When Baby Mamas and Their Babies Are Sold

The winter mixed auctions that take place early in the year don't offer the best of the breeding stock, which usually is sold in the fall. But one fun thing about them is the opportunity to see some tiny little foals by their dams' sides. Whenever a mare and her offspring go through the sale ring, you can hear people going, "AAAwwww, how cute!" and often the auctioneer has an amusing comment about the situation.


At Keeneland this past January, one foal was so young that it was carried part of the way to the sale pavilion and when it was waiting to be sold, it would occasionally lie down for a rest while an attendant kept a close watch on it. The foal, which had been born the night before and was only hours old, didn't look unhappy, it just didn't have a lot of stamina, and both mare and foal since have been reported to be doing well, according to Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell.


But I wondered if it was necessary for the mare and foal together or the foal to make the trip to the sale sale ring. At one European auction earlier this year, mares that were due to foal remained at their farm and were offered in absentia.


Russell  said he had never been asked by a consignor if the company could sell a mare and foal without them being present in the sale ring. But in his opinion, the mare and foal should remain together at all times - either both go to the sale ring or both remain in their stall while being offered.


"I don't think you should separate a mare and her foal at that early stage because of the stress," he said. "You wouldn't want to be separated from your mommy within 12 hours being born. If the foal isn't strong enough to come to the sale ring or the mare had complications foaling and she was too weak to come to the sale ring, we would announce that the mare had foaled whenever she had foaled and that we were selling them (the mare and foal) in absentia."


Keeneland has a screen above the sale ring on which videos can be shown, and Geoffrey said it might be possible to play a video of a mare and foal being  offered in absentia if there was enough time available to put such a presentation together.


Legacy Bloodstock's Mark Toothaker agreed with Russell that a mare and foal should remain together in a sale situation.


Separating them "would stress the fire out of them," Toothaker said. "When you wean them, they (the mare and foal) throw a fit, so I can just imagine how stressful it (separating them) would be with a newborn involved. Even if you had an attendant in the stall with the foal, it would still be very, very stressful. I don't mind (taking a mare and foal to the sale ring) if you have a big, strong boy who can carry the foal so it doesn't have to walk as much. I know the little one is going to be much happier because he wants to be with his mama."


With his own mares, Toothaker said, "I probably wouldn't put one in the sale in the first place if I knew she was going to be right on top of foaling."


However, in dispersal situations or times of great financial need on the part of the owner, selling a mare pregnant on an early cover might be difficult to avoid. Also, because some foals arrive early, an at-the-sale birth can sometimes come as a surprise.


Leave a Comment:


Carried the newborn to the sales ring?

Is there nothing beyond the reach of decency? (no I am not naive)

Aren't their laws protecting babies, like with puppies?

I wish I hadn't read this article.

I just hope I can make it through this year, until Rachel and Zen do their thing, and a couple of other horses I like finish their careers, then I am outta here & leaving horse racing as a horrible dream.

I am SO glad I have not done as my husband urged me and bought any to race.

15 Feb 2010 11:59 AM

It would be a very dangerous situation for everyone involved to seperate a mare from her offspring and expect her to present herself at best in the sales ring.

 If a mare if already bagging up or relaxing before she goes to the sales grounds, or even while showing she needs to be pulled. Added stress of shipping, etc. can unsettle even the oldest most reliable or matrons. There is no dispersal sale that needs to take place so bad that a mare cannot remain at the farm and be allowed to foal comfortably.

15 Feb 2010 12:05 PM

Thank you Rachel! This is disgusting to even think about, not only for the foal but for the mare as well. The thought of moving a mare who is going to foal, having her foal in an unfamiliar location (do the foaling men go with an individual mare or do they stay at the farm with all the mares there? ie are there specialists to watch the mare and help her if she needs it?), and then dragging her into the ring after the physically exhausting birthing process and parading her around....I do know about sentence structure, but I am just so offended by this! The industry should be ashamed on so many levels. Horses are living creatures, and they should be treated with respect and decency.

15 Feb 2010 12:33 PM

I am surprised the owner of the mare was so blind to the health and safety of the mare and foal, that they even sent a mare so close to foaling to a sale.  Mares within 1 month of foaling have no business being on sale grounds.  Reading this article really turned my stomach.  I got to Keeneland several times a year for racing and sales and you can bet I will leave a note for the management as to my utter disappointment in their leadership to allow such things at sales.  1 month is not alot to ask to give a mare who has spent the past 10 months growing a foal that the breeder is wanting to either sell or race, to keep them off the sale grounds.  I have to go outside now and trudge thru the snow and give my mare's some extra carrots and love all over them.  A true horse lover would never do this to a mare and certainly not to a newborn foal.  But that's just my opinion and I could be wrong...................but I am not !!!!

15 Feb 2010 12:56 PM

IMO this was cruelty. If the owners didn't have the decency to pull the mare, then Keeneland should have stepped up to the plate. The fact that everyone sat on their hands & watched while  this mare & her foal were abused makes me furious.

15 Feb 2010 1:07 PM

I don't know who the writer of this article is but I don't see any "fun" in watching a newborn foal crying for it's mother in a sale ring.  I also think this is a terrible  and hope the right people read these comments and change there practice of bringing very young foals and or their mothers to the sale barn.  It is winter for God's sake!  This is animal cruelty in my opinion and I'm sure it is to others as well.  We are not activists, we just want to see animals treated humanely.  Dragging a day old foal to the sale barn is Barbaric!

15 Feb 2010 1:43 PM

    Farms in Kentucky (and elsewhere) routinely leave foals at home when mares are shipped to be bred.  Some years ago we received a call that one of our mares had developed colic on her way to breeding shed and was at the vet clinic for    surgery.

We knew the mare well and told them to just get the mare back to her foal.  They did and she immediately recovered from "colic."  Fortunately, she hadn't ovulated and was bred the next day.  The re sulting foal is a SW of $300,000+!  

15 Feb 2010 1:48 PM

The mares that foal aren't required to go to the walking ring after they foal. To minimize contact with other horses they take them straight to the sales ring, and then straight back to the stall. It minimizes the walking and stress on the foal as well. I don't think early foaling mares should be ran through the sales, but at least they do it in a way to be as kind to the foal as possible when it does happen.

15 Feb 2010 1:54 PM

I'm sorry, but bringing newborns into a sales pavillion where hundreds of other horses pass is just wrong.

They're not "as kind to the foal as possible".  If that was high on their agenda, they'd leave the foal and dam at home.

Their focus is solely on selling both.  All you'd need to do is set up a web cam the day of sale and stream the feed to the pavillion.  No need for big video production.  Can put a stick to the mare to how her size, too.

I watched the live stream of the sale and admit to a bit of an "awwww", but the poor foals were so tired and confused...

Was impressed at how they were handled though.  The handlers were real professional horsemen, trying to minimize the foal and mare stress.  But there is just no need for the mare and foal to be there.

15 Feb 2010 2:29 PM

The Blood Horse sugar-coats everything.

It's about money from start to finish. What about the nurse mare business? TB mares having their foals yanked away unless they are a danger to their foals or can't nurse? What about the nurse mares that are separated from their own foals to feed TB foals? What about the nurse-mare foals that cannot be rescued or are too young or neglected to survive? What about the good mares that are injured or foundered but kept alive in agony to get the foal? What about the mares that are in danger to die in pregnancy or while foaling and are bred anyway until they die? What about the non-productive TB mares that are too well-known to be sent to slaughter and are left to die without shelter and care in the back forties including champions and dams of champions like Our Mims and Sugar and Spice? Some owners are compassionate but this is a damn ugly business, including at breeze sales and the racetrack.

15 Feb 2010 2:46 PM

This article made me slightly sick.  It's shocking that horsemen and women would subject their mares and newborns to this.  Stan said it all, but those of us who care must never let down our diligence and efforts to change the industry for the betterment of the horses.  Both exposure and solutions must reach the public awareness.  

15 Feb 2010 3:19 PM
Two Jays

My question is if you have to sell the mare and foal, what business do you have breeding the mare in the first place? Subjecting the mare and foal to the stress of the auction ring is beyond the pale for me.

15 Feb 2010 3:38 PM

No newborns in sales and no pregnant mares racing either. We need to draw the line somewhere.

This was an awful thing to read about, that owner shouldn't be allowed to own horses, he apparently doesn't give a rat's behind about their well being.

15 Feb 2010 3:45 PM

wow..just when you thought you've seen all the ugliness this industry has to offer - something even uglier comes along! I am shocked and repulsed by the treatment of these mares and foals. The sales companies need to do something to fix this and they need to do it right away.

Thanks for giving me yet another reason to NEVER sell my one and only broodmare. I shudder to think that she might ever end up in the custody of such callous, unprofessional breeders!      

15 Feb 2010 4:00 PM

I don't care how many antibodies are passed to a foal at birth, the sale grounds have to be the filthiest, germ ridden places of all. Otherwise why do we go to such trouble to disinfect foaling stalls. Owners with any ethics or concern should not even enter a mare if she's so close to foaling. It's despicable, but then a lot of things in this industry are.

