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Big Brown Is Retired From Horse Racing

Written by PETA | October 14, 2008
turner / CC
Big Brown

It’s official: Just weeks before he was to race in the Breeders’ Cup, Big Brown has officially been retired from horse racing because of a serious foot injury. The 3-year-old horse, who earlier this year won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and who outran Eight Belles before she collapsed and had to be euthanized on the track after the Kentucky Derby, has now himself succumbed to the dangers of horse-racing. Honestly, Big Brown’s retirement isn’t even remotely shocking, given that horses who race are often forced to run before their legs have fully matured.

Unfortunately, retirement from racing for a horse who has developed injuries or is no longer fast enough to complete usually means a lifetime of breeding or a one-way trip to the slaughterhouse.

PETA immediately sent a letter to officials to ask that Big Brown be gelded and fully retired, not held at stud to breed and pass along the traits of a horse who has sustained several injuries throughout his racing career. You can view our full letter here.

Horse racing has always been a greedy, money-hungry industry with little regard for the animals it puts in harms way, so long as the horses continue to bring in the big bucks. Fortunately though, laws are changing to help protect these horses. Side whipping as well as “Snapper” whips, which are used in harness racing, have both been banned. Anabolic steroids have been banned from racing, and Maryland recently banned the use of all steroids. But we still have a long way to go to shut down all horse-racing venues and to remove these animals from lives plagued by injury.

Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky

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  • Janice Dickhaus says:

    I have seen the young broken down horses. Look at what we see with the best horses.For all theses horses at the top there are thousands who are at the hands of poor trainers and clueless owners.There must be some ways to breed fewer horses or have more credentials required to breed and work with horses.

  • Danie Labuschagne says:

    How do i look after a retired racing horse that don’t want to do exercicess any more he had a very bad back legs i was hoping that you can help me to get my hore sback to the way he was before i bort him.

  • Gabby says:

    Who understands you animal activist. I love animals and I am always trying to help the ones that need help. I was born and raised in the horse racing industry and I love horse racing. The majority of the trainers and owners care for the well being of the horse just like the owners and trainers of Big Brown. If the horses best interest wasn’t on their mind they would have raced him in the Breeders Cup. Since they didn’t shows that they care more about the horse that winning a real big race. Some one tries to do what is best for the animal but you people still attack. Why not say hey they did the right thing and took him out of racing. Another thing is that there are some people that do abuse horses but there is people that abuse cats dogs snakes monkeys etc. The one that is going to abuse is going to abuse. Because it’s horse racing doesn’t mean everyone is out to hurt these horses. Some of these animals get better medical treatment fed taken care of than the most people. My father is a trainer and I know many trainers that take great care of these horses. I understand that some horses do get abused neglected and we should investigate which ones they are and go after them instead of going after everyone that is involved in horse racing. I’m all for finding the ones that care more about the money instead of the horse. Trust me that really gets my blood boiling when I find out of someone one who has mistreated a horse. I would love to fit my size 7 and 12 shoe right up there samll little opening at the bottom of their fanny. Let’s do our job and investigate who these abusers are and send them to jail. Get theses abusers away from horses because horse racing can be a beautiful thing when you have the right people who CARE and LOVE their horses.

  • Holly says:

    Stud Life is not a Great life for a horse any who thinks it is does not know how the business works and how lonley and sad stud horses really are… Often the most successful race horses if they are not gelded earlywill be retired from racing at the end of their careers and kept as a stallion on a stud farm. The stallions will be used to sire future hopeful winners of races or at least to create a successful all around horse. Yet just because the horse has been retired to live life as a stallion doesnt mean the life is a good one. The life of a stallion can often be lonely and isolated as stallions many times cannot be turned out with other geldings because they are too aggressive and protective over their mares. The stallions may be kept alone inside for a majority of the time for this reason. This is not always the case but it does happen. For horses who are not successful or not kept as a stallion the prospects can be highly variable. Many times the unsuccessful horses are sold to auction where killer buyers then purchase the horses to sent to slaughter for foreign consumption. If this is not the case a rescue organization such as CANTER one popular thoroughbred rescue organizationwill take the horses in and attempt to find them homes. Other horses are purchased by people straight off the track in order to train the horses to excel in a sport like jumping or dressage. The horses are known as OTTBs or off the track thoroughbreds. Retraining a horse that has lived the formative years of its life at a race track can be a daunting task but many people take on the challenge each year. but most in long run end up at the slaughter house

