The Horse

FEB 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Page 36 of 51

37 February 2018 THE HORSE bred for," he says. "The same is true with Thoroughbreds." Ultimately, Rosenberg says, most racing connections want their horses to succeed in whatever they do: "We want to see them be loved and well-cared-for and succeed in second careers." There are still questions from those out- side the Thoroughbred industry as to why breeders are producing so many horses if thousands of racehorses are already look- ing for new homes. And what happens to the horses that don't ever race? Jockey Club statistics reveal the num- ber of foals born in the United States has decreased by nearly 50% since 1990, when 40,333 foals were registered. An estimated 20,850 foals were registered in 2017. Rosenberg, citing Jockey Club data, says 71% of all registered foals make at least one start. As for the other 29%, "there are any number of reasons a Thoroughbred might not make it to the track," he says. "Among these are illness and/or injuries and soundness issues, lack of demonstrated ability—especially with fillies, because 'unraced' can be preferable to 'nonwinner' in valuing broodmares. "Colts, geldings, and mares with weak pedigrees who are sound will find second careers in the sport horse world," he says, "while there are sanctuaries that will take in injured horses not suitable for second careers." Pittman points out that the issue of unsound horses that won't make suitable sport or pleasure mounts isn't isolated to the racing industry. Still, it's a reality that must be managed. "Shipping horses to livestock auctions where kill buyers purchase the low-end horses is no longer considered respon- sible by a majority of horse owners or the general public," he says. "As an industry, we must keep up with the times. "In Maryland we are working on a mobile service that will assist owners in deciding whether euthanasia is the most humane option and helping them navi- gate the process," Pittman says. "It will also assist in rehoming horses through a statewide network of farms." He also believes there are opportunities for Thoroughbred horsemen's groups to act as liaisons, linking sellers and buyers. "As the market for these horses grows, more buyers go straight to the backside," he says. "CANTER volunteers have done a great job at many tracks, but with in- creased volume and more public scrutiny of outcomes, horsemen's groups are in a great position to serve their members with assistance in selling their horses." There's also room for more promotion of Thoroughbreds' versatility. "I would like to see even more empha- sis on marketing the Thoroughbred as an athlete," Rosenberg says. "They are highly intelligent, they are courageous, they have been handled every single day of their lives, they have been exposed to all sorts of stimuli, they have shipped all over the place, they are willing and eager to please, which makes them the perfect horse for almost all disciplines." Paulus says there are always OTTBs waiting for new homes and, so, room for individuals to get involved, be it network- ing between sellers and potential buyers, funding retraining organizations, or rehoming horses themselves. There are still horses that "fall through the cracks of the marketplace," Pittman adds. Aftercare organizations that find themselves with these horses—ones that are injured, ill, neglected, or otherwise mishandled—aren't doing easy work, he says, and need support. Likewise, there's opportunity to keep horses from falling through the cracks in the first place. One way is simply through ID methods. While Thoroughbreds have long been assigned individual tattoo num- bers, The Jockey Club began mandating microchips starting with the 2017 foal crop. This will make identifying horses before races easier, as well as help with traceability after retirement. Take-Home Message From when the Thoroughbred was undeniably king to the current season of resurging popularity among sport and rec- reational riders, racehorse aftercare has been—and remains—a topic of great de- bate and discussion. There will always be more work to do, but industry members and organizations have helped soften the landing for countless Thoroughbreds once they've left the track for the final time. Our sources agree on one element that's still driving the effort after all these years: a love for horses. "In the end," says Rosenberg, "we are all horse lovers and want what is best for the horse. Every person I have worked for since I was 12 years old has stressed the importance of our No. 1 priority being what is best for the horse. We recognize that taking care of retired horses is our ethical obligation, and we are working hard to do it." h In the end we are all horse lovers and want what is best for the horse. … We recognize that taking care of retired horses is our ethical oblication, and we are working hard to do it." DAN ROSENBERG ISTOCK.COM The Jockey Club began mandating microchips starting with the 2017 foal crop.

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