15 Feb 2010 4:05 PM
Giddy Up

I too noticed at Fasig this month that several lower end mares had foaled at the sale or closely before and had extremely young foals. Those mares were walked around both walk rings, which seemed a bit tough on the foals to me. I had wished they would let them graze in the middle grass area of the walk ring instead of walk. However in the wild I'm sure these foals would be expected to walk much more to survive. I did notice one kind handler try to give a break once in the inside walk ring for one foal that had very wind swept unstable hind legs. he tried to stop them in teh corner and stand. No one carried the foal. But in all honesty the pair did worse at time of rest as the mother got  very anxious in such an environment and did not just stand and relax as the other horses went by. so it really made it worse. It would be best in my opinion to have a rule that any mares with in one month of foaling are sold at stall side and be in isolated quarantine barns. Any early foalings sold there too. Have increased cleansing/sanitizing of the stall and area. Walk through feet sterilizers like in equine hospitals etc. No foals under 4 weeks allowed to be walked through the facility. They excite some other horses as well. I never noticed any nurse breaks for the day old foal. Not sure the mare would have let it nurse in that situation anyway. And I do wonder if the temporary hired sale help had any knowledge of how to monitor and help a mare and foal to be sure it was nursing correctly and had proper post foaling care to safe guard help. I'm sure the big consigners have knowledge of this and the managers would make sure it gets done though. they would be liable for the welfare of the pair in their care custody and control and I'm sure would see to it that it is done correctly. I have notice most consigners go above and beyond to do good care for the horses while there, including hiring night guards and leaving feed for the horses after the sale in case the buyers have to leave them there that night and pick up the next day. I've only seen top care for the horses at the sales. I personally would not send a mare one month or less from foaling to the sale. But if someone has to do it it would be good for the sale agencey and consisgners making money off the sale of the horse to provide a well thought out plan to get them sold as safely as they can. The buyers, sellers and the horses would all appreciate that I would think. But in my experience watching the foaling mares don't bring much bid anyway, so it really is no help to send them in. all the ones I watched go about 4 brought next to nothing or no bid. and I over heard some industry top sales agents watching the mare and foal in the walk ring mentioning that it never helped them get a price on a mare if she already foaled.. they usually did worse despite the idea some people have that you will get a better price with the foal on the side.

15 Feb 2010 4:10 PM

Finally, unanimity about, at least, this aspect of the cruel ways of the business. You see-you don't have to be a PETA member in order to become appalled by how some horses are treated. The more that is exposed, the more will be the outcries. There are so many areas that demand our closer scrutiny. The above example is just that-a mere example.

15 Feb 2010 4:22 PM

PEOPLE...What, exactly, do you think happens when a mare foals in the wild? The foal is up and moving with its mother very quickly. They join their herd and if the baby does not get trampled to death by another horse or killed by predators it is doing well. Consignors take good care of these animals. The situation is less than ideal but there are some serious over-reactions in these comments.

15 Feb 2010 4:35 PM
g or g

I think the saddest part about this story is that the mare that foaled at the KEE January sale was 20yr old Desert Stormer, winner of the 1985 BC Sprint.  Why is a 20 Breeders' Cup winner going through the sales ring?  Has she not deserved a life of R & R?  It just seems a little degrading to her and her Keeneland-born foal.

15 Feb 2010 4:37 PM

Like some of the others here, I am sickened by this.  They can easily present a video in absence of the mare/foal.  How pathetic has this world become?  And if a frightened baby tries to bolt or duck under the mother, who is responsible for any resulting injury?  Stupid and sick.  Any animals sold "in abstentia"  can have a buy back clause if the buyer finds something not quite right after not being able to "inspect the goods on sight"   But I guess if we live in a society where EVERYTHING is now on display for the whole world to see, a newborn still wet from the womb probably isn't any big deal in some people's minds (or their wallets)  

I never understood the need for filming the birth of a human baby...and showing it to anyone who comes to visit!! Never thought it was THAT important to have so much information so readily on display!  But filming newborn animals -- - not so bad!

15 Feb 2010 4:38 PM

First, as noted above, a very small fraction of mares sold at January and February stock sales are on the cusp of delivery or immediately post-foaling.  If this phenomenon was really such a risk to the mare breeders doubtless would not enter stock. If the routine stress of sales  was so great that a significant fraction of mares aborted or delivered premature foals, there would be no desire to do so.  Since this isn't the case, maybe, just maybe the moral outrage could be dialed back just a little.

Second, most foals seen at sale within a week of birth have been foaled on the sale grounds, so 'dragging' mare and foal to sale is even more uncommon than seeing foals at foot in the first place.

Third, at markets like the recent F-T February sale some foals were already about a month old.  Is that really so horrible?

Fourth, if people are so troubled by seeing mares sold at public auctions with foals at foot they ought to consider the historical conditions of horse sales, where it was a common, even preferred, way to present mares.  Or they might blame themselves for credit cycles and holiday customs that don't encourage horse sales in late December, before this would be a significant issue.

15 Feb 2010 4:41 PM

You mean this Desert Stormer and her Bernardini foal?


Oh yeah, they look horribly traumatized.

15 Feb 2010 5:01 PM

Ah, racings little dirty secrets are finally coming out.  They want patrons to watch the races so things get sugar coated all the way around.  I am not a PETA person either but with all the mess that the racing community is shelling out sometimes I even wornder why I care about racing. They are going to turn me off from it very soon if they don't get their eggs in order.

15 Feb 2010 5:02 PM

wow, people, take a breath.  the incidence of mares foaling at the sale is really not all that common.  There are nightwatch people at all the barns, so the mares are watched closely.  Mares foal unexpectedly all the time, without bagging up, without showing obvious signs, even when they are in their stalls at the farm.  No one is going to take a mare to the sale who is obviously going to foal soon.  And by the way, soon has nothing to do with dates.  And if mare and foal are both healthy, there is no reason to not go ahead and take them through the sales ring.

15 Feb 2010 5:18 PM

RACHEL...if you dislike horse racing and think that the animals are mistreated....why are you reading the Bloodhorse.com?

It is not cruel to take a mare and foal out.  It is more cruel to seperate them.  And, sometimes, the mares may foal a week or so earlier than anticipated.  When they are entered into the sale months earlier, one just doesn't know how long they will carry.  I look at it as a chance to see exactly what is being purchased.  You even get to see the foal and if the mare is a good mother or not.

15 Feb 2010 5:24 PM

How many of you actually own or even know what you are talking about when you make comments about horses.  The sells should probably use the video more often with those just born but really you all need to get some horse education before overreacting.

Most mares and foals are up running around thier paddocks within hours of foalings so walking them from their stall to a ring is not stressful for them (perhaps for first time dams) and I have shipped many mares with foals a week old and never had a problem. I'm not a fan of shipping right before foaling but many do without problem.

15 Feb 2010 5:31 PM

I think there were a few goood points here... the sales company can easily remedy this situation...have a separate mare and foal barn closer to the sale ring... or better yet make it mandatory to sell them in absentia... buyers can always go to the barns ( and should go to the barns to see every horse) prior to seeing it for the first time in the walking ring...

15 Feb 2010 6:16 PM

I had no idea the mare was 20 years old AND a BC winner. This makes it even worse. Hasn't a 20 year old mare earned a retirement? I guess not, because the person who buys her will surely breed her a few more times until she dies of foaling complications. For those of you who aren't offended by this, I know there is nothing that I can say to impart the moral gravity of the situation. It is disgusting to me that the horses in the sport aren't treated better. They are not ATMs. Granted, of all the inhumane offenses in the sport, a 12 hour old baby sold at auction is small stuff, but it is indicative of much larger problems that should be dealt with.

15 Feb 2010 6:16 PM

Why would you separate them that would mean stress and they could throw a big fit and hurt themselves we have horses and that happens all the time. We wean the kids after maybe five months with their moms and we wean them and they get over it in a week or so. Not after a day or week together. I wish that I didn't read the article to learn that people would do that.

15 Feb 2010 6:17 PM

Of the 11 posts as of this writing only Charlie knew what he/she was talking about.  The rest of you do not have a clue and your ignorance of the process is most disturbing. I doubt any of you have ever worked with mares and foals let alone horses in general and if you have it most likely was in pony club or 4-H. Not in the real world of working horse people.  Horse are horses, animals, not HUMANS and one has to ALWAYS remember not to humanize the process. I can promise you if horses could speak they would tell you the same thing. Just the words used by the various posers, I mean posters, like newborn, crying, specialialist,disgusting,confused,beyond the reach of decency, makes me want to scream to you all to go back to your suburban back yards and look after the squirrels and birds because you know nothing about horses.  Horses are one of the most adaptable animals on earth nature has provided for them to deal with far more stressful situations then being carried into the sale rings. It is not that exhausting for the mare to give birth.  Matter it is one of the few things horses by in large do easily, fast and with very little complications.  I know for a human child birth is long, agonizing and exhausting but nature has designed the horse for it to be completely different. If not they would have all been killed off a long time ago by predators.  With in hours after birth a mare an foal run away and or deal with just about any situation nature can throw at them.  Funny, I have clients call me when the weather is cold to make sure their horses are warm enough. But they never call in the middle of the summer when it is hot as hell.  Horses can deal with the cold far better then they can with the heat. Do you hear what I am saying Lori. The VAST MAJORITY of people who make their living with horses and owners also do everything possible to do right by their animal friends. Make many quality of life sacrifices. You guys say it's all about the money. Nonsense if it were all about the money I and most other horsemen who scratch out a living would just sell out.  Reading this garbage after battling two back to back monster snow storms, 14 hour days making sure all 45 of our horses are well fed and comfortable just make me sick. We have not taken a vacation in years. We are lucky to make minimum wage if that when it's all said and done. Long cold days, long hotter then hell days, long rainy days, SEVEN days a week. We do it because we love our horses and the life not for the money. If I were interested in the money I would sell out and take the $3,000,000 that our property is worth be completely out of debt and have millions to live off of.