  • Elaine says:

    Big Brown was retired because by the time his injury healed completely breeding season would have started and they sold breeding rights to him before his injury and part of the agreement they signed states that he is to start breeding mares in 2009. He was going to be retired anyway. He was just retired a little sooner than planned. Eight Belles injury had nothing to do with Native Dancer who was not an unsound horse. He won all his 22 startsincluding the Preakness and Belmont except one a second in the KY Derby. He had more starts than he would have today after winning such famous races. Eight Belles sire Unbridled’s Song retired with a fractured leg. She took after her sire. Native Dancer never had any fractures. He has been unjustly maligned.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Chelsea Yeah money certainly comes way before any consideration for the horse. They didn’t retire him for his own good. They retired him for their own good.

  • Chelsea says:

    Mike Read carefully. I didn’t say they retired him for his own good I said they would not race him for his own good because they did not want the cut to get infected. Also I’m sure they are worried about losing their stud fees if some catastrophe was to happen but it is a business. Maybe not one anyone here agrees with but it is what it is.

  • violabella says:

    I like a lot of what PETA does but I do not agree with their overall stance on horse racing that it should be abolished. That said I certainly hope that anybody who breeds to Big Brown does so with a mare with hooves of iron…. I would like to add that we forget that the horses going to slaughter are not JUST race horses. In fact many if not most! are stock breeds and draft horses. If you wish to ban horse racing because “most” of the horses end up at slaughter which is increasingly not the case you should also ask for a ban on halter horses and the like. Other breeds have just as many problems as thoroughbreds HYPP lethal white syndrome etc.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Chelsea Sounds like you’re contradicting yourself. If Big Brown is going to be “perfectly fine” why would the owners retire him for his “own good.” Unless of course they are worried about losing lucrative stud fees if he suffers a catastrophic injury by continuing to race.

  • Chelsea says:

    This was not a very serious foot injury. Any horse could have stepped on his leg. I horseback ride and I have a horse that has a swollen leg now because he kicked himself while out in pasture. If Big Brown wasn’t going to be retired anyway after this race the CUT which is exactly what it is would have been left to heal and he would have been and will be perfectly fine. He was only retired because for his OWN GOOD the owners would not race him with this cut. As for the comment about his legs not being mature this injury had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with that. And the reference to Eight Belles has absolutely nothing to do with Big Brown’s being retired.

  • Grace says:

    Siobhan I think I made it clear that Big Brown’s ingury does not justify the abuse of some horses in the racing indsutry? I am merely remarking that the article gave me the feeling that PETA is saying that because he was a racehorse and if he wasn’t a racehorse this may not have happened. The racing industry has it’s faults and 9 times out of 10 I would probably agree with you in the matter of horses are treated. Many times these wonderful creatures are forgotten and hurt once their racing days are over. I believe that racehorses should be allowed to start racing once they turn 5 and that perhaps we should have an age limit to ensure that no horse to old or young is raced. I agree that whips shoiuld be either banned or regulated. I am in love with the race track which recently stated that any trainer who has neglectedsold a former race horse to a slaughter house will not be allowed to set foot on their grounds. There are things that can be changed within this industry I believe that Europe has a different stance on horse racing and perhaps some of their policies should be transfered over to ours but when people call for the racing industry to be shut down I don’t think they think about the consequences. First off what are we going to do with all the racehorses? Even though slaughter has been banned within the US thank you to everyone here who signed the petition that helped get the bill in motion! there would be NOTHING to prevent these horses from being shipped over the boarder to be slaughtered. Secondly unless you have worked with exrace horses and I mean an horse who has his lip marked and has racing papers you will never understand that racehorses are never easy to train and most of them have a harder time adapting to the life of backyard horse. They have been embedded with the instinct to RUN. So in my mind you can choose risk the slaughter of thousands of horses or reform the racing laws and empose stricter regulation which will save the lives of these wonderful creatures and give people a chance to see the great thoroudbred doing what it was created to do run. Just my two cents. Disagree or agree I don’t care.

  • Q. says:

    Quick question why is it that there was no huge boycott of horse racing by PETA before Barbaro’s acccident? Horse racing has been around for hundreds of years…why now rather than before?

