Much Ado About a Horse...and a Big Pile of Money

I love horses. They are graceful, regal, beautiful, powerful creations of God, strong enough to literally crush our puny forms, but gentle enough to be handled (and led) by a child. A galloping herd of horses is one of the most iconic American images. We associate the horse with strength, speed, freedom, virility, and nobility. I think I've made my point sufficiently, we place a high importance and value on the horse, perhaps only second to the dog (who in modern America is sometimes prized above our children). But at the end of the day we have to remember that it's just a horse.

For those that don't know, Barbaro (the winner of the last Kentucky Derby) was euthanized this morning. The past eight months have been filled with surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure, all in the hopes of healing Barbaro, sort of.

See, Barbaro, as a Kentucky Derby winner, and one of the most celebrated horses in recent memory, was worth quite a lot of money. Sure there's the prize money, and betting on the races, but far greater than the payoff of either of those was the possibility of breeding him. Studding Barbaro out would have resulted in a ridiculous amount of money for his owners. They also would have been able to purchase or trade for at least a few of his offspring resulting in a whole new generation of race wins and eventual breeding fees. He was their golden goose.

Barbaro's accident put all that into jeopardy. You would think, in today's scientifically inclined society, that the owners could just use some...artificial means to breed him, but (in a very blue-blood twist) race horses bred artificially are not worth NEARLY as much as one concieved the old fashioned way.

Let's all take a moment to consider this. Barbaro, a magnificent animal was forced to undergo painful procedures and difficult surgeries for the last eight months, in the hopes that he'd eventually be able to stand on his hind legs so he could breed, making obscene piles of money for his owners. This is (in my opinion) the definition of inhumane.

Saying goodbye to a pet (or any animal) is a difficult thing. We care about them, they are our friends, our companions, and our responsibility. When their suffering becomes great, and their hope of recovery slim, we have to give up our friend, and let go. Most of us have probably had a dog or cat put to sleep. It's not an easy decision to make. But it is the right decision. To do otherwise is selfish, especially when cloaked in the disguise of "caring for the animal". I have no doubt that Barbaro's owners loved him, as race fans all over the world did. It must have been hard watching his injury and his obvious distress as he lay on the track. It would have been hard to tell the doctor to end his suffering, but if there weren't literally millions of dollars riding on those injured hind legs, wouldn't they have done just that?

What happened to Barbaro in the past eight months has been a travesty. It's sad, it's a little disgusting, and it's mostly just wrong. I for one, am glad it's over.