15 Feb 2010 7:09 PM

Rachel is an idiot. Please do us all a favor and don't come back to the thoroughbred business.

15 Feb 2010 7:11 PM

Good for you Charlie! Luck is always involved. As we all well know.

15 Feb 2010 7:15 PM

It seems that most of the people posting here aren't even directly involved in the racing or breeding side, but have plenty to offer in terms of criticism.

First of all, please give accounts of endangerment to mares and/or foals at the sales before making assumptions.

Second, mares of any equine breed in the wild foal in pastures, not barns?! And without benefit of good veterinary care, grooms, foaling staff, etc.

More care & attention is given to horses at auction so as to protect the mare & foal, even if just as an asset, but also because these people you so criticize do care about their business and the horses they breed. An injured or sick mare or foal would be bad for business & bad for racing. But also know, many good horsemen & women do keep track of their mares & foals... it's not some insensitive assembly line like production as some of you would categorize it.

If Rachel Alexandra & Zenyatta are all racing is to some of you, then you're missing out on some really gutsy runners & aren't much of a racing fan anyway... you're a "horse fan" and there is a difference. But without the sport, there are now stars.

Without the sport, you wouldn't even know who Rachel Alexandra & Zenyatta are, because they wouldn't even exist.... they were bred to race.... and breeding leads to consignments which leads to new owners, which hopefully leads to superstars.

15 Feb 2010 7:31 PM

I came to Lexington two years ago from New Jersey and married a man in the horse business.  As a horse lover and the owner of a rescued TB, I thought I had heard all (or almost all ) the horror stories  of this business; from the slaughter houses to the nurse mares; the neglect and abuse; the "what have you done for me lately" attitude; the total lack of care or consideration for the mares and stallions that are not constant producers; but this has left me speechless. The trauma that the mare and foal are going through(and believe me; it is traumatic) is sickening.  Shame on Keeneland and the people who sold that mare and hours-old foal.  Sadly, knowing many important people in the horse business, nothing is going to change.  It is all about the money when it comes to horses, no matter how wealthy people are. Thank God for organizations like Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation; and people who rescue horses and try to make a difference. I will be writing and calling Keeneland and making a huge stink about this practice; but I know nothing will come of it.  Why? Because people make money off the backs of these magnificent animals. Still, you have to keep trying and putting pressure on practices like this. It is disgusting.

15 Feb 2010 8:53 PM

A lot of great comments from a lot of people. We sell a ton of horses but have been lucky enough to not have any foal at the sale grounds. We do bring in a pro nightwatchan and have them supplied with everything they would need for a foaling and my cell phone and most important our vets phone number. Over our last 4 years we have been very fortunate to not have any foals born on the sales ground. We had a mare in the January sale that was due right then and our client scratched the mare so she could foal at home. We try to always work with our clients to make sure we are very aware of their foaling dates and work around it. There are folks that have to sell for whatever reason and this does happen, but I agree it is very stressful. I think we all need to just do the best we can to always look out for whats best for the horse and use the best judgement possible to try and avoid having a mare foal on the sales ground. By doing that you will still get a mare that does come a little early from time to time and from my standpoint I can assure you that we would do everyting possible to give mare and foal the best possible care we could while in our care on the sales ground as would most any other consignor. Most all of us do this because we love it and couldnt imagine doing anything else and the last thing we would ever want to do is put a mare and foal in danger.

15 Feb 2010 9:21 PM

Everyone here needs to chill out like the person above me stated its not scientific when these mares will foal. Some time they go ten day early and some will go 20 days late. So you ask yourself how are they supposed to know that they are going to foal onthe sale grounds. But u all are saying that if she hadnt foaled on the sale grounds then it would of been alright to send her thru the ring then. Correct. You all need o read what you are writing. What do you think they do in the wild. The strongest will survive. If a newborn is sick or something is wrong then the resulting foal will die in wild. I dont see PETA running around the hills of Wyoming and flatlands of Texas rasing cane of it. So what the deal. You all need to work in the horse business and see what really goes on then to just be adding comments to be heard. Most of these horses get more money put into them and are treated better than you probably are. Its not uncommon for a horse to be living in a multi-million dollar facility. So chill out and write something when you know what you are talking about

15 Feb 2010 9:36 PM

People are you really racing fans? There is good and bad in everthing, if this is so bad, then why are you here?  Either you love the racing industry or you don't, have any of you taken a look at other aspects of horse industry? There are some pretty crappy things happning in other breeds that are a lot worse then walking a mare and her foal through a sales ring.  Check out the Walking Horses or Saddlebreds, how about them QHs or show jumpers?  Like I said, there is bad in everything. Do some homework before going off.

15 Feb 2010 10:00 PM

It's sick what they do to the mares and foals. Like Desert Stormer and her foal. She did not look to happy. I am pretty sure Live Oak could have sold a few more Campbell Soup cans and wait to sell her. A great racing mare that did not deserve to be put in the ring in those circumstances.

15 Feb 2010 10:07 PM

Good for you, Vivace, for showing the pictures! I must say the mare looks to be having a great time and looks very pleased! The baby looks fine, too. Yes- quite a few are really over-reacting about this. People- they're NOT sending them to the slaughterhouse! Geez, they are more than well cared for.  Foals are up and about shortly after birth, and in the wild would be covering much ground in the first day. Certainly a much larger area than a walking or sales ring!  

15 Feb 2010 11:22 PM

The pictures Vivace provided certainly went a very long way in calming me down. The mare and foal look absolutely amazing and may I add happy(?).

16 Feb 2010 12:43 AM

Re: The Desert Stormer.  They tried to carry him in but he would have none of that so they patiently walked him over with Mom. The pictures by Candice Chavez are precious.

I see no problem with taking them both to the sales ring if they are both up to it. Desert Stormer doesn't look worried or bothered by it.

16 Feb 2010 2:01 AM

All you have to do is read theses comments and realize that 90% of them are from really stupid people. If any of these dummies have ANYTHING to do with Horses in any capacity please do every body a favor especially the horses and give it/them away so they can be SAVED from what must be a screwed up life thanks to your true stupidity.

16 Feb 2010 2:15 AM


16 Feb 2010 4:20 AM

wow. if those are the pictures, baby looks relaxed to me...I wish some peoples kids would have the care that it looks like that baby was given.

16 Feb 2010 8:35 AM

I agree that using a video to sell the mare and foal in absentia is a good idea. Anything that lessens stress is a good idea and I am glad that there is some talk about doing that. However some posters are making it sound like selling mothers with barely a day old foal in the sell ring is a common occurance. I think these people don't like racing to begin with and this article just gave them a chance to air out more disagreements with the industry. All industries have something they can improve on, and this is something that both Keeneland and Fasig Tipton can work on to improve.

16 Feb 2010 8:52 AM
LouAnn Cingel

I am absolutely sickened to what I have just read in this article.  What is wrong with people?  No mother and baby should be separated or paraded such as being done now in this day and age.  There appears to be no decency left on this earth.  I am getting sick of what I see going on in the horseracing/breeding industry that I am just about ready to not view or listen to it anymore as IT BREAKS MY HEART!

I love the horses more than anyone could ever know-GOD BE WITH THE HORSES AND WATCH OVER THEM!

16 Feb 2010 8:55 AM

Dear Bloodhorse:

Can you tell me your intent on publishing this blog??  Have you jumped on the PETA ban-wagon as well?  You are doing nothing but adding fuel to the fire.  Media outlets cause much more problems by reporting BS like this!  Sounds to me like there are a lot of uneducated folks reading this blog.  If you are really wanting to help your readers and the industry, maybe you should try to educate your audience not tear down the industry that supports you.

16 Feb 2010 8:59 AM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

No, it's not cute.  Like lots of others here I've seen it firsthand and it's sort of sick.  I'm sure some foals have survived the process and been winners. That doesn't make it right.

Foaling can be unpredictable so the sales companies should have a policy that foals under a certain age either get the pair pulled or they must be sold privately if sold and the auction company can still get a fee.  Horses are 'out' and get sold pretty frequently, either back at the barn or from the farm, so why take the risk and make the industry look bad to any body who puts the horse first, not just the peta freaks (oops, I mean folks).

16 Feb 2010 9:09 AM

I think there's two different views here.  I believe those outraged (including me) object to the possibility of an "hours old" foal versus one who is weeks or a month old. (look at the link posted by someone showing Desert Stormer & her foal -- they DO look just fine)   It's the idea of the very very newly born that is bothering most of us.

