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Race Horse Industry Slow to Respond

     As printed in The Report March 26, the New York Times published a lengthy expose about problems in the racing of horses, both thoroughbreds and quarter horses, in their Sunday March 25 edition.  It reported that an average of 24 horses die each week at racetracks across America and approximately 3,600 horses died racing or training at state-regulated tracks over the last three years.

    According to the, "major industry organizations were slow to respond to the Times report."  Compare that industry's response to the response of our industry to critical articles published several weeks ago.

    This was the racing industry's response which was released by The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) on March 27 two days after the story in the Times.  The statement reads as follows: "Recent media reports have presented a sobering assessment of the safety and integrity of horse racing," NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop said. "The NTRA takes these reports very seriously because we know that thousands of industry participants consider the health and safety of our human and equine athletes and the integrity of our sport to be our highlest priorities."

    "Over the past several years, the industry has instituted a  number of significant saftey and integrity reforms, including such initiatives as the Equine Injury Database, the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.  Despite this progress, we must do more and move with a greater sense of urgency than has been demonstrated to date.  Toward that end, tracks, horsemen, regulators and other participants must consider all options for enacting nationwide reform in a more comprehensive, lasting way."

    This statement by the NTRA was released two days after the article ran in the New York Times and was considered "slow to respond."  Also, the day the article was printed, the American Association of Equine Practitioners issued a statement and e mailed all their members with information to answer any questions they might be asked about this matter.

    Contrast that "slow response" to the lack of a public response by our organizations despite calls from many in the industry.  Neither the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association or the Walking Horse Owners Association has stepped forward in any way to protect and defend the show horse.  TWHBEA has had executive committee discussions about a response but have elected to do nothing.  WHOA has been virtually silent.  Which leads to the question, do these two organizations support the padded show horse or does the industry need to look elsewhere?

       Out of concern, the Unity Committee hosted a conference call and voted to establish a Public Relations Committee made up of one member from each of the four organizations comprising the UC.  When this proposal was presented to  the TWHBEA executive committee along with a proposed set of by laws for the UC, it was not approved and they wanted anything drafted by the UC Public Relations Committee to come back to their committee for approval. 

    Both the Celebration and the Walking Horse Trainers Associations have approved the proposed by laws and authorized the public relations committee but nothing can be done until the other two groups respond and approve the by laws and/or the PR committee.  TWHBEA is arranging another conference call of their EC but WHOA will not address the matter until their regular board meeting later in April.

    The very future of the breed and the livelihood of all trainers is clearly in peril and the failure to respond by TWHBEA and WHOA speaks volumes.  The trainers have no choice but to step forward to defend their horse and livelihood and other individuals will hopefully join that effort.




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