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Gold, the ex-racehorse
Posted 1 March 2005
Gold - or Line of Gold as he was known in his racing days - was foaled at Bluegrass Heights Farm, USA, on 20 March 1982. He stayed there until sold in 1983, before training with Robert Armstrong of Newmarket.
Whilst with Armstrong, Gold ran eight times. He finished second twice and third once. This was the beginning of a career of modest achievement that lasted until 1989, mostly in Ireland.
Unfortunately, sometime during his career Gold suffered the loss of an eye. It was not this injury, however, that ended his racing career. His last run was at Newton Abbot on 29 August 1989 before he suffered a dislocated foot. Gold was sent to Bransby Home of Rest for Horses in 1991 by a veterinary hospital which had received him from a trainer based in Scotland. Today, he lives a much happier life out in the quiet fields surrounded by his many friends. He enjoys being fussed over.
Although Gold is one of the lucky racehorses, he is still proof of the cruelty and neglect present in the horse racing business. Although he wasn't brutally raced to death, he was still left to an unknown fate and if Bransby hadn't offered him a loving home, who knows what may have happened? Roughly 5,000 horses leave the industry every year - the same as the number who enter it - and only a small proportion live to enjoy a happy retirement.
Spiral of neglect
So what happens to the less privileged animals? It seems certain that many end up as pet food, are fed to hunting hounds or are exported or sold from owner to owner in a downward spiral of neglect. Because of their personal histories and temperament, retired racehorses make difficult 'pets', hence the tendency for them to be taken on and then quickly offloaded.
Despite the vast wealth of the racing world, it was not until 2000 that the British Racehorsing Board - in the face of mounting criticism - set up a scheme to provide funds for retired horses. Since then, it has made much of its project, Rehabilitation of Racehorses (RoR). Yet in fact, the amounts donated are pitifully small for such a wealthy industry and only scratch the surface of the problem. Carrie Humble, who runs the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre in Nateby, told The Guardian in 2002 that she was still forced to raise more than 70% of the funding she needs herself and turns away two or three horses every day. 'It's getting worse, not better', she said.
You can adopt Gold for £3 a year - contact Bransby Home of Rest for Horses, Bransby, Saxilby, Lincoln LN1 2PH, tel: (01427) 788464 or go to www.bransbyhorses.co.uk
For more information about race horses, including reports, videos and factfiles, see the racing section.
This article by Sam McCreesh (pictured above with Gold) is reproduced from the Spring 2005 issue of Outrage, the quarterly magazine sent to all Animal Aid members. To find out more about Animal Aid membership click here.