January 2018 Issue - page 6

Page 6
January 2018
EAST COAST EQUESTRIAN
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B
y Amy Worden
Over their combined racing
c
areers the trotting horses had
w
on almost $1.4 million.
At the final count, there were
4
0 standardbreds, mares and
g
eldings, ranging in age from 10
t
o 24. They were bred throughout
N
orth America - in Michigan,
N
ew Jersey, Ohio and Canada.
Big cash winners, slow
p
okes or unraced, they all ended
up in the same miserable fate last
tandardbreds Face a Tougher
Road When Careers End
month: two kill buyers’ lots in
central Pennsylvania.
Keeping them off the trailer
to a slaughter plant in Que-
bec would require upwards of
$30,000 just to pay the dealers.
That’s when the New
Jersey-based Standardbred
Retirement Foundation, the only
non-profit organization devoted
solely to saving the harness rac-
ing breed, got to work.
Spreading the word on social
media through its partner, the
Facebook group Save Our Stan-
dardbreds from Slaughter (SOSS),
the two groups made urgent calls
over the course of a November
weekend as the number of horses
grew from 38 to 40 and the clock
ticked toward shipping time.
In the end it was the largest
number of horses the foundation
had ever mobilized to save at one
time in its 28-year history.
“This was unprecedented,”
said Judy Bokman, who started
the foundation to try to stem the
slaughter pipeline for the breed best
known for its ability to trot at blaz-
ing speeds. To date she estimates
they have saved some 3,000 horses,
including 300 this year alone.
When they got word of the
group being prepared for shipment
north, the foundation and SOSS
volunteers put their heads together
to see what they could do.
“There were too many to
house,” said Bokman. SRF had
already has made permanent
homes for 156 retired standard-
breds, so Bokman knew they’d
need to secure foster homes
before buying the horses.
“Buying is the cheapest part,”
she said. Tens of thousands more
was needed to secure transportation
and stalls, buy feed and provide vet
and dental care for the neglected,
injured, ill or aged horses.
Bokman said she didn’t
think at least four of them would
make the 10 hour-plus ride to
the slaughterhouse alive. “They
would have had difficulty getting
on a truck and going through the
horrific trip to slaughter,” she said.
“That’s really the most upsetting.”
Standardbreds, as a breed,
suffer the cruelest fate. When
their racing careers are over
many are sold to the Amish who
value their speed and reliability
as buggy horses. They spend their
later years being driven hard over
paved streets until they break
down or are deemed too slow and
are sold at auction.
Thoroughbreds have a much
wider and stronger network of
advocates and policies to protect
them from ending up in the
kill pen, though as any auction
regular can tell you they still turn
up at New Holland and other
Pennsylvania auctions.
Some thoroughbred tracks
now implement a zero-tolerance
policy on backfield-to-auction sales.
Philadelphia Park imposes a fee on
horsemen’s winnings that goes to
a fund that supports retraining and
(Continued on page 10)
Over a November weekend, the Standardbred Retirement Founda-
tion raised more than $30,000 to rescue 40 standardbreds who had
been purchased by kill buyers. It was the largest number of horses
the agency had mobilize to save in its 28 year history.
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