From time to time it is probably kind to give one’s detractors further evidence that one is seriously deranged.
October in Zimbabwe has been described as suicide month and this year the heat has exceeded expectations. Main topics of conversation, in some cases the only topics, cover rising prices and lack of water and electricity. If you are into racing add in the shortage of horses, rising costs and so forth and so on.
So, I was thinking this would be a good time to set up an impregnable trust/account and start raising money towards a sanctuary for needy ex-racehorses. I am only sorry we didn’t do this years ago when the industry was flourishing but better late than never.
This year horse racing has attracted serious flak, worldwide, and it is easy to understand why people with no insider knowledge would like it to be banned. Racing needs heroes not horror stories and there have been plenty of those emanating most recently from the United States and Australia. The media has been blamed for circulating these tales, but that is what the media is meant to do. Animal welfare is important and when cruelty in various forms exists it should be exposed.
Most racehorse owners care about their horses and if they can’t provide for them after racing, they make sure they are suitably re-homed or move on to other disciplines. However, horses change hands, the original owners lose track, and that’s where many of the horror stories begin.
Fortunately, in Zimbabwe, we are not big enough to have instituted claiming races. Many former racehorses are absorbed into dressage, show-jumping etc, and there are pleasant places where horses can be retired if owners can afford the fees. But let’s not kid ourselves…there is always a dark side if we had the guts to investigate…and I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to behaving like an ostrich.
Good things can start from small beginnings. I wouldn’t dare suggest a 1% levy on all racing stakes at this stage of our game, but what about a small voluntary donation when your horse earns something? (I can almost hear howls of anguish reverberating across the land).
In some other countries government and related institutions contribute to similar causes (one day we might get there); someone, someday, might donate or share land; perhaps a person with undeserving relatives will leave a legacy for horses.
Let’s make a start. Please, financial geniuses out there, put your thinking caps on.
I know life in Zimbabwe is depressing at the moment but just imagine what you could do with some unexpected millions – that will cheer you up – and while you’re waiting to win the Lotto, or something, please consider what you could do, right now, in a small way, to help.
Photograph: Retired Racehorses Elite Racing Club