Story by Casey Laughter, Daily Flipz Staff Writer
As many as 20,000 horses were slaughtered in Japan in 2008, according to PETA. The act is a gruesome way to rid the world of excess horses when they are no longer useful to the humans around them.
In 2002, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner and 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ferdinand met his gruesome end, when he was “disposed of” in Japan. In terms used during that time in Japan, “disposed of” means that the horse is sent to the slaughterhouse when they are no longer useful. When the news finally surfaced, anger spread through those who had been connected to the horse.
"It's just disgusting," said Dell Hancock, whose family operates Claiborne Farm.
In 1992, New Vocations was founded to offer a safe rehabilitation center for furthering education of retired thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses who could no longer compete. New Vocations provides a safety net for these horses matching them with qualified individuals and following up on their rehabilitation and vocational training to ensure a successful transition. Their focus is on adoption versus retirement, believing that each horse deserves to have an individual home and purpose.
When referring to the experience with New Vocations, retired racehorse owner Lisa Wonley Peterson simply stated, “I loved it!”
Peterson was paired with her horse following an inquiry online about a horse who had been adopted before she could get to the facility to look at him.
“They described him as having a really goofy personality. He would put his head on people's shoulder as they went about their business at the farm. He just sounded like a total love-bug! I wanted one with a whole lot of personality”
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program recently received a donation of $50,000 from the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). The donation is to support the aftercare efforts at the Ohio facility, located in Marysville, OH.
“It is important to the Ohio HBPA that our retired Thoroughbreds be given a chance to thrive in a second career. We are proud to continue our partnership with New Vocations, an organization that began 25 years ago right here in Ohio to give our horses that chance,” said Dave Basler, Ohio HBPA Executive Director.
In 2016, New Vocations took in over 450 retired racehorses, 66 of which came directly from an Ohio racetrack or farm. Since its inception, over 6,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have been placed in qualified homes through New Vocations’ efforts.
Efforts to continue fighting for those who can no longer compete and need a safe haven continue. Old Friends in Georgetown, KY, best known for bringing home three Kentucky Derby winners from Japan (Silver Charm, Charismatic, and War Emblem), have partnered with the Japan Racing Association and various breeding farms overseas to transform the horrific death of Ferdinand into a beneficial relationship where the demise of the Kentucky Derby hero was not in vain.
There are other organizations, such as Friends of Ferdinand and the Exceller Fund, who continue to fight for the rights of retired thoroughbred racehorses. Friends of Ferdinand has a mission which is similar to any other rescue organization: to promote equine welfare by providing chances for second careers to retiring racehorses.
While there are multiple athletes who fall through the cracks, with the aid of increasing efforts by rescue organizations, fewer horses might suffer the same fate at Ferdinand.
Data Set: (According to the ASPCA)
STORY EDITED BY SPORTS EDITOR CHRIS POUNDS