A few days before this magazine went to press, I read an article by associate editor Cindy Deubler and thought about October.
The year’s 10th month includes the Maryland Million, the West Virginia Breeders Classics, the Far Hills Races, champion-ship races at Belmont Park, the first day of the Breeders’ Cup and plenty of other big events in Thoroughbred racing. Other than Triple Crown time and August in Saratoga, October might be racing’s most glossy postcard.
But Deubler’s feature on the Foxie G Foundation and the plight of some Thoroughbreds it rescued, shoved aside the bright, shiny stuff for a moment.
We’ll run the article in a future magazine, but (in short) the foundation, a horse rescue created by Laurie Calhoun in Maryland, received a call two years ago about some neglected Thoroughbred mares. Their owner had acquired them for breeding purposes, planning to simply give away the foals in hopes of collecting breeder bonuses. It never really panned out. He didn’t follow the steps necessary for Jockey Club registration, he didn’t even plan for adequate care.
Ultimately, the owner came under scrutiny from authorities, charges were filed, the SPCA took in the horses and he was convicted of animal cruelty in Pennsylvania.
But that didn’t even cover all the horses he owned. There were more in Maryland in a similar plight. The result is a ghastly tale of Thoroughbreds left to fend for themselves in a field with no shelter, no visits from the blacksmith, no veterinary examinations and no care save for a sympathetic farmer who gave them some hay.
And that’s where Foxie G got involved. Some mares were pregnant. Some had foals by their sides. All were in need of food, shelter and basic care.
They needed human intervention, and got it.
Calhoun, her husband Jerry and a team of other Thoroughbred volunteers dove in. They didn’t wait for a study. They didn’t consider the economic impact. They didn’t appoint a spokesperson or schedule a meeting. They went to work.
They saved the horses they could, they did some investigative work to uncover pedigrees and race records, they contacted former owners, they worked with the foals, they found homes. Two years later, many are leading productive lives. A 2-year-old filly awaits Jockey Club approval to begin a racing career. A yearling colt was named grand champion Thoroughbred at the Maryland State Fair’s yearling show.
Remember the horses. I guess that’s the point of such a cautionary story.
They were bred for racing, for the sport. They can’t be abandoned. Owners and breeders must be responsible for the horses’ welfare. You can’t give your horse away and assume someone will care for it the way you did. You can’t simply wash your hands of an animal.
This magazine celebrates the Thoroughbred and the people who take part in racing’s big events. We get a chance to cover Thoroughbred majesty on the racetrack. We get the opportunity to profile ex-racehorses who get second chances in the Pensioners on Parade feature. We get to follow the career arcs of yearlings who top the sales, stallions who lead the standings, broodmares who produce winners.
But while you’re celebrating this month, think about Foxie G and all the other organizations doing good work out there. For theirs is a job that’s never finished.
The Foxie G Foundation holds its annual fundraiser Oct. 31, this year titled Witches, Whinnies and Whiskers. . .Oh My!, at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, Md. Contact Laurie Calhoun at (301) 667-2553 for information.