Interesting article. I’m not sure how to feel about it.
Japan does something similar, though I don’t know the details other than that they pay to repair the injuries sustained at their facilities.
Why are you unsure about how you feel about it?
I’m unsure that the Stronach’s aren’t doing this to keep their track fatality statistics down, and their not taking the horses they “save” into after care, but relying on others to care for them for the rest of their lives is an issue as well.
Their having the horses signed over to them in exchange for the payment for surgery, in some cases, is a another concern.
I think my perspective on this is different than most people’s, having worked for two of the surgeons mentioned in the article in my youth.
What I found most interesting about the article is how the author made it sound like there is a bevy of concerns from horsemen yet not a single one of them felt they could voice them publicly. That’s a terrible position to be in.
Yet overall, I think this is absolutely the right move. It’s a win win for everyone. It’s also a win for the average, non-racing horse owner. This type of funding for orthopedic repair is going improve what we can do for all horses.
As for concerns that it’s just to reduce fatalities. Well, yeah. That’s not a nefarious goal.
It’s definitely a win for veterinary surgery but it seems like it might not necessarily be a win for some of the horses.
If the horse has a 50/50 chance of being pasture sound they’ll operate? The Stronachs will be creating pasture puffs and counting on someone else to take care of them for the rest of their lives. Aftercare is already an issue. There are not enough rescues/sanctuaries or private people to take on the horses that are only pasture sound as it is.
I can see why some people are concerned about being pressured to sign over their horses and/or to put them through a procedure and painful recovery just to improve the Stronach’s track fatality statistics.
If the Stronachs were committed to taking care of all of the pasture puffs for life, then I would feel better about their motivation. I haven’t forgotten about this (and I’m sure many others here haven’t either.) TB auction in Hemet, CA
We’ll see how it goes. I hope the plan is a success.
Believe me, @skydy. I remember the Helmet situation well. And the sale in AB. Yet I also remember how Adena was at the forefront of aftercare with their Thoroughbred Center program.
Not every decision the group makes is terrible.
Personal observation: horse people are extremely divided on the topic of spending money on hospitalization and surgery. It’s a total “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation because half of your peers are going to think you should have euthanized a horse over a pimple while the other half will never think you tried hard enough.
If a horseman’s aftercare plan is run until a horse has a breakdown, then euthanize, that’s beyond messed up. So the argument that the Stronach Group is adding to aftercare challenges by creating pasture puffs doesn’t hold weight with me. If you are involved in the race horse industry in 2021, you know darn well that horses won’t race forever and will need a home afterwards, regardless of their condition. Many of these procedures will return a horse to racing sound, so we are not talking about creating fields full of gimpy, high maintenance horses.
As to the horses experiencing “painful” recoveries, if it’s that painful (physically, mentally, etc.) you’re doing something wrong. The Stronach Group has a bottom line; they aren’t going to be paying to keep a horse in a sling for three months and racking up six figure hospital bills for a hopeless cause. The team evaluating these cases knows what they are dealing with.
I hope so. I hope this plan works out well and that horses will be able to return to productive happy lives.
I also hope that those that can’t be anything but pasture sound will find good homes that will keep them as pasture puffs for the rest of their lives.
As for the Helmet disaster, I’m not as forgiving. I’ll try to work on that.
Oh, I’m not forgiving. I’m still livid.
But I also recognize “the Stronach Group” is separate from Andy Stronach making a stupid decision with his dad’s support. The track management had nothing to do with that.
I think it is wonderful that they are helping make this not be a monetary decision and instead you can make the decision strictly on the horse’s benefit. That said, the horses can easily live another 20 plus years after they leave the track so we can’t just kick the financial decision can down the road. So it’s definitely a start but far from the answer.