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.
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