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.
Written by PETA
In 2002, the 1986 Kentucky Derby champ, Ferdinand, was slaughtered after his breeding days in Japan were done.
Fast-forward to 2009: Two more horses, Charismatic and War Emblem—Kentucky Derby champs from 1999 and 2002 respectively—may also face slaughter as their usefulness to breeders comes to an end.
After breaking his leg in the 1999 Belmont, Charismatic was sold to breeders in Japan. His value as a breeding stallion has dropped dramatically (to approximately US$5,000), and he has been moved to the lowest-ranking of breeding farms.
Just a few years ago, horse-racing fans cheered as Charismatic and War Emblem ran away with top prizes at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Now, PETA's most recent undercover investigation shows what could be in store for these once-celebrated stallions and thousands of other horses sold into the Japanese thoroughbred industry.
Each year in Japan, more than 20,000 horses, including many horses once used for racing, are slaughtered for dog and human food. This video shows the slaughter of a young thoroughbred. As stated in the New York Times, "The video is disturbing. It shows in graphic terms what happens to the unfortunate thoroughbreds who become spare parts in a contracting industry."
You can blame the U.S. horse-racing industry for the carnage. It routinely breeds tens of thousands of "surplus" thoroughbreds every year, then sells thousands of them to breeding facilities in Japan. More than 2,000 U.S. thoroughbred horses and breeding mares have been shipped to Japan since Ferdinand was slaughtered in 2002.
Just last year, Americans watched in horror as racing filly Eight Belles suffered fractures to both her front ankles and was euthanized just moments after running the Kentucky Derby. How can anyone not be disgusted by the shuffling of thousands of horses off to Japan and into slaughterhouses?
Join us in defending former Derby and Preakness champs Charismatic and War Emblem—and thousands of other thoroughbreds. Demand limits on breeding and a ban on the export of horses to Japan.
Written by Karin Bennett
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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.