Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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nodh.klmWe recently ran an article by Anne Hambleton titled “Thoroughbreds: Kings of the Hunting Field.” The article received many enthusiastic Comments and was posted by readers through the social media. Yet despite all the enthusiasm and warm feelings the article generated for this majestic breed, one Thoroughbred retirement organization may have lost the support of an important donor.

Anne wrote about some famous race horses—Steppenwolfer, McDynamo, Lonesome Glory, Private Attack, Buck Jakes—who found second homes in the hunting field. Those horses loved foxhunting, and their riders, sitting atop a fleet, supremely athletic, and bottomless horse that moves like a cloud would have it no other way. Anne made a case for the breed, and she also encouraged foxhunters to look at some of the wonderful candidates available at the many Thoroughbred rescue organizations.

One major retirement organization mentioned the Foxhunting Life article on their Facebook page and proudly told of some of the racetrack retirees they have successfully re-homed for second careers as field hunters. They received several positive responses, then heard from a long-time major donor who left a negative comment about foxhunting being a cruel sport and threatened to stop donating to the organization. Guilt by association.

The Fund Director asked if I had any comments that she might share with this donor to defuse his objections. I sent her some talking points, but what I really hope is that this donor will think hard about the essence of his philanthropy.

I would like to think that donations to equine retirement causes are expressions of love for the animal and a wish to alleviate suffering and possibly premature euthanasia when the animal is still capable of enjoying life. If the horse gets a second chance with a foxhunting owner who gives it the superb care that a field hunter requires, does it really matter to the horse what the owner does?

There are pitifully few retirement or re-homing organizations compared to the numbers of unwanted horses looking for a second chance. I sincerely hope that this or any other donor would channel their thoughts to the needs of the horses, focus on their quality of life, and not perplex the philanthropic process with personal prejudices about their new owners, whether they be based on religion, skin color, political party, sexual orientation, or...choice of lifestyle.

Posted February 27, 2013


+4 # Andy Bozdan 2013-03-07 10:36
In the UK I set up the Federation for the Retraining of Racehorses. We had many kind and thoughtful donors who all to a man and woman cared about the horses in our care and their future happiness and usefulness as Hunters,showjum pers and riding horses. It did not matter to them one iota if the horses we retrained went onto hunting careers or event horses,dressage or whatever they were best suited to.. At a time when the welfare of horses has never been a bigger problem both here in the USA and at home in the UK you would have thought that this donor would have had more concern for the horses best interest rather than his own!
+1 # Cheryl Microutsicos 2013-03-10 20:10
I agree! Foxhunters normally take the best care of their horses and value them highly. THAT should be what's important--the welfare of the horse. Perhaps the retirement organization can brag about how the TBs have great homes and new jobs as "field hunters".
+1 # Joy Crompton 2013-03-11 19:06
I was sorry to hear that OTTB's could lose the support of a major donor. TB's love the freedom of the Hunt Field and thrive in their new job there.
We just picked up a TB that was under Steuart Pittman's re-training program, Retired Racehorse Training Project's 100 Day Thoroughbred Challenge. Ours was voted to best succeed as a Fox Hunter, but the other 3 that were exhibited, were headed to to show ring or eventing.

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