Happy 20th birthday, March 10, 2018, to my beloved Henry horse!
Formerly named Root Beer Float by humans in the racing world who failed to appreciate his majesty, Henry was so defensive when Greg and I first met him that we were advised to use a stock for his veterinary treatment.
PETA fieldworkers had found Henry in April 2014, together with a mare we named Caroline, abandoned and starving in a rural North Carolina field. Knowing that Henry and Caroline had few options, Greg was determined that we would adopt them, despite our very limited horse experience.
Somehow, against the odds, Greg and I made the adoption work.
In the early months after Greg’s October 2015 death, one of my few joys was watching Henry and Caroline transform and thrive. The pair brought me so much solace and pride, in fact, that in September 2016 I adopted another PETA rescue horse named Charlie, who had been drugged and raced for years despite his injuries.
My experience with Henry and Charlie also inspired me to learn all the ways that horses suffer in the racing industry, and to do as much as I can to end their suffering.
Through the Greg Fund, I have provided major support to the PETA Cruelty Investigations Division / Community Animal Project that rescued Henry and Caroline, and the Cruelty in Horse Racing Campaign that rescued Charlie.
PETA’s gutsy and innovative strategies have already secured major breakthroughs for racehorses. After a PETA investigation exposed that leading Thoroughbred horse trainer Steve Asmussen drugged sore, injured horses in order to mask pain and make them run faster, the New York State Gaming Commission fined Asmussen $10,000 and proposed sweeping new regulations to protect horses.
Last year, PETA introduced a new technology that allows bettors to donate for racehorse aftercare, and worked with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Stronach Group to launch it at major racetracks. Although horses can live well into their 30s, racehorses are typically used for just a few years, and many are then sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico. The new PETA technology is an important means to provide a happier ending for these magnificent creatures.
This week, PETA backed an aggrieved bettor in filing a lawsuit over winnings he was cheated out of when a doped horse won a race in New Jersey two years ago. The lawsuit represents an effort by PETA to open the gates for more litigation by bettors, which in turn should curtail illegal horse doping and the injuries and deaths that frequently occur as a result.
If only Greg could see us now!
Photo of Charlie and Henry running c Irene Abdou Photography.