16 Feb 2010 10:16 AM

Mares who are due to foal, or have just foaled days or hours earlier, should stay home. Period. If they have to be sold, do it in absentia. This is just wrong. It puts far too much stress on the mom (or mom-to-be) and baby at a time when they need to be calm.

With today's technology (video and the internet), there is absolutely no need for this. I am beginning to think that when some people become horse breeders they lose their basic common sense! The fact that "other people do it" or "it's always been done this way" doesn't make it right.

16 Feb 2010 12:31 PM

Amazing how much anthropomophizing goes on in these comments.  Anyone who has worked with horses, loved, and cared for them knows that this is a no big deal item.  Horses are big, strong, animals.  Foals are able to outrun wolves and other predators within hours of their births.  While I'm sure most folks would prefer that their mares not foal right before the sale, if mare and foal are healthy it is most certainly not tramatic to walk them up for their 2 minutes in the sale ring.

Just another example of the sensationalism and over-dramaticism plaguing our society today.

16 Feb 2010 1:29 PM

I've been around racing and breeding all of my life. I dont think foals this young should be put through the ring. Its too much excitement. But this is to the people that call racing cruel. If you dont like it back the hell out its not your business. Quit saying its torture most race horses are treated great. i do oppose slaughter but tons of other live stock are raised to meet this fate. this is for all of the soft hearted people that need to quit trying to butt their heads into a sport they know NOTHING about.

16 Feb 2010 1:43 PM


Amen! I really would like to ask BH if they are trying to help or hurt the industry with blogs like this.

16 Feb 2010 2:41 PM

Can anyone explain to me why a 20 year old mare that has just had a foal be put through the sales ring? - F T should be ashamed and I can't believe the callousness of the consigners. The mare (and foal) deserves so much better. It is things like this that give fodder to PETA.

16 Feb 2010 3:10 PM

Jeffery--thank you for your honesty and I fully agree! Yes it wasn't nice to send the foal through and yes I don't agree with that but there could have been reasons that we don't know about as to why a mare foaled during the sale.  Just like with women, mares foal when their body says their foal is ready and if that time is at a sale, then so be it.  Sad but true.  Unless you know WHY exactly this mare was offered so close to foaling, then feel free to comment. Otherwise, be quiet about it.

I get so sick of reading stupid, ignorant unresearched comments about this sport.

16 Feb 2010 4:01 PM

Livestock sales, no matter what species, seem to be a "necessary" evil. That said, it seems to me reasonable, that there should be some parameters. Despite what some professed experienced horsemen here claim, the horse has an extremely low fear tolerance-i.e. it doesn't take very much to cause them a high degree of stress. That's one of the chief reasons why so many mares are placed on regumate while on the sales grounds-concern for stress related abortion. It is far from a walk in the park for them, or, in this worst case, their foal. Some of these "experienced" horsemen really kill me- they believe that time alone (spent with horses) makes them "experts" in all matters related to horses-including equine psychology. If that were the case, there would be no need for a psychology/psychiatry profession (for humans) nor, for that matter, a veterinary profession. As far as what goes on in the wild, for one- I doubt that the industry would/could tolerate the wastage that occurs. For another-the thoroughbred breed is far less "hearty" than the typical wild horse-the thoroughbred was selectively bred for a rather specific purpose, that did not include fending well in the wild. And, where is it written that what goes on in "nature" is the true moral good? As a culture, historically, we learn from past wrongs and try to correct them. The above example (of this blog) is but one area that begs change. Lastly, to those who admonish others who criticize aspects of the business, and demand them to leave-You are the ones who should locate other endeavors-if you're able/ my guess is that most would be hard pressed to find anything other than menial employment. Many of these type are not in the business because of a fondness for horses, rather they enjoy the setting, and simply see the horses as means to an end (their human survival/well-being). Once we are rid of all them, perhaps then we can achieve constructive change.      

16 Feb 2010 4:38 PM

Lastly, to those who admonish others who criticize aspects of the business, and demand them to leave [quote from Sceptre]

I find this attitude to be extremely contemptuous. I would suggest that instead of telling people off, explain why some of the sentiments/opinions expressed here are not practical in the real world. And try to do it without an attitude.

Personally I think that the "you're not in the business, what do you know? Shut up!" is a defense mechanism.

As far as the subject at hand, I do question the wisdom of having a mare and a newborn going through a sales ring for the reasons mentioned above, but what do I know? I'm just a fan.

16 Feb 2010 6:03 PM

My reaction is that, no, it is not appropriate to have a newborn foal in the sales ring--with or without its dam.  Furthermore, how stupid does this make the owners who are trying to sell the pair in the first place?!?  The foal is cute, but will be relatively weak; the mare will fuss over her baby... all in all, they will not make the best impression.  More importantly, should the pair, in fact, remain unsold, the owner has dug himself deeper into a pit by exposing the new little one to whatever those older horses may have or have come into contact with.  Now THAT is stupid.

16 Feb 2010 7:37 PM

It sure would be nice someday, if HORSE racing was about the HORSE, not the purse money...

16 Feb 2010 8:53 PM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

Hey, we all realize this is a business, and lots of us here are in it to one degree or another (100% for me).  Just solve the problem by omitting the sales ring part for the foal that was born last night (which IS going to happen, and it's not really anybody's "fault") in a way that they can still get sold and the sales companies, consignors and sellers still get paid. I don't have the answer, but unlike lots of other issues in the horse industry, this one doesn't seem that hard.  

17 Feb 2010 8:45 AM

It isn't right that a mare goes to the sale so close to her due date.  However, they are cared for at the sales just like they would be cared for in a foaling barn - there are foaling people on hand to assist in a foals delivery.

What I am discouraged about is the mare being shown throughout the days leading up to the sale.  In and out of the stalls isn't necessary.  And IMO a mare who is due within two weeks of the sale have no business being in the January sales - they belong in the November sale.  

I don't have a problem with a foal going to the sale depending on it's mama.  If she is easily stressed, has any kind of aggression, tries to be overly protective of her baby, then why put the added stress on either of them?  A video would be great, and if anyone were serious about them, they can go back to the sales barn.  I do think the horse should be on the grounds for the sale, and accessible to the buyers for a first, second or even a third look instead of having to drive out to the farms - I can see that being very discouraging and time consuming for anyone involved.  The video should be used for sale ring only so the mare and foal wouldn't have to endure it themselves.

Desert Stormer was a big topic from the Jan Keeneland sale.  Her colt was 14 hours old when he went through the ring.  He was carried across the roadway in front of the barn where he was at, down a hill, and he was on his feet the rest of the way - refusing to be carried.  It was a very short trip from his barn to the outside show ring.

He had plenty of help, and though Desert Stormer looked very tired, she did not look irritated, or ill tempered.  She went along quietly, nuzzling and showing affection to her foal the entire time.  

I give KUDOS to the people who work behind the scenes at Keeneland for how they handle the babies.  The babies and mamas are NOT paraded around the outside show ring.  Instead, the consignors are told to bring them over at the last minute, they clear out an area nearest to the pavllion entrance, and when mama and baby come to the show ring, they stand in that spot, away from the other horses, no parading around.  

The only thing in that whole situation that bothered me at all was the fact that the handlers were laughing, and posing for pics like crazy with the foal.  To me, a few pics were okay, but c'mon!  

They were very nice people, and I've seen them around the sales many many times, so I don't hold it against them - it's doubtful they saw the situation as I did.

My problem with the whole thing is what I saw at the last sale I attended.  While nothing negative happened, there are those 'what if's'.  

The foals were walked around the outside show ring with their mamas, and several other horses.  IMO, those foals had no business being in that walking ring.  They should have been brought over at the last minute, and waited on the walkway nearby the show ring.  Sure it was fun to see those cute little babies, but not with so many strange and very unpredictable horses around.  Especially yearlings.  

The foals all handled it well and so did the mamas.  But the danger is still there with the other horses.

The sales companies should not allow a mare two weeks out from her foaling date to be entered, and instead they should go in the November sale instead.  

Consignors should take responsability in what they are offering.  Because IMO it's the consignors responsability nearly as much as the owners who put these horses in this position.

It's not entirely cruel - the horses would probably be sold reguardless of the sale and would still leave their home.  And what would happen to some of these lower end horses who were entered for culling?  I can think of worse places and things that could happen to them than ending up in one of these sales.  

17 Feb 2010 11:52 AM
needler in Virginia

To Notaboutthehorse....it will ALWAYS be about the money; if there is anyone else on this blog who has read WILD RIDE (about the rise and CRASH of Calumet), you will remember the saddest chapter of all....the one about the final dispersal and the mental image of the retired mares being walked over to Keeneland because the farm could not afford to van them. THAT is a tragedy! The reality is that often foals and mares are sold as a package deal...for whatever reason. Nature has given prey animals a huge head start by allowing them to get up and run almost directly after birth. Anyone who has seen a brand new foal get up and run rings around his grazing dam will know what I mean. Foals are born ready to run and raise hell and their dams are ready to keep them in line.  If attacked by predators a dam will lead her foal into flight and often the foal is lost. That is the way nature works. Dams protect their foals and foals look to their dams for protection...that is ALSO the way nature works.