  • Alicia says:

    Rabecca How much do you know about horses? How long have you been around horses? Are you a trainer? Do you show? Not every one treats horses as badly as the people who abused your two rescues there are alot of good honest people in the horse industry. Alicia

  • Angie Murray says:

    PETA You can NOT breed injurys into your offspring. Big Brown has had his share of them and any GOOD trainer or owner do not run their horse if they know there is an injury. When they do run injured it is as equal as a hang nail for humans. You can not judge all trainers and owners alike.

  • Rebecca says:

    Alicia As an owner of two rescue thoroughbreds I will say that what has happened to Big Brown does NOT happen to any horse. Racehorses are seldom stressed to levels that are appropriate to their bone age and their injuries are often unique to horses that are worked too hard too fast. Alsothe condition of my rescue horses that came off of the slaughter lot was appalling teeth protruding through their cheeks untended major injuries hundreds of pounds underweight covered with ticks and infected in parasites and I will forever consider this sport and industry the cruelest of them all. Rebecca

  • Siobhan M. says:

    Grace What I wrote in response to Alicia is exactly what I would write back to you. Your horse may have cut it’s foot through no fault of your own but how does that justify equine abuse in the racing industry? It doesn’t.

  • Grace says:

    Siobhan Just yesterday I walked into my backyard barn and found that my own horse while running the paddock had cut himself by clipping his back hoof over his front hoof the cut was about 2 inches deep and he had done it all on his own while galloping in the field. This wound is very similar to Big Browns wound and my horse is basicly retired in my backyard and used for casual trail rides. Unfortunatly when a horse runs whether its on a track or in a paddock he can trip over his own feet or clip himself it doesn’t matter whose riding or what the turf is any horse CAN hurt himself like that. Yes perhaps the racing industry is corrupt in some ways but an ingury like this is nobodies fault don’t start blaming people for the horse taking a bad step. Grace

  • valerie says:

    Thanks again PETA for keeping the spotlight on the inherently cruel and greedy “sport”. The only reason that the druggie trainer is retiring him is because he can’t make money off of him at the track anymore. We need to keep in mind all of the no name horses who don’t run fast enough who will be crammed into a trucks and driven to Canada or Mexico to be inhumanely slaughtered.

  • Simone says:

    Horse racing is so terribly cruel. So many of the horses have back injuries severe injuries in the spine which do not show up unless xrayed. Spinal injuries are due to the fact they are ridden well before their baby bodies are mature enough to cope…. the spinal discs get worn down to nothing as they are not mature and this means they have no discs left to cushion the spinal bones and the spinal bones end up grating on each other of course very painful condition. This horrible injury happens because the horses are ridden before they are old enough for their bodies to be able to handle it. A horse who has this injury can not tolerate being calmly ridden because it is too painful when ridden they will act up and seem like a crazy out of control horse. This behaviour effects their life once they are retiredif they are not slaughtered first They will act up and not be a easy ride for their owner! These poor horses are destined for a life of pain even if retired they will be ridden and thought of as a out of control horse who acts up a lot.if the owner never gets a back xray to check for this injury. If the horse acts very out of control and hard to ride then many owners end up sending their horse to the slaughterhouse. Often even if this injury is found with an xray they are still PTS or sent to the slaughterhouse as most horse owners dont want an un ridable horse. Horse racing is very cruel it causes many injuries that are a death sentence for the horse.

  • NT says:

    That’s exactly what I thought that he would be sent to slaughter up here to Canada “No country for horses”!. I hope Peta can stop it.

  • Siobhan M. says:

    Alicia The fact of the matter is that it didn’t happen to any horse in any situation. It happened to a horse that was forced into an industry of greed and corruption. It happened to a horse that had it’s beautiful talents exploited for entertainment. It happened to a horse whose regal nature was reduced to pathetic obedience. Please don’t justify the evil because the point was made through happenstance.

  • Alicia says:

    He stepped on his foot it could have happened to any horse in any situation. In fact I had a horse that I was riding a few years back that did the same thing we where just trail riding. Oh and if I was Big Brown and I was told I was going to be breeding the rest of my life I would SOOOOO happy! Alicia

  • SASHA says:

    MAY GOD LOOK AFTER BIG BROWN. I pray he will not be harmed any longer and can live out the rest of his life in peace with a loving family. And with other horses that have been rescued!

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