I have extremely mixed feelings about the horse racing industry. I know that many horses live terrific lives and are cared for by trainers who love them. But so many horses bred for the racing industry die too early, and in sad ways.

My father was a harness racing trainer, he lived for the game, the horses, the friendships. He was a good and ethical man, who ached at the decisions he had to make at times, regarding the horses he cared for. It can work well, as in the case of the thoroughbred Black Caviar, but it can also end terribly badly for many many more horses.

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So this is a poem that deals with some of these things, and includes the horror of the pet food industry and horses.

 

The Racing Game

the foal is born, owner and trainer’s hopes

stand before them, long and wobbling legs

too fine, surely, to carry the weight

of their hopes and dreams

 

the foal is weaned, its mother calling

for her offspring, as the foal is taken away

to be taught to carry the weight

of a jockey and the punters’ money

 

the foal breaks down, worked too hard

too early, limbs damaged, money lost

insurance claimed back by owner

who shrugs and waits for the next foal

 

the foal is slaughtered, meat for pets

or people, meat that’s richer red, uncooked

than the beef it looks like cooked, beef

with a slightly sweet, but bitter, aftertaste

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