Let's face it, though: an auction barn was never in the evolutionary plan! This is when the humans get to "help" nature along. Keep mare and foal together, make sure both are vetted and healthy, make sure all that CAN be done IS done to maintain safety. As long as the two are together and the bond is unbroken, I THINK things will go OK. There are obvious exceptions to that, but I don't wanna go there since that involves speculation of the most unpleasant sort. Having been around horses for most of my life, I can GUARANTEE you that horses are NOT people. They don't process information like we vertical critters, nor do they view their world in human terms. They think in terms of safety, food and sex... that's about it. If a foal is with dam, then you've got the safe part; if a foal is nursing, you have the food part and the foal will have to wait a bit for the sex part, but we won't go there either.

It just seems this simple to me........and then I will shut up. Keep both mare and foal as healthy as possible, keep foal with dam as long as required, respond to emergencies with all due speed, be on VERY good terms with your vet; if selling dam and foal, keep them together, safe and sound, and make the transition as painless as possible. That's really about all anyone can do, but when a LOT of people begin anthropomorphizing horses, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, etc, the landscape begins getting VERY foggy indeed.

DO NOT YELL AT ME: WE are the ones who put these human emotions into animal behavior; we are the ones who make them less than what they really are: amazing creatures who have evolved into things of beauty, majesty, speed, wonder, adaptability, not a lot of brain power but wonderful, nevertheless.

Give it a rest, folks. Foals and dams will survive this, too, because surviving is what they do. Maybe the best thing is for a lot of people to NOT read about it!

Now, one more thing and I'm gone.......WHEN did it get to be cute to call a dam a "baby mama"?? THAT is my oh! so human ARRRGGGHHH moment today!

No more snarky behavior; cheers and safe trips to all.

17 Feb 2010 1:15 PM

I think this stinks!!!  Owners should be held accountable for their stupid actions.  This one takes the cake.  The sales companies should not allow this to even happen.

17 Feb 2010 1:16 PM
tea time

Where the devil is PETA when you need them?  I don't really like the organization (I think they go overboard), but maybe they could bring some attention to this, somebody needs to.  This is pitiful.

17 Feb 2010 1:34 PM

I'm positive that the vast majority of people outraged have probably never laid hands on a horse let alone a mare and foal. Mares are used to having humans handle them and their newborns, the foals follow their dams with little problems. Assuming the baby got a good drink of colostrum they are in little danger of picking up "something", first they are immunized by the colostrum and second the horses in the ring before them are all vaccinated, this isnt a meat market in Mexico after all.

As long as The Bloodhorse is pointing out windmills they will get this reaction

17 Feb 2010 2:32 PM

I have a real problem with sending a mare and newly born foal thru the sales ring. Yes, I am sure the farms are concerned with their welfare etc etc, but that doesn't make it right. Think about it, how stressful for both...

And I definitly think that Keeneland should have a video feed option available. No need to ship a baby and tired mare in the cold, ice and snow, it's really not right.

17 Feb 2010 3:28 PM

Dear "Perplexed",

Perhaps if you read more, particularly more of the comments on this blog, you'd be less "perplexed". Why don't you refute directly, and specifically those who have already addessed your uninformed remarks. As to you positivity about the vast majority here having no experience with horses, I again suggest you read more of the comments. I, for one, am very likely (been in the business breeding, raising them for nearly 50 yrs.) far more "experienced" than you. I'm also a physician...It's easy and convenient to rationalize that all will be ok; harder to troubleshoot and to cause ourselves some inconvenience. The concerns and warnings expressed here by many should be a no-brainer.    

17 Feb 2010 4:25 PM

The problem i have with this is that the owner of the mare is worth ten's of millions. And should have kept this mare and given her a wonderful retirment. shame on you live oak farm.

17 Feb 2010 6:01 PM

The people here who have never experienced attending an actual sale have no clue the ammount of FANTASTIC care these horses get. I group these people together with those who "rescue" horses from the racetrack.. They have no freaking clue.. Get off the BG blogs and return to your cubical day job.

17 Feb 2010 8:23 PM

re: Question4thebloodhorse  

You know I thought the same thing after my first post.  And that was when there were only 11 comments. Though I understand these are very tough times for those of us in the industry this is The Bloodhorse.  The Bloodhorse has integrity and would never cater to that mentality to generate interest.That being said I still checked to see who the author was. Deirdre Biles is well respected and has been with The Bloodhorse for a number of years. I would bet the farm that she was surprised at the number of aghast comments as I and others were. Actually I was more offended as well as surprised.  Which set the tone of my first post. Hopefully I did not offend those that I was trying to educate.  Even though there are numerous post trying to explain the process. There were still many that had very negative comments. And there in its self lays the conundrum that has become the damned if you do, damned if you don't media nightmare for the sport and industry. Now a days perception always trumps reality. There was not one creditable argument made by any of the negative posters. No matter what factual rebuttal others put forth.

Food for thought for The Bloodhorse, sport and industry.

Now, all that being said and the fact that I read that the subject mare was Desert Stormer I agree whole heartedly with Wayne's post. It seems out of character for Live Oak. In defense of the sales companies, one of which I was employed by, the logistics as Mr. Russell points out would be challenging. And I am not just talking technical.  For those that don't understand what I am saying then they don't understand the auction process.  Be it horses or art work. For those that say it is all about the money. Well, yes it is about money we have to make a living and pay the bills. But for the vast majority of us it not just about the money. It is what we do.

Sceptre, Perplexed made a valid comment.  And just because you have been involved with horses for 50 years does not make you a horsemen. Especially when you say you are a physician also. No disrespect intended, but the nature of you real work predisposes you to a certain mind set. Which, if I were the interviewing attorney would ask for your dismissal as a potential witness.  

A bit off topic and I hope this does not take this blog in a new direction but I can not let misinformation be passed on.  Needler in one of my very favorite states. Sorry to be your needler but Calumet is a stones throw from Keeneland and they had always walked their horses over to the sale. A tradition. It would  have taken longer and put more stress on the horses to van them and had nothing to do with the expense.  Because of the legal situation every horse regardless of age had to be sold at public auction. I read the book shortly after it came out. A good read, I'll grant you but do not take everything written as gospel. I knew the principle "actors" of that Calumet era and I can promise you there was more then a bit of embellishment and interpretation written as fact. The rest of your comments were spot on.

17 Feb 2010 8:59 PM

Dear "sceptre"

If you would read my remarks you would note I didnt imply that all those here had no horse experience (most of the readers here probably have quite a bit), but rather those who are "outraged" that a mare and foal are lead through a sales ring. You would also note that I did directly respond to the "fears" being expressed.

I dont know how many mares and foals a physician handles every day over 50 years, but I doubt its as many as an average groom handles in a month.

If you are going to pick a fight at least have a point to make.

17 Feb 2010 9:42 PM

  i am really amazed at the amount of hostility that these blog sites create. the division of opinion is great and no doubt, some of it has to do with ignorance, but in general, i believe that the so called  "bleeding hearts" of this or any other blog site have enough evidence about the treatment of horses and especially thoroughbreds, to back up their claims.

   we are all aware that seven or eight horses died on a not too long ago weekend ,competing in steeplechase racing in england or that twentysome polo ponies died due to human failure. these things are common knowledge, but i am sure that these people are also aware of the fact that over 5,000 horse died on america's race tracks in the last four years.

    from the breeding to the racing of thoroughbreds, there are literally thousands and thousands of stories that speak in a very negative way in regard to the handling of horses as a result of man's ignorance or stupidity.

   nobody wants to hear that a mare foaled outside in zero degree temperatures and that the foal was frozen to the ground or that a horse was found dead in it's stall hanging by it's halter. these things just don't happen, but in reality, they do happen.

   the group out there that assails the so-called suburbanites recite the same theme from blog to blog. we're eating rice and beans, so that we can feed our horses or we're out in six foot snow drifts, etc., etc. get rid of your horses, sell your property and get a job as a bank teller. no offense intended to bank tellers, but you know what i mean.

    i agree with sceptre. i have been in and around the racing scene for over 30 years and my input on this blog comes as a result of having bred and raised quite a few thoroughbred foals. it is not a walk in the park and anything you think might happen ,sometimes does happen ,in spite of the best forethought and preparation.

   however, having just made such a statement, i still believe that man's ignorance in regard to the handling and care of these animals plays a much larger part than anyone would ever admit.

18 Feb 2010 4:14 AM

Okay seriously, how many negative posters have attended the sales regularly?  How many have seen mares near foaling at the sales?  How many have seen foals at the sales other than videos, and photos?

Trust me, if this were so very cruel, I think it would have become a big topic long ago, after all how long have the horse sales been going on now?  

Sure a horse like Desert Stormer deserved to foal on the farm, BUT whose to say she was unhappy during her foaling?  Whose to say she didn't receive excellent care?

She never looked nervous, or scared, she moved forward when coming towards the show ring, not backward, and reassured her foal the entire trip.  If anything she was the most excellent example of how you would want a mare and foal to handle going into a sale.

