Thursday, March 29, 2012
UW River Falls II
I did indeed make some mistakes while blogging about UW River Falls and their horse breeding program, for which I apologize. Specifically, I was wrong about Rambo's Smoking Hot being bred twice-- his sire bred two mares. It's still not clear to me whether Rambos himself was bred by UWRF, though you can clearly see here that he was consigned by UWRF. In addition, it's been made clear to me that a large number of horses for sale at the UWRF auction are consigned by others, not bred by UWRF. Again, my apologies.
I also stand by some of my statements.
- UWRF still sucks for breaking two-year-olds. Yes, racehorses are raced at age two, and yes, it does make more financial sense to get horses broke and sold off...but as one other commenter mentioned, that doesn't make it right. Most horses just aren't physically or mentally ready to be broke as babies (literally, since a yearling is about 7 years old in human terms, and a two year old is about 13). There are professional reports here, here and here that say so, and there are many more out there. The New York Times just published a lengthy article here on exactly how awful the racing industry is for horses at many US tracks...so when racing is used as an example of how horses should be used, it's sort of like using sweatshops as an example of how factory workers should be treated.
- UWRF still sucks for auctioning off unadvertised old school horses.
Poster JayGirl, a student at the school, commented that this is because UWRF doesn't even know which horses the school will dump until right before the sale. I confirmed this by speaking to faculty member Nathan O'Connor, who told me that they were "still figuring out" which lesson horses would be sold about a month from now, but there would be about 7 available. Of these, he said three would have "been around forever" at the school, and were super nice, calm, very well-broke old guys with soundness issues that just couldn't handle being ridden much anymore. I then asked him whether UWRF would ever consider a retirement program for these guys. He said, "We don't ever retire our horses," but instead try to sell them off before they become "totally unrideable." Well hey, maybe even after selling off their $1,000-$3,500 colts, charging $1,000 stud feeds and collecting tuition money, they don't have money to retire or euthanize a couple old schoolies...but then why not an adoption program, with reference and background checking, rather than selling to the highest bidder? Maybe, with "only" several dozen college kids and faculty members, they just don't have the staff?
I would also like to add to my rant:
- UWRF sucks for not requiring helmets.
Seriously, of the dozens and dozens of training pictures, I think ONE showed a girl wearing a helmet. Whether or not you personally believe in wearing a helmet, a state-funded school should be protecting itself, and thus taxpayer money, from lawsuits. These college kids are learning to train horses, on young horses that are not trained. That's what we call an accident waiting to happen.
-UWRF's website just sucks.
Part of the problem in researching any of this is that UWRF apparently never deletes anything online. Searching for current information on their horse program is a hair-tearing hunt through old sales lists, broken links, picture slide shows with no other information, and generic descriptions of the school. Okay, that's mostly just annoying rather than irresponsible, but it doesn't help the school's horses get sold.
UW River Falls isn't evil. I'm even willing to concede that they're not backyard breeders, and I apologize for calling them that. However, they're not responsible horse owners either. Until they are willing to do something for their old school horses, stop riding two year olds, and get a helmet policy, they won't be.