It seems that I have but three moods: pensive, pithy and pithed-off.
The thing that’s making me both pensive and pithed-off this morning is the reality that the facts about horse racing in America are greatly exaggerated. The Internet can be a terrible thing, and when hyper-emotional people are fed even the smallest nugget of half-truths–that small thing becomes so distorted that the original Truth no longer is visible, or even recognizable.
Obviously, I have nothing against being emotional. I’m one of the most emotional people on the planet–especially when animals are concerned. I cry when I kiss a horse. I cry when my cat snuggles up to me after she’s beaten me up with great satisfaction painted all over her lovely orange face. I laugh heartily, often to the point of breathlessness. And yes, I’ve been in love.
When I refer to “hyper-emotional” people–and God KNOWS I hate to generalize like this, especially against my own gender–but I’ve observed that the overboarding is on the part of a middle-aged woman who has a basically good heart, but who needs to Get A Life.
Case in point: whereas even 15 years ago, gossips depended on the phone or neighborhood chats to spread misinformation and unjustified rage–today, the one-billion-strong neighborhood of Facebook makes it possible to spread anger, lies and accusations like a contagion. Perhaps the place should be renamed, Facebola…
Last week a dear friend who’s a trainer lost a horse to a horrible medical situation. She’s still devastated. And yet–and yet–an idiot who doesn’t know her, who knows nothing about my friend–had the unmitigated gall to “share” an ode that I wrote in homage to her horse. Simply “sharing” an article isn’t a trash-worthy action, but then adding on her own editorial in which she accused my friend of wrongdoing–which she had not committed–brought the “sharing” to the level of libel.. And libel is a sin which can be cured not in a confessional box, but in a courtroom, for libel is illegal...
I can think of no one who handles more carefully the horses who are entrusted to her than my friend–and yet one of the hyper-emotional magpies jumped to conclusions based on nothing, because she “cared.”
And just yesterday I heard of a ridiculous “war” that’s playing out–again, on Facebola–over Jess’s Dream and Cozmic One, the children of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, respectively. The Great Cause for this war? That someone posted more photos of Rachel’s son than of Zenny’s son.
No, really. Is that not THE most idiotic thing you’ve heard this week? This year? I cannot fathom–cannot wrap my head around–the concept that ANYone would start an argument because someone else posts one more picture of a particular horse than of another horse. Wake up, people–snap out of it. Children are starving in Ethiopia–how does your little war compare to that hard Truth?
So I’m angry this morning because horse racing has taken a beating–still is being battered about–by various media, and no one seems to be very interested in the actual, oh, you know–Truth.
YES, horse racing in America–no doubt, in many places around the world–has its problems. YES, we need to buckle down and make decisions, then STICK WITH THEM. YES, American racing has been wimpy in dealing with its problems, perhaps even to the point of negligence.
But the trashing is coming at the hands of media that are more interested in say, selling newspapers and making headlines than in finding the Truth and helping our sport to fix itself. I won’t name names, but a paper that rhymes with New York Slimes led the way last year by giving front-page ink to a story that was distorted at best, and little concerned about actual statistics and facts.
Toss PETA into the mix (a freakshow led by a Broad who’s probably certifiable)–and you have a lethal concoction. Recipe for a bomb: take one part Slimes, one part PETA–toss in just one single Facebola subscriber who has way too much time on her hands–and you have an explosion of both misinformation and vengeful, hell-bent-to-destroy rage. Now, multiply the potential for destruction by, say, 10 million and you have an army of dedicated racing haters, bent on the death of our sport.
These folks aren’t interested in actual Truth, for half-Truths offer the opportunity to twist opinion into whatever works for their agenda.
And the Truth–the underlying heartbeat of horse racing–the thing that started it in the first place,and has kept it going for millennia–is that at the foundation of the thing–there are more horse people involved who genuinely love their horses than those for whom shortcuts and neglect (benign or malignant) are a matter of course.