All the other horses I noticed were curious more than stressed or scared.  The foals are handled by people who know what they are doing because a majority of the handlers at the sales only work the sales - going from sale to sale from state to state, handling horses of all ages.  And I've come to know many familiar, and very wonderful faces in those people.  In fact, some I"ve worked side by side with!  It's not like these horses are thrown to the wolves when they are put into a sale.  They know how much a horse can handle, and if they are tired, they'll back off of them as much as they can.

Check out these pics and tell me how stressed out these mamas and babies are?  THey aren't.  Not one bit.  The only thing I noticed that made ears flick was the speaker on the side of the building as they come around the far turn.  At one time there were two babies in the walking ring at the same time.


One foal was about a month old, 2 others about a week or so old, and the other was 2 days old - born on the sales grounds and was just fine...  And one of my favorites from that group.

The foal always goes with mama, and seemed very unaffected, even when being shown. But I give the credit to the mamas for being so calm and not showing any fear in their surroundings/situation.  

It's silly for people to jump the gun, want to call in PETA, and start a protest, complaints, etc.  Seriously people, with a prestigious venue like Keeneland for example, do you honestly think they would belittle their standards and allow such a cruel act to go on?  Doubtful, so don't say it's cruel.   Keeneland is a very respectful place, they strive to make things better at the sales and in the racing sport itself, they are very very traditional, but are run by wonderful people who again, strive to make it a good experience for all involved.   I think that is one reason I love Keeneland so much.  They do try very hard, as I stated yesterday, when a mare and foal come to the ring, they take precautions to keep them safe, and relaxed.

Everyone has their reasons for selling.  Maybe they can't afford another mouth to feed?  Maybe they think the mare will bring more being close to foaling, so her new owners can breed her to whomever they want?   Maybe these smaller breeders can't afford the mare's stud fees from the standing stallion, and need to sell in hopes of paying the fee, or have some kind of arrangement with the stallion farm to sell and split the $$ to make up for any losses.  I don't know how rare that is, BUT I know it happens, and I've heard from a few people I know that they have had to do the same thing.  You go in with the hopes you can afford it, and in the end you just can't.  You gain more horses, and realize your in over your head.  

Having horses is expensive enough, having foaling mares is a whole other ballfield that can be very very costly.

A mare who is nervous by nature, is the ones I worry the most about.  The mares who are covered in sweat, wide eyed, and fearful when they experience any kind of change.  I'd be terrified to send a mare like that close to foaling into a sale.  A usually calm, easy going mare who accepts change easily, I see no problem with her going to the sale, foaling at the sale since they have watchful eyes on them.   These owners, and consignors aren't stupid, they know if a mare is going to foal, and will ensure they get the care they need.  

BUT I still like the idea of a mare not being entered 2 weeks around their due date.  And still believe those horses should go into the sale in November. If they foal at the sale?  well read what I said above.

Honestly, I really don't see why this blog was posted without comments from consignors and how things are really handled at the sales.  It doesn't make sense to me to have comments about 'seperating a mare and foal' when seperating them just never happens that I know of or anyone else I know that works the sales.  It's silly to make that a point of interest when the real comments should be about HOW THE MARE AND FOAL ARE HANDLED WHEN AT THE SALE.  HOW THINGS HAPPEN WITH AN EXPECTANT MARE, WHAT KIND OF PERSONNEL TAKE CARE OF THE HORSES AT NIGHT, FOALING, ETC.

That's what I would like to see.  Why not interview the consignors who have had foals at the sales before, and have experience in selling them.  Talking about seperating a mare and foal is just ridiculous.  Let's talk about what really goes on!

18 Feb 2010 11:53 AM

Horrible, just a Horrible practice!

Let them take videos of the mare and foal and not subject them to the sales ring. Those poor little newborn foals - what an awful way to start life!

18 Feb 2010 1:50 PM

Wow! I've been around horses for 44 of my 50 years.  And I must confess to the horrors of carrying a foal or two.  Both of which lived long, healthy lives.  

That mare and foal were just fine.  Someone up there offered a link...and the photo shows a happy, healthy foal and (youthful looking) mare.  

A nice piece above...asked thoughtful questions of the Keeneland sales folks.  And the thunderous response from people who seem more familiar with kittens than horses.  

Yes, there are horrific things that go on within all industries that involve animals.  This just isn't an example.

Muchado about nothing.

18 Feb 2010 2:35 PM

Hey Rachel, I'm with you!

18 Feb 2010 5:09 PM

First of all I'm glad the BH brought up this issue. Is it popular...NO.

2nd I am someone who has bred thoroughbreds and I would NEVER send a mare to sale so close to foaling. I always chose the sale that was in the best interest of the mare, even if that wasn't the best "business" decision for me.  I cannot stand to see those newborn foals go through the ring!  It's terribly stressful to both mare and foal and anyone who says differently is either lying or trying to justify their CRUELTY!  It's just amazing to see the inherent lack of compassion for these animals no matter what time of their lives.  As for anyone who compares a modern day tbrd foal to a "wild horse", well there is absolutely no comparison.  These horses are weak when first born.  It's shocking how much stronger a quarter horse foal is or any other breed.  The vast majority of tbrd foals would NEVER survive in the wild even under the best circumstances.  This practice needs to stop.  It's obvious other sales agencies in this world don't require this cruelty, so why does Keeneland and Fasig Tipton?  

18 Feb 2010 6:00 PM

there was a mare with a foal by her side at the Fasig February sale...THEY DIDN'T BRING A BID....How sad. I wonder what happened to them?  Nice way to be welcomed into the world for that foal!!

18 Feb 2010 6:02 PM


A friend of mine actually worked the Calumet dispersal.  She said one of the saddest things she ever had to do was walk an old blind Calumet mare (can't remember name) over to Keeneland to be sold.  It was heartbreaking. My friend is also a vet.  In case anyone wants to accuse her of "knowing nothing".

18 Feb 2010 6:06 PM
Midway Sue

First of all the foal wasn't "carried" it was driven beside its mother in a golf cart. Second, nothing done to the mare or foal was "cruel". The foal stood by its mother in the ring with a handler quietly. Some of the comments on this blog sound like there from people who have never attended the Keeneland sale. Get educated please. I've worked the sales in the barns and bought and sold there and have never seen horses mistreated, its not tolerated. I wonder sometimes just how much time these so called passionate fans that post on these blogs really spend a week watching and attending horse races and sales. By the way LCM I have also raised quarter horses as well as thoroughbreds and saw no difference in the strength of the foals at birth. And your friend being a vet has nothing to do with someone being heartbroke over a blind mare. I don't think you need a medical degree to figure that out. Azerigold hit the nail on the head with his post. Too many in here with their hair on fire for no reason.

18 Feb 2010 7:49 PM

I worked the Calumet dispersal, we walked them to Keeneland because it was tradition(and it was quicker than vanning). The horses were all in good shape, I didn't see any feeble, old, blind mares stumbling around. I work every sale at Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, Timonium, and Saratoga and I can tell you that sale horses are treated better than most people. I have personally taken 8-10 new foals to the ring, none of them were frail, none were tired, they usually dragged me around, bucking and playing! Foals at the sale get more handling than foals on the farm which makes them more confidant around people(imprint training). I rarely read the blog comments on here because they always seem to be from idiots who have never truly been involved in this industry but they read a book about it and now they're experts.

18 Feb 2010 7:59 PM
needler in Virginia

To Larrythejumpguy, I really DO know how far apart Calumet and Keeneland are!! I probably misspoke by referring to the chapter rather than to that one sad photo of the grooms walking the retired mares over for the dispersal. My apologies, but there really is something tragic about the whole scenario, and seeing the oldest and slowest paying the price for human foolishness really sucks. As in all other things though, it's the animals that eventually pay the price for human hubris or stupidity or. It's probably a very good thing that I don't know any animals...NOT ONE..... who has read ANIMAL FARM!

Larry, you can needle me anytime you want! If I get it wrong, I really DO want to be corrected; if I misspeak, let me know 'cause I try to get it right before I open my mouth or, at least, exercise my finger muscles on these blogs!! Keep me on the straight and narrow, and I'll return the favor.

