From the Executive Director's Corner Stall
People often ask me what Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary’s (FAAAS) position is on the horse racing industry. With all of hub bub in the media related to the racing industry particularly of late – READ THE PETA ARTICLE HERE
– and the Triple Crown races quickly approaching beginning next month, our Board of Directors recently had a discussion during one of our monthly meetings on this subject. We decided that this edition would be a great time to discuss what our organization’s point of view is on the “double edge sword of horse racing” and to dedicate this edition to our noble, athletic and majestic Thoroughbred breed.
Like many of you, our friends and supporters, I grew up with a love for watching a horse race. The thrill of the race, the speed, the glitz, the glamour, and the glory that often times comes along with the race. Thoroughbreds were imported into North America dating back to 1730. Today there are an estimated 118,000 or more foals registered each year worldwide. The Thoroughbred breed is known for its speed, agility, and athleticism and is used mainly for racing today.
I’ve personally been involved in rescuing horses since 2006. Though I’ve learned so much, and know more today then I knew during the first 40 years of my life, I still have so much to learn in my effort to educate myself about the horse industry, and the racing industry in particular.
Much of what I’ve learned has been disheartening to me. It wasn’t until 2006 when I witnessed the breakdown of one of the racing industries noble “greats” that I found myself researching, questioning, and wanting to know “what happens to these majestic athletes once they either break down or are no longer profitable to their owners and trainers?” This is what led me into horse rescuing in the first place.
In 2012 a reported 140,000 American horses were sent abroad to be slaughtered and make their way to dinner plates in Europe and Japan. Thousands of these were Thoroughbred race horses. This destruction of a noble animal causes me to ask myself why? Why do we continue to breed so many each year? Why
do so many owners and trainers think they’ve found the diamond in the rough, when statistics show that fewer than 50% of all race horses ever win, and less than 1% will ever go on to race, or win a graded stakes race such as the Kentucky Derby? It wasn’t until 2002 that Americans like me were beginning to understand what was happening to so many of our Thoroughbred athletes after it was discovered that Ferdinand, the winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby, was slaughtered for human consumption and served in Japanese restaurants on a dinner plate.
On average Thoroughbreds weigh 1,000 lbs. and their skinny legs must carry their large bodies, running at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. They begin racing before they are three years old and before their bones are even matured, leaving them at risk of injury and breakdown. Each year an estimated 700 to 800 of them breakdown on the track, oftentimes euthanized on the very finish line they’ve just crossed, sometimes placing, as was the case for the beautiful filly Eight Belles, who proved to have more speed than many of her male opponents during her 2nd
place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, which left her for dead. READ THE SHOCKING ARTICLE IN USA TODAY HERE
In comparison to all of the statistics I’ve quoted, very few of our Thoroughbred athletes make it to a life filled with love, retirement and green pastures to live out their days at organizations such as Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary. Although we realize that the entire industry isn’t bad, the happy endings are few and far between.
We will continue to work with our network of horse rescue advocates and with the racing industry to press for changes including altering the age Thoroughbreds can begin to race until their bones are fully developed, which typically occurs around the age of 5, READ THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG HERE
and with our legislators for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2013
- TAKE ACTION WITH THE US HUMANE SOCIETY NOW
. As an organization we hope the industry will finally take the daily breakdowns as a wake up call that track conditions need to improve, that some horses shouldn’t continue to race just so their human connections can squeeze another few hundred bucks out of them before illegally selling them off the backsides of some race tracks to the meat man for $50 before sending them off in crammed truck across our borders for slaughter; and that trainers need to stop over loading these horses with drugs, in effort to get them to perform better.
We salute the loving and caring professionals in the industry and we ask the Steve Asmussens of the industry to take a look in the mirror and either get out of the business or take positive action to improve their operations. Most importantly, start by providing for your noble athletes once their days on the track are over.
We look forward to the day when every Thoroughbred gets to frolic in the sun and enjoy the free roaming of green pastures, and children and volunteers doting on them as our beloved Foreveramber (“Amber”) and Abovethefacts (“Teddy Bear”) did, and as Twinko (“Hope”), and Crafty Cape (“Freedom”) do today.
With your generous support we can continue to provide for the many deserving Thoroughbreds out there. www.foreveramber.org
and click the Donate button.
My sincere thanks to all,
After the Finish Line, Hope:
A Thoroughbred Named Twinko Finds Rescue, Rehabilitation
Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary’s rescue success stories and anti-slaughter advocacy extend far beyond the confines of its pastures and the rescued animals that reside on our farm: Meet “Hope.” Born in 1996, the thoroughbred known on the racetrack as “Twinko” earned nearly $63,000 during her career. But in the world of thoroughbred racing, a fanciful name and respectable track record will only take a horse so far. On November 6, 2011, horse rescue advocates monitoring auction activities, witnessed a “kill buyer” making a purchase. In an instant, Twinko was on her way to becoming a startling, largely unknown statistic to the general public; one of over 10,000 American thoroughbreds exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter every year!!
