Last year I was contacted by first time author Joyce Anderson, who was researching and compiling information for her first book on horse racing. “The Fancy Hat Veneer,” is the result of her research; it is a compilation of information proving the undeniable responsibility the racing industry and Thoroughbred breeders have for thousands of racehorses being sent to slaughter every year. Joyce chose the title because, for many horse racing fans, fancy hats have become a fashion statement by women attending famous races such as The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The fine clothing of the spectators is the biggest tradition in thoroughbred horse racing, while the brutality and horrors of the racing world are kept from the public….well hidden by “The Fancy Hat Veneer.” As we know, a “veneer” is a thin layer of wood that covers what is under it, so the actual commodity itself appears more refined and polished.
The book is a broad stroke collection of articles, blogs, reports, statistics, and personal stories from the world of Thoroughbreds, horse racing, and breeding. Selected articles take the reader behind the scenes to the world the racing public never has the opportunity to see and generally does not hear about – the underbelly of racing, breeding, and the journeys of racehorses before, during, and after their brief careers.
If you would like a bit more insight into the book please visit www.thefancyhatveneer.com where the book can also be purchased online.
Synopsis By Chapter
(as written by Joyce Anderson)
Chapter 1 – A Bit About Horses, A Bit About Thoroughbreds
Horses have been an integral part of our life and our survival since rehistory. They have been warriors, workers, allies, companions, protectors, explorers and even teachers and therapists.
Horses have died on battlefields, transported goods, carried our families, moved canal barges, couriered mail, pulled fire engines, provided transportation and plowed the fields.
They have performed every task we have asked of them. They have more than earned the right to a full life.
Chapter 2 - The Story of Two
Press Exclusive’s journey and photographs are reprinted with permission of Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds who intervened and pulled her from the gates of hell to safety and Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates who provided Press Exclusive with a safe forever home. Her story is not an unusual one for Thoroughbreds. However, the end of her story is unusual. She is one of the lucky ones. The particulars of how she was discarded and the severity of the injuries she sustained are an unforgivable occurance.
Philotimo’s journey from the race track to emaciation took just six short months. His glory days on the track were over and there was no place for him anywhere.He was “free to a good home”. He was given to a good home and starved at that “good home”. Then the “good home” tried to sell him for $2,500, which would be 100% profit. Rescued by Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, “Timo’s” story is reprinted with permission of Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, Old Chatham, NY
Chapter 3 – The Thoroughbred Breeding Industry
Individual Thoroughbred breeders can “produce” a few, a few dozen or few hundred foals each and every year. This is done with the full knowledge that approximately 70% +/- will not have the opportunity to live their full life, the majority will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race. This is of no concern to the breeder. Their job is to crank out as many as they can. In fact, the Thoroughbred breeders want to increase breeding numbers and also want more funding for that purpose. They have no conscience.
Chapter 4 – The Racing Industry
Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to catastrophic injuries sustained while racing. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown while racing.
Young thoroughbreds die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing.
When Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.
Chapter 5 – Horse Racing Wrongs 2013
Horse Racing Wrongs is a blog by Patrick J. Battuello who meticulously documents deaths and injuries of thoroughbreds on America’s race tracks. The entries are not Mr. Battuello’s opinion; he is simply documenting what occurred. They are unalterable facts. Each death occurred on the race tracks while the crowds cheered.
This chapter contains just a few blog entries for the recent 2013 racing season. There are several hundred additional entries you can read for yourself on www.horseracingwrongs.com.
Patrick J Battuello has been writing on animal-related issues for several years now. His blog, “Animal Rights,” debuted in the Times Union (Albany NY area) in 2009. It was the first of its kind in a Capital Region mainstream publication. In addition, Patrick has written for both the Albany and National editions of the Examiner, and has maintained three separate independent sites.
Chapter 6 – Horse Slaughter
Before we even discuss slaughter you should know how horses are transported to the plants. Horses are usually transported in stock trailers, which are open without compartments. All types of horses are together; old, young, babies, sick, injured, pregnant and blind. Thoroughbreds, work horses and miniature breeds are loaded on the same trailer. Those that are injured, too small or too weak to withstand the long trip are trampled. When the trailer arrives at the slaughter plant those that have been trampled or are down are dragged out with a chain wrapped around their neck or a leg.
Horse slaughter is a savage, cruel, violent and barbaric solution to a man made problem. It is horrific, excruciating and brutal. Nothing about it is humane.
Chapter 7 – What About The Other Horses
In my opinion horses are the most brutalized, abused and mistreated animals. Maybe it’s their size or maybe it’s their beauty that makes men need to dominate, control, brutalize, harm and torture them. There is something very deep, very dark and very, very primitive still lingering in our un-evolved psyche.
We live in a society where people are emotionally dead. Perhaps it’s the internet or social media which has removed us from any personal sensitivity to horror, blood, guts and gore. Thanks to all the groups within the media industry (TV, films, computer games, etc) we have become immune to violence. We can witness the most appalling atrocities first hand and there is little or no reaction. It barely causes a ripple.
Chapter 8 – In The News
The “In the News” chapter could have been filled with a ton of recent horrific articles. Sadly there is no lack of appalling stories related to horses. If you are inclined to read more the internet puts every news agency in the world and their archives at your fingertips.