While I will always read the rants, and ALWAYS support the writer's right to write (how about THEM apples?), there are times I MUST respond because what appears more and more on the BH blogs is the "romantic" version of horses. I LOVE being around the silly beasts, and there really is something about the outside of a horse that is VERY good for the inside of humans. The thought of NOT having at least one horse in my life is not acceptable. If I'm still above the grass tomorrow there will be a horse decorating my snow-covered pasture....end of story. HOWEVER, the NATIONAL VELVET's and BLACK STALLION's and MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE's and MY FRIEND FLICKA's and BLACK BEAUTY's have created the myth of a human in a horse's body; it AIN'T SO, FOLKS! The books are grand and wonderful reading; they are part of every child's life, they are fun and interesting and romantic, but they are not real nor do they present the truth of horses. To get THAT, you gotta BE around 'em and feed 'em and pick their feet and hot walk 'em and groom 'em and pick their stalls and bathe 'em and clip bridle paths and pick MORE stalls, etc, etc, etc. THAT'S the truth of having horses. The truth of having horses is also that you must be ready for any damned craziness that comes down the pike, the fright at a puff of wind, the wild and rolling eyes over a noisy truck, the pinning of ears over the interruption of a meal, the squint to the eye that says "not today, buster". The corollary to that is that you must be ready to convince the animal that its' "no" really means "yes". You can NOT beat that into 'em; you must use cunning and craftiness and love and affection and more than a bit of begging. I've tried all of the above and, more often than not, I'm successful; then again, sometimes not! The trick is to take the horse for what he is: a not-the-sharpest-tool-in-the-shed creature who will eventually trust (if given reason to do so), and carefully encourage that trust into a long friendship. Which brings me right back to the mare and foal question; keep the pair together, keep the pair healthy, keep the pair fed and safe and I'll bet, auction ring or no, they'll come out of the experience fine. After all, it is the job of the dam to teach her foal; her attitude at the sales pavilion will teach that foal VOLUMES and if she goes into the ring comfortably, so will the foal. Besides, auctions are a fact of life; why not make the best of the situation by trying to make it a "comfortable" experience for the foal?? You can bet it won't be the only time he sees the inside of a sales barn!

Cheers and safe trips.

18 Feb 2010 9:58 PM

Anyone posting here that can defend this or just about any aspect of the horse racing industry is making a living off it. They would defend anything as long as the money keeps coming in. Gonna defend the dumping of thousands of TB'S that end up in slaughterhouses every year? Larrythejumpguy and others like you; yournot kidding anyone. You exploit these animals for FINANCIAL GAIN, period! Where do your horses go when no longer profitable? Oh yeah I know, it'sbusiness. Better sell your property because horse racing has refused to clean up its act and will soon be but a sad memory.Then you can dump all your horses at auction and retire to your 3 mil.

18 Feb 2010 10:52 PM

First of all, it is always amusing to hear the outrage uneducated ppl(no industry exp) have in a situation like this. Having worked at breeding farms and various sales for the past 10 years I actually know what goes on "behind the scenes". Like others have pointed out, there is a very small percentage of mares that foal at the sales or go through the ring with a foal at side. Obviously there are night watch men looking after these mares, and helping with foaling. What do you imagine a new foal does when born in the wild as well as the occasional accidental foal born in the pasture in the middle of the night? They get up and move. If there were any negative effects of a foal or mare going through the ring directly after foaling then its unlikely knowledgeable horsemen would have paid $135,000. You people need to remember that a horse is a lot tougher than a human and while you may get stressed out and develop heart conditions because the girl at starbucks forgot the cream in your tall drip non fat whip easy foam soy double shot mocha latte... Doesn't mean an animal is as fussy and fragile as you, or being mistreated for walking a 1/4 of a mile the day after foaling. Take a breath, they do that.

18 Feb 2010 11:36 PM

To Larrythejumpguy, Perplexed, etc...Temple Grandin wasn't a "cattleman" (or "cattlewoman"), but those who daily ran and worked at those cattle slaughter operations would be deemed )at least-"cattleslaughtermen" and, perhaaps, "cattlemen". Curious, isn't it, that she, and not they, revolutionized for the far better, both efficiency-wise, and morally their industry. I'd be curious to learn what is your definition of a "horseman". A handler who leads them over at the sale is often far from a horseman. Same could be said for many officials at Keeneland and Fasig. And many who would be deemed "horseman" by most in reality know very little about equine psychology and physiology.  

19 Feb 2010 12:52 AM

The people need to contact Mr. Russell at Keeneland, and demand this practice be stopped immediately. There is strength in numbers- Lets voice our opionions NOW- REALLY voice them! Call Keeneland--- leave messages and call again-

19 Feb 2010 9:27 AM
needler in Virginia

LHart.....I have never made one penny on horses, except maybe a crappy trifecta at Saratoga; I have never sold a horse or rented one or leased one or gone into a foal share agreement. NEVER. The horses we have, we have chosen to keep because they are our friends and because we do not throw away friends like used kleenex. THEY are our financial responsibility, we pay for their feed, their vet care, their foot care and their sessions with their shrink. They do not represent a dollar figure for us.....we are lucky that way.......and I resent that you place ALL horseman in that category. I would be far more willing to listen to your rant if you knew what you were talking about. There are horse lovers, caretakers, grooms, hotwalkers, outriders, trainers, exercise riders, farriers, vets who do NOT get rich at their chosen livelihoods....far more than those that do. There have been times for us when the vet bill came first over another bill because the horses are in our care and it is OUR job to care for them.....full stop. We bought them, raised them, trained them and here we are now caring for aging equines. They will NOT be sold; they will die at home with us. MORE FOLKS THAN YOU KNOW DO THE SAME THING ALL THE TIME. The only reason you carry on like this is that you only know about the side of racing that sets your hair on fire. Visit ANY breeding farm in the Bluegrass, or Texas, or Louisiana, or New Mexico, or California or any other damned place you can think of and I'd bet you might learn a thing or two about how these poor, sad, mistreated critters live. YES, there are crappy, miserable, selfish, cruel people who wouldn't know how to care for a Breyer horse, never mind a real one..........THOSE are the ones you read about and hear about and cause the most stir...... but DO NOT

paint all of racing and/or horse owners with your broad brush.

PLEASE do a little more research before you shout at us, and don't rely on your heart when you do.... rely on what you actually see and hear; rely on objective evidence rather than a tale of cruelty and neglect or worse, an "well, I heard from a friend....." You MIGHT find more people willing to listen if you could present an objective argument in defense of your position....a position backed with facts, photos and direct testimony...otherwise, rant and rave and carry on about ALL of us, but you had better come loaded for bear if you ever accuse me of what you so casually wrote above.

Cheers and safe trips.

19 Feb 2010 4:10 PM

Call Keeneland all you want, waste your time if you wish. Nothing will change because nothing is being done wrong. Although I'm sure they will get a kick out of your messages (as I'm sure many are on here, including myself). This is just like foolish peta ppl suggesting that nobody should keep pets, or put a dog on a leash, etc. because it is "cruel and unnatural". I am all for animals being treated ethically, and do so with the animals I own, and work with, and unfortunatly there are many out there who do not treat them with respect, but this is definatley not one of those situations. But like I said we all need a good laugh sometimes :)

19 Feb 2010 4:48 PM

I have owned horses and have raised foals and I can tell you none of my mares and foals would ever be presented at a sale one day after foaling!! If it is necessary to sell the mare most buyers will let the foal stay with the mare until an early weaning can be arranged. Then and only then would they be seperated. A big multi-million dollar operation didn't NEED to sell the mare and foal at that age. They did for one reason only, their convenience!! I've seen some mare colic after foaling just because of stress. A sale ring with all the activity is no place for a new born foal and his dam.  I know what work it is to keep a farm going and the 24 -7

it takes to keep the horses fed and healthy but it is worth it all.

I feel honored to work with these

magnificent animals and I will not

compromise their care for my convenience.

19 Feb 2010 5:34 PM
c stables

just an update on Desert stormer and foal both are doing great .The foal never looked back from his sales ring trip and both are enjoying been spoiled in the bluegrass.

19 Feb 2010 8:06 PM

Horses are LIVESTOCK! Please stop acting like they are human beings. They are not! If you can't handle animals being treated - humanely - like animals, then yes, by all means, leave this "horrible dream" of a sport behind....but thanks for postponing your boycott until its convenient for you. (Now that's righteous outrage!)  

The fact valuable racehorses and breeding stock receive better care and physical protection than many less fortunate human beings in this country - not selling mares heavy in foal or with foals at side - should make us all all take pause.

I know you folks love horses and mean well, but dang....grow up!

19 Feb 2010 8:23 PM

The inclusion of this article really is not helpful with all the other problems the racing industry is having now. Most of the people  responding here obviously do not have horses and are only involved with NOW horses. Common sense would be nice. Some of the people here are horse people. While I do not think the timing of this sale is very good. Horses, much as I love them are a way of life which translates to the way horse people make a living. There is good and bad in every way of life, it's too bad the worst has been so public lately. Having bred show dogs for 25 years I reserve judgement on alot I see happening because there is always--the rest of the story--which is usually  not told. Most people trying to sell their horses are not the bad guys, some of what they see as normal is upsetting for people whose only contact is the written word or TV. I really think the Blood-Horse should be more careful about what they print.

19 Feb 2010 9:28 PM

I'm not "in" the racing industry, I dont have any money invested into race horses. That being said I do own horses and am not really concerned with this practice.  If you could show me data that says vets have to get called more often to mare and foals stalls or something that was factual instead of emotional I might reconsider. But what worries me most is the use of the word cruel. What is cruel? Is it just stress,Is it physical pain? what exactly. I look at a healthy mare and foal who are given attention and proper care and I dont see cruelty in that. Instead of people going after a place like Keeneland for this try going to you local auction house this time of year and you can see a grade mare who's 300lbs under weight with a sickly foal at her side. Fight there, those are the ones that really, truely need help. Just my opinion though.

