The dark side of the thoroughbred horse breeding industry: ‘throwaway’ foals


Horse breeding, especially in the world of thoroughbred racehorses, has a little-known dark side that many in the industry would prefer not be discussed. Cheering crowds, colorful jockeys, and the triumph of the winner’s circle all hide some grim realities. Paradoxically, horse racing is in long-term decline but breeding racehorses is still very profitable. This has led many in the industry to engage in practices you might associate with “factory farming” and “breeding rings.” One really shocking example are “throwaway foals.”

Although perfectly good horses as such, these non-thoroughbred foals are called “incompetent” in industry-speak and frequently discarded and left for dead. As Victoria Goss, founder of a horse rescue organization called The Last Chance Corral, explains, “These foals are basically considered a byproduct of thoroughbred racing. They’re only born so that their mothers will then come into milk and that milk will nourish a thoroughbred baby so that its mother can go and get re-bred because her job is to have a racehorse baby every year. If it weren’t for the fact we’re here, all these foals would be dead.”

The Last Chance Corral, based in Athens, Ohio, describes its mission as providing horses “hope, shelter, and opportunity regardless of their situation or problems. Be it psychological or physiological we are committed to addressing the individual needs of each rescued animal. Our work begins with developing an individual diet, treatment regimens, and a training program for each horse according to its needs. When a horse has been sufficiently rehabilitated we go about the work of finding appropriate adoptive homes that suit the horse’s needs and abilities.”

Below, you’ll find a video about Goss’ effort to rescue as many of these unfortunate “throwaway” foals as she possibly can. You’ll learn more about her, the horses, and The Last Chance Corral.

Did you have the slightest idea something like this was going on? What do you think about the horse racing industry’s seamy side? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments at Facebook. Be sure to like and share: the more people who know about this, the better!