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Friday, June 7, 2013

Perception is Reality

Of course, this is not true.  The problem is for most people, perception is the truth and that spells problems for racing.

Since I have been doing this blog and hanging out on something called Facebook, I have got to meet some standout people in the industry.  People who have a new pet when someone tells them they have a horse about to go to a dealer because they couldn't find a new home for their retired horse.  People who spend every waking moment with retired horses and sacrifice personal time once their 'paid' job is done, taking care of these pensioners.  People who feed their horses before they will feed themselves.  Those who have formed their own horse rescues, whether formally or not.  All who do good work basically in anonymity because the truth is good deeds are not 'sexy' with respect to the word getting out.

On the other hand, bad news spreads quickly and when it does, all of racing is evil.  The good people get forgotten or lumped together in the same group as the bad apples, or are dismissed as being the exception to the rule.  We can promote every good compassionate person in the industry and it doesn't matter; they certainly must be a minority and everyone else must be drugging or tubing their horses, selling them off to slaughter, treating horses as merely a widget in the drive to make money.  Yet for every person who is rich in this industry, how many trainers are there making do with old vehicles, skipping vacations, doing without (many) grooms to save money, sacrificing those niceties so they can be caring and training their horses eighty hours a week yet care for their families?

Let's not kid ourselves, there are bad people in this industry, the same way there are bad people in every industry.  Unfortunately, where most industries live and die on their own merits, racing depends on the government in some way or the other be it slot support or just regulatory and when government runs things, it means they respond to the whims of the people (or the public with the largest bankroll). 

The point is racing can't afford to have bad people because the bad people unfortunately drive the narrative when it comes to racing.  This is why the industry can't take a 'hands off'' approach when it comes to horse welfare, claiming  they can't tell people what to do with their horses.  I realize not everyone can keep their horses forever, but depending on a network of good hearted people without providing financial support is not sustainable.  The industry must finally get the courage up to demand swift justice (yet fair) when it comes to cheats for they will ruin it for those who play by the rules.  Racing commissions settling cases by having someone agreeing not to renew their license and set up shop elsewhere doesn't solve the problem, it has the problem moving elsewhere.

Perception is reality and you can talk yourself blue in the face trying to convince people otherwise.  We need to work towards making perception being the truth.

While the vast majority of Americans are against horse slaughter, the horse industry is not well served when the New York Farm Bureau rises in opposition to the bill in New York which basically does what New Jersey's law against horse slaughter does, bans the selling or transporting of horses for slaughter, which also was opposed by farm interests in New Jersey to no avail.  If racing horsemen had any sense in the Empire State, they would distance themselves from the Farm Bureau's stance.  Unfortunately, they likely will not.  Talk about shooting oneself in the foot.

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