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.