Discussing horse retirement as 2017 racing season comes to an end

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local groups hosted a panel dedicated to the discussion of taking care of race horses after their time at the track.

As the Saratoga racing season winds down, it’s hard to ignore the record number of horse deaths that took place this year. Eighteen have died so far in comparison to the annual average of just over 13 since the New York Gaming Commission started keeping track in 2009.

On Tuesday, the gaming commission hosted a specialized panel touching on at least one way to protect race horses, including focusing on retirement.

“Identifying when horses are just trying to tell you that it’s getting to be about that time,” Rich Schosberg, of NYTHA Aftercare Committee, said.

Along with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the gaming commission, trainers, veterinarians and other horse specialists gathered at Empire State College to discuss what happens when a race horse retires and when is the right time.

“We’re doing a lot of research about this at Cornell University right now trying to identify – how do I identify – what’s the risk of injury, serious injury, and we’re making a lot of progress in the last few years on that,” veterinarian Dr. Scott Palmer said. “We’re putting together some very exciting tools.”

Multiple representatives from horse sanctuaries also spoke about the importance of knowing when to retire a horse from its racing career.

“Racing is not for every horse, so to stop a horse when they’re not competitive and not just squeeze the last drop out of the lemon can make a huge difference not only momentarily, but on the well-being, the quality of life as a whole for the horse,” Leandra Cooper, of New Vocations, said.

The gaming commission hopes to continue the conversation into future track seasons.

There is less than a week left of the 2017 Saratoga racing season. The last day is Monday, September 4.

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