Friday, October 9, 2009

Peaceful Thinking on the Thoroughbreds

With the announcement of our President's win of the Nobel Peace prize for diplomacy and global vision during the first year of his presidency, the pundits have already begun to question the efficacy of awarding the prize when much of Obama's enactment of global change is still in the formative process. He has set the stage for sweeping diplomatic revisions, but has yet to bring many of them to fruition, both because of the relative recency of his move to the White House and because of the depth and complexity of the problems that threaten global peace. It's not surprising that there would be criticism of awarding such a tremendous prize for a lot peaceful thinking, instead of a lot of peaceful doing.

Though these concerns are playing out on the political stage, it leads me to question how much has changed since the inception of the reforms instituted by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and those supporting their efforts within the Thoroughbred industry. The NTRA has put many changes forward since the years of Eight Belles and Barbaro; they have instituted revisions in whips, and toe clips, steroids and racing surfaces, but the fact remains that horses are still breaking down from their participation in Thoroughbred racing. Many of their injuries are sustained during normal training and racing activities, and don't result in the reverberations to the industry seen during the Eight Belles trauma, but they keep happening nonetheless. Calder Racetrack was just accredited by the NTRA, in part because it has the most highly detailed system of any track for logging and reporting racehorse injuries and fatalities. But is it enough to implement standards for peaceful thinking, if those standards aren't necessarily changing the fundamental problem? I am by no means suggesting that these new standards aren't heralds of change for the industry, long overdue but tangible steps forward in the attempt to improve racehorse welfare and safety. Can we, however, challenge Obama's win on the global stage, when many of our domestic policies (for racehorses and otherwise) haven't yet brought about the sweeping reforms that they set out to accomplish?

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