Every day of the Saratoga racing season–and all the rest of the year–I am surrounded by trainers, hotwalkers, grooms,owners, administrators, exercise riders, truck drivers and media people–who genuinely, truly, honestly adore the horses with whom they interact
Those who actually care for horses are in love. No one who’s in her (or his) right mind would get up at 2:45AM–every morning–to be at a barn by 4 or 4:30, to do manual labor all day long. Manual labor is hot, but then toss in insufferable heat in a stuffy barn. They go to bed at around 8PM, exhausted–just so they can get up and do it all over again the next day.
For 95% of the people who work directly with horses, this is called LOVE. They can’t imagine doing anything else with their lives. It’s not just that they’re farmers at heart,it’s that they must be around horses in order to be happy.
That other 5%–those rotters–are the ones we’re trying to weed out. And we will–we will sort through our problems, and make this sport as healthy as it can be for the horses.
The horses, after all, are the innocents in this whole thing–they should be handled with care, at all times. (Even a “mean horse” is mean for a reason. Humans aren’t the only beings with trust issues.)
The entire racing industry cannot and should not be handed over to the vipers who reside outside the gate, for their opinions mean nothing. They are no one. They don’t get a vote–and most certainly, outsiders should not be given a voice in the destiny of our sport.
They don’t care one iota about our horses, as they claim–they have their own agenda. The Slimes sells ink-on-paper, and PETA–well, every time PETA trashes horse racing or protests outside Churchill Downs–their donations skyrocket by millions of dollars.
They depend on the aforementioned hyper-emotional middle-aged babes who care. And I have no doubt that they care! I am a middle-aged babe who cares, deeply. The difference between us is that I look for facts before I make a blanket statement, and I realize that, to paraphrase GWF Hegel: between YOUR Truth and MY Truth…lies THE Truth.
If you know someone–female or male–who spends entirely too much time in front of the computer, posting rage-filled half-lies about horse racing, I ask you to do something. Ask that person to STOP. THINK. Google. Call someone before you accuse them. (Novel concept, eh?)
And perhaps your hyper friend simply can ask you–or me–or any good-hearted person who loves both horses and horse racing–to name people involved in the sport who genuinely love and care for horses. I can give you a laundry list of amazing, compassionate, caring horsemen and horsewomen, right here and now.
The thing is: if your friend who’t ask you to name good people in horse racing–or if they refuse to call someone before accusing them–then you know that they’re not interested in Truth, at all. Yes, it really is that simple.
No one loves horses more than I. No one wrestles with their conscience more often than I. I do know one thing: that if all we good people who are sincere in our obsessive love for horses left the sport–then only that 5%–the abusers–will be left. And that is unacceptable.
Horses are huge, muscular and strong. They concept of The Horse is an oxymoron, for that strength goes right up against the fact that horses must be handled with great care. With gentle hands and godly hearts. Horses deserve respect and love.
And yes, those who see them simply as a meal ticket, and who are willing to dope their brains out to achieve that–should be taken out and beaten. At the very least, they must be kicked out of the sport forever.
Find the good people in our sport. This is my challenge to you: this week, go out and find just one person in horse racing who is sincere, honest and in love with horses. (Hint: you won’t have to look very far, for we’re everywhere.)
Horses deserve our best, and there are more men and women who give that than who don’t.
But the haters–outsiders, with their own agenda and money to make from trash-talking–never should be taken seriously. (e.g., Yes, Virginia, that is a horse shoe. And yes, sometimes, for certain reasons–they ARE glued on.)
The same idiotic, negative energy that it takes to get pithed-off about Cozmic One being “cheated” by a photo poster–is the same pin-headed toxin that feeds the money-making machine that seeks to bring down our sport.
Together, with healthy, happy horses as our partners (and living evidence of loving treatment)–from the inside/out, we racing insiders and fans can grow a clean, beautiful sport that’s worthy of respect–all the time.
Extricating the cheaters and calming the fires spread by outsiders are Steps 1 and 1A. Let’s use our hearts first, then our brains and collective commitment second, to making this The Best Sport for Horses, Ever.
Once we deal with the negativity from without and from within–our love for horses, first and always, will guide us on the positive path toward the healthy sport that our horses deserve.