19 Feb 2010 9:30 PM

Will these people leave keenland out of this its a company and a damn good one. why do some people criticise them for trying to make a profit, that is the goal of the company you work for? just because their profit is made by animals at their facility for a week or so.they're supposed to be responsible for what the owner decides to sell in their sale? there could be more to the reason for sale than meets the surface.for you who think that the slaughter is so terrible, well it is but thats the fault of the people who forced the american houses out of business. it was still bad but far better than the canadian or mexican houses. further on who is to say that a horse is too good for slaughter but thousands of cows and other livestock meet this fate every day. if you dont have horse and believe a foal going through the ring is such a bad then you should leave horse sales alone and attack the veal industry or something.but for the people who decide to call me cruel before you say it id like to let you know none of my horses go to slaughter. well thats my 2 cents

19 Feb 2010 10:20 PM

bossmare, I LOVE racing, it's the business end I've come to dislike (mostly from all the exposure here on BH, lol) to the point that I don't think I can be an owner. (e.g. Undocumented chain of ownership, no transparency in medical history, suspicious bidding activities)

I am not a PETA person. In fact, I am a horse/dog person.

When I was younger I worked many jobs in racing from feeding, mucking, rubbing, wrapping, tubbing, hosing for hours on end, walking hots, exercise gal.

I have owned, bred and shown champion Arabian horses including a Grand Prix Dressage horse.

I have imported working dogs from all over the world and created a multi-generational breeding program for police dogs.

I have rehabbed & retrained many a "problem" horse and dog.

I stand by my remarks.

20 Feb 2010 6:39 AM

   i work in the medical field as a medical technologist and i have been doing this type of work for more than 40 years.

   i bring this up only to state that i've been witness to multitudes of errors that have occurred as a result of ignorance, negligence, laziness or any combination thereof. some have been life threatening and others no doubt, cost human lives. medical malpractice is well documented.

   that is why it is so amazing to read these blogs and to hear the reverberating and collective utterance of the thoroughbred people. Us? vets never misdiagnose and kill horses! unskilled handlers never let fractious horses get away from them! farriers always trim hooves to the perfect degree of angle!

   this is my perception of all of the bloggers who so passionately defend their profession and never admit to any impropriety or error. we know that this is not the case, never was and never will be.if you came down from your "high horses", maybe the bleeding hearts would have a little better understanding of what you do and the effort you put into it.

20 Feb 2010 7:24 AM

I was at a Quarter-horse Sale in Oklahoma City and I had a mare that was consigned to sell and she was pregnant.  Nearing time for the sale  she began to come into labor. Not only Did the sale company allow me to postpone the sale, The made several announcements that the mare and foal would not be coming into the ring therefore possible buyers needed to further inspect the lot back in the barn area. I don't see why this would not work in the Thoroughbred industry.

20 Feb 2010 9:08 AM


Never in my 35 years of being involved with horse racing have I read something so disturbing as your post.

20 Feb 2010 1:09 PM


You should contact Fasig Tipton as well.  In fact the majority of mares with foals selling do so at the February sale, as a good number of mares are due at that time. From what I could tell, it seemed a lot of the mares with foals at their side were sold by Select Sales agency.  At least that was my impression.

20 Feb 2010 3:28 PM

You have to be crazy to allow such a thing. I don't give a damn how much the horse is or when the sell is. Pull her and baby out of sell. This is so cruel beyond words. Humans can be the worst for animal kind. Someone should of stopped this. In my eyes the same kind of people would sell to killer buyers.

20 Feb 2010 8:38 PM

Somethingroyal- re-your remark about Ava's suggestion that we contact Keeneland about the matter. If her suggestion is indeed the most "disturbing" thing you've read in 35 yrs. related to the horse industry you either don't read, or have a rather warped ethic. So, her suggestions is, for example, more "disturbing" than the relatively recent Paragallo fiasco (to name but one of many)? Speaks volumes as to where your head is at-protect the industry at all costs.  

20 Feb 2010 9:05 PM

While I agree this is wrong, people always look at the bad of Horse racing. They assume way to much. Things have begun to change such as steroids/drugs and the racetrack surfaces. Also, when people say the sport should be banned they need to think how many more people would be without jobs, the revenue the state makes, how many more unwanted horses sent to slaughter(not being raced) Hey may bebad to say but it is true.

20 Feb 2010 10:55 PM

Needler in Virginia-

Why so cranky? Do not try to catagorize me as someone to be dismissed because I don't know what I'm talking about. A close relative of mine owns one of the top ten thoroughbred horse farms in KY; VERY well known. He knows how I feel. I know every aspect of this "business". I'm around it always. I have spent time at horse farms in KY, NY and Ocala for years. You immediately assume I know nothing about it because I dont agree with it. Thatshow I grew to despise it, being around it for so long. I know what goes on, have seen it first hand. Facts, first hand accounts, photos and documentation of the abuse that goes on, got it all. Research? What a joke! Funny you mentioned Saratoga. My latest research project is nursing a 11 year old gelding that I just rescued after he ran his last race in October. He raced in a $1500 claiming race. Eight years ago he raced at the SPA in a grade 1 for $200,000. Total earnings over 1 mil. His thanks? thrown away with four busted ankles. I'll continue to rant until things change.

21 Feb 2010 1:08 AM

Lets hope that there is law preventing this in the future... come on  breeders.... it cant all be about making a buck for your pockets is it? a newborn foal... being carried.  come on.!!! we  rally to prevent slaughter.... what about auctioning mothers who just  delivered and new foals... where is the paws protecting them.

21 Feb 2010 4:38 AM

Can someone PLEASE take doen this blog.  All the idiots.....and I "do" mean idiots are killing....much less making the industry look bad.  I would like to ask how many of you who complained about the foal going into the sale ring have EVER sat up for nights on end waiting for a mare to foal?  How many of you have woke up to find a foal in the stall when the mare wasnt due for 3 weeks?   How many of you have slept in the barn or by the video monitor , setting you alarm clock for every 30 minutes waiting for a foal who is 3 weeks late?  It is not a science!!!!   It is not cruel to show a mare and foal!!!  It is not cruel to sell a mare and foal!!! The mare and foal are going together!!!  Its not like at the stockyard where they take the poor weak calf away from its mom and sell it to some poor soul that has to bottle feed it.  It is going to stay with it's mare.  And, if the foal were sickly....the owner would probably pull the mare from the sale.  

So, get over it please.  

21 Feb 2010 7:18 PM
Heather Benjamin

"Horselover" writes:

" ... makes me want to scream to you all to go back to your suburban back yards and look after the squirrels and birds because you know nothing about horses."

Yes, great advice. Y'all get lost, you people who don't understand a horse is just a machine to be bought and sold, and tossed when no longer profitable.

Oh wait, too late: Most of those people, a/k/a FANS, are already GONE, which is why racing is in such a state. No problem. Just keep it up and lose the REST of the fans who haven't yet walked away in disgust over industry practices.

21 Feb 2010 7:21 PM

OH MY! Don't panic. Obviously whoever wrote this has no clue about the way this is done. Of course, the mama and baby are not separated. Geeezzzzz

21 Feb 2010 8:02 PM
needler in Virginia

LHart, you have my apologies; either I missed something in your post or misread it, as it really did come across as a bit of a PETA rant. All I was trying to say (and I DID begin to lose it for a bit) is that there are loads of people caring and doing for horses with little or no actual barrels of money or medals or awards dinners. They do it because they love being around horses, as you obviously do, too. I do think many are "in it for the money" and there's the rub, but I won't revisit that, either. For some of the posters to suggest that a call to Keeneland or Fasig-Tipton would keep the mare and foal pair out of sales in, in the worst sense, a joke....for many reasons.

Rather than get myself all worked up again, I will apologize and hope you accept it. I obviously have no business posting on the 19th of ANY month! My best to you and your crooked ankle rescue baby....give him a carrot for me, please.

Cheers and safe trips.

21 Feb 2010 9:18 PM

I would like to thank the BloodHorse for taking what is a complete non-issue and turning it into near hysteria. Well Done!

22 Feb 2010 7:03 AM


Everyone is entitled to their opinion and yes I find Ava and several of the other comments disturbing. IMO, many are based on emotions rather than well researched facts. Speaking of facts. When was the last time you researched Sceptre? I believe I read she often raced with a few days rest in between races often against the boys. Where is your disgust what that practice? I agree with Lisa whoever wrote this blog for the Blood-Horse is clueless and needs their head examined. Why the Blood-Horse would allow such an article is mind boggling.  

22 Feb 2010 8:45 AM

Ok, enough already. I'm a smaller breeder and the thought of half-carrying a newborn into the sales ring is exactly why there are screams of indignation from "fans" about the state of our industry.  If you can't afford to pay the freight for momma and baby; then shame on you for the breeding! Push the sale back to another date and let the baby grow up a little. I'm not saying hang onto them until they're yearlings, but plenty of weanlings go through sales. And as for the buyers...shame on them. Looking at that tiny thing had to brings tons of questions to mind!  Is it a viable baby? What care/shots/plasma did it receive? Will it make it through the process?  Adult broodmares without the baby by their side are often rattled enough!  It can't be a good thing for the baby's mind. If you've spent the time getting the breeding right; patience is the only word you have to remember. In the end; everyone will get the result (sometimes better!) they bred for to start with...

22 Feb 2010 2:32 PM

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