We are oft told by the apologists that horses can and do suffer and die from colic wherever horses are kept – that it’s not just a racetrack thing. (A similar argument is frequently posited for the proverbial “bad step,” but I won’t dignify dumb.) Therefore, they say, it’s unfair for me to call a racehorse who has died from colic an industry casualty. Well. A study conducted by Dr. Nathaniel White, professor of surgery at Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Virginia, identified risk factors for developing colic. There were but three that presented a “higher than normal” risk:

fed grain before hay at meals

horses in training for racing or eventing

horses confined to stall more than 12 hrs/day

Hmm.

Three Quarter Horses were vanned off at Sunland Park yesterday afternoon after running stakes trials: Mrs James (race 1), Swiss Fame (race 2), and Cartier N Capris (race 6). All three are but two years old. A reminder from equine vet Kraig Kulikowski:

“A two year old horse is the equivalent to a six year old human. Neither species is mentally or physically mature at this age. Asking a six year old human to be exploited as a professional athlete for economic gain would be considered inhumane. Exploiting juvenile horses for economic gain is equally inhumane. They are subject to permanent mental and physical trauma that, in too many cases, is catastrophic and even fatal.”

It’s called animal abuse.

Saturday at Aqueduct, 2-year-old Long Island Lee fractured a leg and was killed back at the barn. The filly was trained by Rick Violette Jr. Mr. Violette has now lost eight horses in NY since 2009; at the times of their deaths, nary a one was physically mature.

3-year-old Snipe, 7/21/09, Aqueduct, “bleeding as result of pelvic fx”
4-year-old Air Space, 4/23/10, Aqueduct, “training”
3-year-old Sequoya Mountain, 7/16/10, Aqueduct, “fx pelvis”
3-year-old Too Big to Fail, 10/30/10, Aqueduct, “fx RH cannon bone”
3-year-old New Pais, 1/23/11, Aqueduct, “fx both RF sesamoids”
2-year-old October First, 10/15/11, Aqueduct, “adverse drug treatment reaction”
2-year-old Spurious Precision, 9/18/12, Aqueduct, “fx L knee”

Dashing Nic, two, was killed after finishing 8th in last evening’s 5th race (his fourth career start) at Evangeline Downs. The gelding was ridden by David Alvarez, trained by Robert Touchet, and owned by Clark Wayne Stout. Later in the Evangeline night, Jess Spicey, yet another 2-year-old running for the fourth time, was vanned off after winning her race.

Equine veterinarian Kraig Kulikowski (statement to the New York State Humane Association):

“A two year old horse is the equivalent to a six year old human. Neither species is mentally or physically mature at this age. Asking a six year old human to be exploited as a professional athlete for economic gain would be considered inhumane. Exploiting juvenile horses for economic gain is equally inhumane. They are subject to permanent mental and physical trauma that, in too many cases, is catastrophic and even fatal.”