We're sorry, Dr Drip...
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Sandra Kyle and Lynley Tulloch, EndAnimalSlaughter.org
April 2019

The story of Dr Drip highlights what is wrong in the horseracing industry.

Horse Dr Drip
Dr Drip - Before and After...

Dr Drip was an American multi-stakes winner, a racehorse with an impressive pedigree, bred for big things. During his career he earned a barrel of money for his owners but when he was no longer profitable they got rid of him.

Many ex-racehorses go unceremoniously straight to slaughter at a fraction of their natural life span, but Dr Drip changed hands between owners until he ended up with Jermaine Dewayne Doucet Jr, an 18-year-old from an impoverished Louisiana community. The day he was discovered Dr Drip had no water and the pile of hay in his pen was molding and inedible. He was so weak and skinny that he didnít even have the energy to swish the flies off his tail, and his underside was covered with maggot-infested sores. The ex-thoroughbred was too far gone to save, and was euthanised the next day.

Dr Drip had been a magnificent specimen in his prime, a perfect example of equine athleticism. Yet even though they are large, strong animals horses are very easily hurt, especially when they are being whipped to run at dangerously high speeds on hard ground.

That racing hurts horses should be obvious. Those who think a day at the races is harmless are either uninformed, or donít care about horses. No doubt itís great fun for people who attend race meets in their thousands, wearing slinky dresses and stiletto heels, derby hats and bow ties, and sipping champagne. Itís an opportunity to see and be seen, get a little tipsy, and if youíre lucky go home richer than you arrived. Whatís wrong with that? Whatís wrong with having a bit of fun?

Thereís no problem with having fun so long as your fun does not hurt other beings. In horse racing as in so many other cases, we think nothing of exploiting animals for our benefit. Whipping a horse on to go at ever more dangerous speeds is just one example. Another, widespread in the industry, is to begin training horses at the age of just two years old when their bones have not stopped growing. Intensive training at this stage can cause tendons to break and bones to chip and fracture. Burst arteries is another injury that is more likely to happen to a juvenile horse. A number of racehorse deaths are caused by forcing a horse to perform on pre-existing injuries, which are not always obvious. Horses, like many animals, are very stoic. They could be in constant pain and you might not even know it. The problem of horse injuries and deaths is further complicated by the use of drugs . A racehorse who is laid off because of injuries is not profitable for the owners, so unscrupulous veterinarians and trainers administerdrugs to mask the effects, resulting in the injury being aggravated and worsened.

International animal rights organisation, PETA claim that studies show one in 22 horses fail to finish a race due to injuries sustained and that three thoroughbreds die every day in North America from race injuries. In the past eighteen weeks, there have been 28 horse deaths at just one racetrack, Santa Anita Park racetrack in Los Angeles.

Like many other racehorses, so long as he was winning Dr Drip was safe, but the moment he started finishing further back in the field he wasnít worth the effort, and was Ďretiredí. We often talk about Ďretired race horsesí, as if there is some form of animal retirement that compares to human retirement. There is not Ė itís a disingenuous way of creating the illusion that the animals we selfishly use get some kind of deserved rest after their hard work.

Letís set the record straight. A survey funded by the RSPCA in 2002-2003 in Australia found that standardbreds and thoroughbreds were exited from the industry for a range of reasons Ė including poor performance, ill-health or injury, or unsuitable temperament and breeding. The fate of many of these horses remains unknown due to no tracking system. Some get rehomed for other equestrian purposes while 6% of thoroughbreds and 17% of standardbreds get sent to the slaughter house.

horse slaughterhouse
Horse arriving at a slaughterhouse

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