter quarantine?) has told his concerned connection that he isn't there. Please contact Chez Chevaux directly by email @ or call (360)793-4981 and we will refer you to the party concerned.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ernie Paragallo Thoroughbreds Seized

Yesterday morning, as the Homes for Horses Coalition Conference began, this situation was discussed. Regardless of who, what, where, or why these conditions came about, they did. Anyone can "Google" Paragallo and thoroughbreds, read the stories, and form their own opinions. I am simply grateful that these horse are now receiving help. I didn't check my email for the two days I was at the conference (my cell phone was on), and when I got back home and looked late last night, there were a number of linked emails (here's the first)asking if I had heard about this. Yes: I have. During this conference current mass seizures and surrenders of all and indeterminate breeds were also referenced.
Again, regardless of who or why, this is not an isolated incident. Nonetheless, it exemplifies one of the reasons Chez Chevaux has posted The Derby Dollar Challenge.

Homes for Horses Coalition

I am back from the Homes for Horses Coalition Third Annual Conference and I am very grateful I was able to attend. The Conference itself was sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States. Members that were able to attend paid their own ways. The organization of the entire conference was wonderful and the panels, presenters and attendees from all over the U.S. had the opportunity to share a wealth of experience, information, and innovative and inspirational ideas devoted to the benefit of all equines and those who value them.
Panel topics included:
Working with Law Enforcement to Improve Equine Welfare
Finding Homes for Horses: Training and Marketing for Adoption success (my portion of this panel addressed retraining the OTTB - The Off-The-Track-Thoroughbred ex-racehorse)
The GFAS Horse Rescue and Sanctuary Accreditation Program
Euthanasia and Horse Rescues: An Ethical Discussion
Money Matters: Where and How to Seek Grants and Funds
Planning for the Worst: Being Prepared For a Major Disaster
Community Building: Forging Partnerships with State and Local Stakeholders
Keeping Volunteers Engaged: Attracting, Utilizing, and Retaining Volunteers
Promoting Owner and Breeder Responsibility in the Equestrian Community
The tone of this Conference was entirely positive and focused on cooperative solutions.
While it is true that in these current economic times an overwhelming number of horses, be they purebred, crossbred, or ? are in need, and while there are 501c-3 organizations dedicated to equine welfare striving to do what they can: All of us need public support, participation, and volunteers. Please explore the links on this post if you find a mission statement that speaks to you, please contact that worthy organization and ask how you can help.
Happy Easter!

Thank You to After The Finish Line

We are very grateful to After the Finish Line . They have honored Chez Chevaux with a grant that will be used to purchase hay. ATFL has a major fundraiser planned for July 30, 2009, coinciding with the Del Mar racing meet. Please support AFTL's commitment to helping thoroughbreds in any way you might be able to .

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Facebook And Twitter

Please also visit Chez Chevaux on Facebookand Twitter!

The Derby Dollar Challenge

As the 135th Kentucky Derby is but weeks away, I am asking anyone and everyone who can donate even one dollar towards rescuing and supporting thoroughbred ex-racehorse in need to do so. Given the current economic climate, many lovely and heathy thoroughbreds that have great potential for second-careers are indeed going to slaughter in Mexico and Canada. Rescues and sanctuaries are challenged as well right now. Please see our website for more about the Derby Dollar Challenge. I love watching The Derby too, but I know all too well what happens to many wonderful and deserving thoroughbreds that do not make it to the top of the game. Even the fastest, such as Ferdinand, may meet their ends at slaughter.

The Homes for Horses Coalition Conference

April 9-10, 2009, on behalf of Chez Chevaux, I will be attending the Homes for Horses Coalition Third Annual Conference at Bally's Las Vegas. This conference is sponsored by The Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States.A number of rescue,sanctuary,animal welfare advocates and equine industry professional will be in attendance for broad and beneficial panel discussions. I will be participating in a panel discussion on April 9th, from 11:00-12:30 devoted to Finding Homes for Horses:Training and Marketing for Adoption Success. As it is my area of expertise, I will be addressing specifics related to the thoroughbred breed, with emphasis on the ex-race horse, and appropriate pertinent marketing options for adoptions thereby. I am quite excited about this conference and I'll post a synopsis when I get back.
Best to All,
Melodee ,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What One Dollar Can-and Cannot-Do

