Beating an (almost) dead horse

13 Jul

Why is Barbaro still alive?  He just underwent a three-hour surgery in Kennett Square.  He is on his sixth cast for his leg.  He’s got 27 screws in his leg now.  And he’s not feeling well.  What kind of life is that?  Why is the horse being forced to live in pain?  Here’s why:

We can’t let go.  Many people sent letters to their local newspapers writing about the courage of Barbaro, how they will miss him, etc.   Others sent him emails…and there was minute after minute of coverage on television, especially locally.  At one point after the Preakness, it led the local Philadelphia news, ESPN’s Sportscenter, and was prominent on all the cable news channels.  No doubt the draw of ratings played a role in this, but people in general also need to transfix on a situtation that does not affect them directly in order to make their own lives feel better in a way, or to focus on something other than their own affairs.  They latch onto a public event such as a famous, beautiful (in our collective view) creature who was trained locally.  None of these even affected us, instead the outcome of Barbaro’s health affected people with a direct interest in it, such as its owners.  They can’t let go either, perhaps rightfully so, but it hurts the animal and creates a spectacle of the prolonged life.

Instead of allowing this animal to die quickly and without pain, we force it to go through several months of pain and degradation because we can’t bear to see it die.  All things change, all things die.  Remember him for his grace or whatever one wants to remember him for, but please let him die in peace.


6 Responses to “Beating an (almost) dead horse”

  1. Kristine July 13, 2006 at 2:56 am #

    Do you know the current condition? Has the fever, infection subsided, or does Barbaro really need to be put “down”?
    The reasons for taking things to the extreme are by far more than the racing community’s love of a worthy animal. One, if he can make it…so can another horse. I’m certain, though I haven’t checked my facts, that there are techniques used on Barbaro that could set the pace for future trackside emergencies. Of course an owner wants to save the career, future profits at stud, as well as preserve the emotional and physical well being of the horse. You speak as if this was some tortured event prolonged for the pleasure of others.

    I hope you never break a leg that requires umpteen pins. And I certainly don’t want you to be put down if you can’t be set out for stud at a good price. But for all I know, since this is the first I’ve read of your posts, you might be a woman.

  2. Chris July 13, 2006 at 10:31 am #

    The thing is in a bad way right now and horses can’t move around and live without a leg the way we can. That’s just the way it is.

    Far from ‘being a woman’, whatever that means, I simply think that we shouldn’t prolong the lives of animals for our own good(whether it is money or pleasure or what). Of course the owner can do what they want, but that doesn’t make it prudent.

    I personally don’t care about horses, but so many people do that it seems weird that they also want to keep it alive, even though it’s in bad shape. It seems selfish for selfish-sake and nothing more. I admit, it’s an odd take for me, somewhat, but this is perhaps because animals really don’t have as much control over their own lives as we humans, and so I view them a little differently.

  3. rockwatching July 13, 2006 at 11:10 am #

    Amazing how selective people can be with their affections. Most people dont really care about one animal or another. Though it may offend most of those animals are just money making machines. I have a co-worker who buys and sells horses. The idea (his idea) is to buy when the animal goes lame, a common thing it appears when the ground hardens up,(winter) he doctors the animal to better health, it wins a few races and then he resells it. Had a problem recently when his wife and daughter got attached to one of his purchases, it became a huge emotional outbreak when it came time to part with the animal. Most of these animals are never cared for beyond the physical needs to keep them healthy, he tells me that once they are no longer producing many just end up as battered old nags pulling carts for Menonites or at the pet food factory once they pass their ability to pull their weight. Pretty sorry decline from top of the heap to dog food!

  4. kiranoel July 13, 2006 at 6:23 pm #

    The whole situation is sad, no doubt.
    But I can’t help to find it humorous that we are so capable of showing this amount of compassion to a horse, more so than we do in human cases.
    Anyway, as for why I added you to my blogroll…I find your blogs fun and refreshing to read. I’m addicted to the web, and love reading random blogs.


  5. John Salmon July 13, 2006 at 8:02 pm #

    Of course, it’s all about economics-if Barbaro survives, he will have great value as a stud horse. This will be more than reasonable compensation for his current suffering.

    Unless he’s gay.

  6. Sam Walton July 14, 2006 at 11:37 pm #

    You all seem so sure that he is suffering so badly, so when was it that you actually saw him in this state? Some animals like humans have a strong will to live, for some a little pain is worth life. Plus the media is all over this horse, do you actually think they would not publicize the hell out of the it if he was actually suffering. An animal cruelty article would bring more public eye then the animal’s current state. Learn to critically analyze, stop letting rumor bullshit make up your mind. We have access to the fuck internet, if you don’t know something for fact find a RELIABLE source (not like this bullshit article) and use it to make your own judgment on the situation.

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