Bluegrass Warrior was the type of horse you just couldn't help but like. His career average winning distance was 13.65 furlongs.
We all got a lot of bang for our buck watching him compete in marathon races in Kentucky and Ohio. He retired in 1998 at the age of 13, and it was a given he would always have a home.
Trainer Joanie Cook adored the old guy, and recently, she relayed the news that "Bluegrass" died last year of an aneurysm while running in a field. She was there when he died at age 23.
The Kentucky-bred gelding by Navajo was born to run--preferably further than a mile and a quarter. He still holds the track record (on dirt or synthetic) for two miles at Turfway Park.
Bluegrass Warrior came to mind with the upcoming American Horse Council "Welfare of the Horse" forum June 16 in Washington, D.C. The event will feature a broader look at horse welfare, in that representatives of other disciplines will be on hand, as will national welfare officials.
The AHC now oversees the Unwanted Horse Coalition, which is designed to educate people on the responsibilities of horse ownership. One aspect is having an exit strategy--for the horse.
There have been estimates (tens of thousands) as to the number of "unwanted horses" in the United States, but it's still a gray area. The coalition will give an update at the forum.
It's a tough, emotional issue, with an obvious tie-in with the debate over horse slaughter. There are legitimate arguments from all sides.
Legislating personal responsibility is dangerous. Advocating it isn't so bad; it just takes a lot more time to get the message across.
The coalition needs more of the thousands of horse owners like Joanie Cook, who figured out the answer a long time ago.
They simply love their horses.