Make the Commitment: A Thoroughbred Constitution

August 8, 2023

Lava Man at Old Friends with new friends. (Photo by Mary Green courtesy of Old Friends)

Every horse should be a “Lava Man”

Op./Ed. By Maribeth Kalinich

The Retired Racehorse Project proposed this question on Twitter:

“Let’s chat: what steps can the racing industry take, big or small, to make aftercare a normal part of the conversation around horse racing?”

To me the answer is simple: Make the commitment. Create a Thoroughbred Constitution. You breed it, you own it, you honor it. 

Every owner in that horse’s life must swear to the “Thoroughbred Constitution” like an elected official, judge, peace officer … If they break their oath, they are out of the business. Pure and simple. We have been putting up with this for far too long. It goes with the Jockey Club registration.

I, ______________________, do solemnly swear, as a member of the horse breeding and racing community, to offer care, food, shelter, medical care, companionship, and kindness to the [bay filly by – o/o] born this day, [date].

Pennsylvania Derby contender Hot Rod Charlie (L) with exercise rider Johnny Garcia and “Coach Lava Man” and Assistant Trainer Sabas Rivera jog on the track at Parx Racing in prep for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

It starts with the breeder and carries through to each owner. Do we not make a lifetime commitment to our pets and our children? We need make a lifetime commitment to our horses.

These animals are our children. We purposefully bring them into the world for profit and pleasure. We have an honor and duty to care for them like they are our children.

Racetracks are state subsidized with casino money. Aftercare should be as well, and every state should not only have aftercare accounts and placement programs but FARMS. Expensive? You bet. If they can give hundreds of millions to the RACEtracks where these RACEhorses work …

What happens to the account if the permanent owners don’t need it? It rolls over into the farm for education and care. 

Jonathan Stettin visits with Lava Man
Past The Wire’s Jonathan Stettin visits with Lava Man at Doug O’ Neil’s barn. (Jon Stettin photo)

It’s not rocket science and once in place it will become routine. This system could bring younger people into the world of horses/racing and give them jobs with lifelong skills.

If they are account managers, they can learn bookkeeping. They can go into veterinary sciences. Or breeding or anything because working around horses builds confidence and a respect for animals and self.

Come on, horseracing, take the Oath. Make the commitment.

Lava Man thanks you!  

Contributing Authors

MariBeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Past the Wire

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

View Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

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