Written by Alisa Mullins
Some might consider Rachel Alexandra lucky. In 2009, she
became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness Stakes. The next year,
she was retired from the dangers of the track and training to live as a
broodmare—a female horse used
for breeding—on a farm in Kentucky. But motherhood isn't coming easily
to her. After the birth of her first foal, Jess's Dream, last year, Rachel
Alexandra experienced pain so severe that she had to be hospitalized. The birth
of her second foal last month was even more hazardous: She sustained life-threatening injuries
and had to have emergency surgery to remove parts of her large intestines, and
she just had another
surgery this week to treat an abscess. That is why PETA has written
to Rachel Alexandra's owner, Barbara Banke, urging her to retire the mare from
breeding before pregnancy or foaling kills her.
L.Burchfield | cc by 2.0
Many prize-winning horses—including Lady's Secret, Meadow
Star, Typhoon Tracy, and Urban Sea—have died after giving birth. Rachel
Alexandra's own mother, Lotta Kim, has a history of foaling complications: One
of her foals was born prematurely and died, and another died at just 2 years of
age because of wobbler syndrome. Lotta Kim rejected Rachel Alexandra, who then
had to be raised by a nurse mare. Nurse mares, who are used to produce milk for
orphaned foals and those whose mothers are being rebred, are routinely forced
into a cycle of serial breeding, only to have their own babies torn away from
Tens of thousands of
thoroughbreds are bred each year, often in assembly-line conditions like those documented by a PETA undercover investigator. Only a fraction of the
25,000 thoroughbred foals born every year will be winners, resulting in a "surplus"
of about 20,000 unwanted thoroughbreds annually. Many of these horses, which
can even include former
Triple Crown race champions like
Rachel Alexandra—and their offspring—are sold at auction and wind up in the
hands of "kill buyers" who ship them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
Surely, after earning more than $3 million for her owners,
Rachel Alexandra has earned the right to a peaceful, leisurely retirement that
is free of repeated pregnancies and dangerous foalings.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.