While the current economic climate in the U.S. is affecting all animals, it is a reality is that large animals are exponentially more impacted as they simply cost more to care for- It takes more money to feed and care for a horse than it does to house a cat. Furthermore, cats and dogs are not being shipped to Mexico and/or Canada for slaughter.
To date in 2009, Chez Chevaux has received more than 30 calls and emails from TB owners, and owners of other breeds seeking placement assistance, who want to surrender their horses as they feel they can no longer afford them. We have been asked to take in 4 TB's seized by Animal Control.
In December of 2008 I answered a call from a Real Estate Appraiser in Pierce County: He had gone out to appraise a foreclosure and found two apparently abandoned horses on the property, without visible food and water. Yes-this is happening.
We cannot take in any more horses here at this time-We are full with a waiting list-and our current budget does not offer us the option of expansion without additional funding. As the pleas for assistance have increased, the number of adoption inquiries have trickled down to nearly nil.
Rescues are now often finding that they must fulfill an often lengthy sanctuary function throughout this recessionary period. This is especially true if any of their residents are, perhaps, less than "perfect" show prospects.
I just returned from a trip to southern California searching out horse properties. Against all apparent odds and media economic predictions, we are determined to go forward: Our goal is to expand our mission with a true sanctuary in a warmer climate. California also sports a large population of sport horse performance and pleasure enthusiasts.
While so many legitimate rescues and sanctuaries that do committed and fantastic jobs every day are struggling right now to raise funds, it sadly appears there are those who are less than caring and scrupulous: When I read this article about Dancing Star I was amazed. I oughtn't have been. Over the years we have taken in starved and neglected horses from people whose socio-economic status and education might have been thought to include a sense of stewardship. Yet, I have seen many more people put their companion animals at the top of their priority list. Just such a caring person contacted me recently: She is going through a divorce, downsized at work, and desperately concerned that she might have to seek rehoming options for her dogs. Yes, we are a Thoroughbred Horse Rescue-but this type of call is truly indicative of this place in time. It now turns out that her dogs will be able to stay with her.
In the process, she shared an interesting concept: The Adventurers Club has a good idea about what just one dollar can do-one person at a time, one charity at a time.
As so many people who call us now never thought they would have to ask for help, I would challenge everyone to be pet-proactive: Select a pet charity or rescue/sanctuary you like-a cause that calls to you. Involve your friends. Call and talk to the organization, visit, and/or ask for references. Carefully choose an organization that resonates with you.If you cannot adopt an animal at this time, then syndicate your caring-pool your resources and help sponsor one.
Chez Chevaux currently has two resident thoroughbreds ready for adoption:
Elliott: Just now four years old, he will easily be 17+ hands when mature. Right now his hip is higher than his withers-he is busy playing and GROWING. He had three starts as race horse and showed no interest in racing. He is completely sound.He's loving and lively, a BIG inquisitive baby, but essentially mellow and logical. He will sequentially select the grooming tools for you from the caddy.SUPER athletic.
Cooper is 11 years old. He has past eventing experience but currently seems to prefer the arena: Lovely dressage movement and likes stadium jumping. Totally sweet and very sensitive: He is best suited to a quiet, soft, supportive and confident rider with an educated leg. He tries to please with every step he takes. Permanent Brand Inspection card.
All of our residents have their original Jockey Club papers and all are microchipped with ISO microchips on record with the Jockey Club.
We do have an adoption application process and we do establish reasonable and appropriate adoption fees. Chez Chevaux does not give away horses. We are committed to making the best permanent equine and human matches.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Of course, I read the book and saw the movie. Every time I'm at Santa Anita I always find myself admiring Seabiscuit's statue when I pass the walking ring. One of my favored books in my library is "The Fireside Book of Horse Racing", copyright 1963, which contains a wonderful compilation of short stories, vignettes, and my favorite sportswriting account to date: Grantland Rice's take on the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.
I don't know the Krantz Stable. I was glad to find Grantland Rice's copy from the book posted online.The pictures didn't copy well, but the text is as immortal as Seabiscuit in describing what it is that makes humans continue to fall in love with thoroughbred horses.