Rescue efforts go into high gear when Michele Bolinger receives a call late that evening to help secure an immediate foster home. Making a secret deal with a meat buyer, Michele, assisted by a rescue volunteer, arranges to pick up Twinko in an abandoned parking lot the following night. Money is exchanged with a stranger that drives away before the horse is ever loaded on the trailer and another horse is spared an unspeakable end, finding temporary foster care with friends that rename her Hope.
Hope’s long, tedious process of rehabilitation from severe injuries and infection, and restoration to a healthy weight begins.
But her story doesn’t end here. In September, 2012, with her foster home no longer able to afford her care, FAAAS is once again called upon to find placement for Hope quickly, or risk having her sent back to auction. The stalls at the sanctuary are fully occupied, winter is fast approaching, and severe drought has created a shortage of hay and of funds. If Hope cannot be placed quickly, humane euthanasia may be the last resort. Operation Hope
is underway! A massive Facebook campaign is mounted to provide emergency food, transportation, shelter and care for Hope while the search for a permanent home continues. 48 hours and 362 Facebook shares later, Hope finds her forever home on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she now resides with equine friend Kahlua, and human friends, DJ and Cheryl. Under a First Right of Refusal
contract with Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary, she is now permanently safe from auctions, dealers, and slaughter plants forever.
While Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary has assisted in numerous rescues and placements to other caring individuals and organizations, our goal is not simply to adopt out these animals as quickly as they arrive. We want to know what they need before we consider placing them because finding each one a forever home is of the utmost importance. The First Right of Refusal
contract enables our organization to place and monitor animals when we are unable to offer them permanent refuge on our farm. We want to make sure that from the moment they are saved by FAAAS
, they receive the care and stability they deserve. Much in the same way, we think it is extremely important to find an owner that feels equally suited to the horse; we want all future adopters of FAAAS
horses to be perfectly matched. If you are interested in adopting a horse, please contact us at email@example.com
We urgently need your support to fulfill our mission of rescue, rehabilitation and retirement aftercare for the animals that need us!!
Deb Loesel, FAAAS Secretary and Board Director
Ways you can help
Please visit www.foreveramber.org
and click the Donate button. Please share our newsletter, “Like” and share us on Facebook, support our newest partnership by buying or selling on ebay to benefit FAAAS (see ebay Giving Works section for details!)
Volunteer of the Month Highlight:
Fond Farewell To Our Senior Helping Hands
As the weather warms up, us humans are not the only excited ones. Revere High School senior and FAAAS volunteer, CJ Apicella
, noted the horses reaction to the first day this year the snow melted.
“It was really sunny out, and I could tell the horses were happy about it. When I went to bring them back to the stalls for grooming, they started walking to the barn without me having to put a harness on them. Right before they went inside though, one of the horses, Freedom, looked at me, and then bolted right back into the field. He started rolling around in the mud, so I decided to take care of the others first and let him do his thing. About halfway through cleaning the other horses, I hear Freedom walk in to the barn, completely covered in mud. I'm not sure why, but I burst out laughing the second I looked at him.”
CJ believes this was one of those “you had to be there moments,” and he is definitely not the only FAAAS volunteer to feel this way. As RHS's seniors move onto bigger and better things, we feel it is pertinent to note our admiration for all the work they have done to help Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary. Without these volunteers, it would be much more difficult to get tasks done. Each senior came in and helped even after their necessary hours, and for that, we recognize the importance in thanking them.
The senior volunteers this year, including CJ, Nikki Henry, Kenzie Schultz, Kat Fenton, Andrea Huther, Tiffany Gibson
and Lindsey Mason
, all discussed that working with FAAAS started out as a chore, however, it soon became something much more fun and began doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
explained that she learned that since each horse is a rescue, “each horse has a different background and each need special attention.” FAAAS also inspired Tiffany to establish her love for horses even further by aspiring to rescue horses in the future.
explained that working with FAAAS gave her responsibility and patience, two attributes she feels were necessary in working with the horses. She commented that one of the funniest things that happened while volunteering included falling into a manure pile. “Let's just say, that wasn't fun!” Nikki noted. Although experiences like that may seem strange, Nikki feels that she has been able to “connect” and “really form close bonds” with the horses.
Each volunteer strongly urged that the experience gave him or her the opportunity to really delve into something that matters. Kat Fenton
demonstrated that the opportunity was a fun way to volunteer; she likes that doing something good can be interesting and fun.
expressed that FAAAS has helped her get closer to her career goal. Andrea hopes to become a veterinarian in the future, and she says volunteering has helped her gain more "experience and confidence" in working with animals.
While the graduating RHS seniors expressed their love for the horses and their volunteer experience, we feel that without them, so much of what goes on at Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary would be impossible. Their help is truly critical in the growth and success of FAAAS. We will all be very sad to see them go, however, we know their future and what lies ahead for them is very bright. Their service, work ethic, dedication, and love for the animals is something for which we will be forever grateful. Good luok Class of 2014!
As these seniors venture off, we hope new volunteers look up to these seniors as role models. If anyone is interested, contact Michele Bolinger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Gillette, Revere High School, Student Volunteer