Mixed in with the pulse-quickening excitement of this year Kentucky Derby was the heart-breaking sadness of losing a horse to injuries. The juxtaposed emotions touched everyone from jockeys to owners to fans.
There are those who are against the sport, citing animal cruelty, and raising the question of whether horses should be subjected to racing. While you decide which side you’ll take, read the following small sampling of the kinds of charities that operate to contribute to the well being of horses.
Based in Corning, California, The Mustang Project gives hands-on experience to youths who get to learn all about horses. Time spent with the animals teaches kids basic horse safety, feeding and grooming care, training and riding skills and about careers working with horses. This is all with the intention of increasing their empathy toward animals and people and instilling in them a sense of accomplishment.
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation opened its doors in Lexington, Kentucky in 1989 as a result of a merger between two pioneer organizations with more than 100 years of combined experience. The group funds studies that are concerned with horse welfare and providing a better quality of life for the animals. Projects include implementing an equine injury reporting system, and creating a welfare and safety summit. In 2007, the foundation reached its goal of funding $1 million in research in a single year. Funds went to 21 projects, including three devoted to the study of laminitis, the painful and often fatal hoof disease that afflicted 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro for much of his recuperative period following his injury in the Preakness Stakes.
Jolene’s Horse Rescue does just that; saving the animals from undisputable cruelties like slaughter. Every day horses are tortured and or killed for parts in the name of medical research. (There are eye-popping first-person accounts of some of this on the web site). Like many of these advocacy groups, Jolene takes in horse in sort of an adoption program. You can make donation or sponsor a horse and help out with care and feeding.
Georgina Bloomberg is the daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but she’s also made a name for herself and an Olympic hopeful, show jumping horse rider. In August of 2006 she created The Rider’s Closet, opening a way to share her life-long passion with other eager participants of the sport. The charity collects rider’s used clothes and equipment and donates them to collegiate programs, riding academies and other under funded organizations. Visit the web site to see who they’ve helped and where to make a contribution.
Spread out across the country are large communities filled with retirees, lounging and relaxing as they enjoy their remaining years. That includes horses, too. Lush, bucolic pastures await the horses who land at Fieldstone Farm. It’s an oasis where old animals get food, shelter from harsh weather and a chance to spend lazy days winding down. There are many similar sanctuaries that provide retirement services.