For sale or slaughter


Updated 2 days ago

 Horses have taken over Murray McConnell’s office.

Murray McConnell, of Casimir Farm, greets a mare and her three-week-old foal at the farm in Hagar on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. See video at JOHN LAPPA/THE SUDBURY STAR/QMI AGENCY

There are books about horses, portraits of horses, statues of horses, and then there’s McConnell himself. In the industry since the 1970s, the standardbred horse breeder is completely immersed in his farm.

“I bought my first Standardbred (horse) in 1974,” he said. “I’m from London, Ont. A lot of my friends were farmers. When I moved, I always wanted to (be around) horses.”

This, beyond any other reason, is why McConnell can’t sleep at night. It’s not that he doesn’t try. He goes to bed at 9 p.m.

Then stays awake for hours, thinking about his horses. And which ones will have to be killed because of the provincial government’s decision to get rid of the Slots at Racetracks program, which will go into affect next March.

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  1. Amen, you dont deserve these horses.

  2. 2fasthorses · ·

    I agree! If you can breed these horses you should have made consideration long long ago how to take care of them not send to slaughter! We have 2 OTTB’s rescued 10 years ago; both are wonderful riding horses. You don’t deserve these horses if you can’t do right by them.

  3. Mary-Joe Figueira · ·

    I agree. Check out Standardbred Showcase. These are shows put together to promot the SB horse as a riding and show horse. These horses are getting popular as they are cheap to adopt and with some training become very rideable. They also have wonderful minds. We have one in our barn and she is a young horse and quite as a mouse. It never ceases to amaze me. I am hoping this government falls and that there will be a reelection. Just because the government plans to do this, does not mean it is going to happen. Hopefully there will be lots of people behind the scenes working to find a solution. However, you are looking at 26,000 horses at risk both SB and TB. How are we ever going to find homes for these.

  4. mpclark · ·

    Another thought: since Standardbreds can also be typical riding horses, having a performing drill team or two is another way to be use horses/riders for hire for public appearances. That would likely involve more upfront costs re insurance for that aspect. That is another part-time option for a stable of these horses. Add that to the option of having a team appear and the potential for profits increase.

    I was a member of a drill team when I was young and crowds enjoyed our performances. We got called for events a lot.

  5. mpclark · ·

    Everybody is right. The biz idea of having a (for hire) livery for special events (anniversaries, birthdays, biz events, marriage proposals, marketing, sports events, school events, biz advertising at parades etc) sounds smart. I am thinking along the lines of the Budweiser Clydesdales.

    You have a history of Standardbreds in that area, I would assume. Events pay for appearances. The only missing element is training which I would guess is available locally.

    So, let’s say a small group pools resources and approaches a breeder with this idea: break these horses to drive reliably and our small biz group can pay for biz costs. The costs plus profits will be recouped with appearances at events.

    The training is the important aspect–those horses have to be broke to tolerate groups, crowds, noise, some traffic etc. The horses can appear for set periods of time as arranged.

    The horses’ health and welfare comes first since they are the income generators. Having a good vet and farrier close by is good idea. The horses have to be in good condition and make a fine appearance. They would need to be able to draw different kinds of vehicles. The training would have to allow for keeping standby horses ready in case a horse might not be able to perform on a certain day. They would be kept as alternates.

    This stuff sells–witness the success of the Budweiser Clydesdales here (US). This service would need to be relatively affordable and compete with other kinds of special event marketing. This could exist as a biz in itself and still promote other biz which hires it. I would think any such group would want to start local and expand. The maximum number of horses would be desirable. Every horse has a different talent and having that available pool of talent gives more options.

    I don’t see a limit to this kind of attention-getting advertising element. Using horses for events is popular since few people see them anymore on regular basis. They make quite a splash when they appear anywhere and they naturally attract people. This makes it an excellent advertising idea.

    Standardbreds are reputed to be less inclined to run hot and to be versatile and more easy going. I have not had one but they have a good rep according to what I have read. After they are trained to drive and/or carry a rider, they are worth more on the market and future sales to private owners would be an option. They would be considered valuable for riders who need a reliable (“bombproof”) horse.

    There are many options for careers when horses get through the first stages of training. Horses generate income as long as they live. They always have.



  7. mpclark · ·

    Live horses generate income. Breeders here in OH sell or use horses from track or not used at tracks as riding horses, write-offs for donation to rescues and as school horses, etc. When breeders claim they are going to kill their horses, they are engaging in emotional blackmail and hope to get others to take care of their obligations. We have breeders in the US who have similar agendas. Breeders need to be responsible for the lives they create. Killing horses is not necessary, costs lost income to all and is not a “solution” to anything. Anyone who sees killing as an answer to business issues needs to leave the business. They do not belong in it. This is exactly why slaughter has to end. It is used as an excuse. It prevents the intelligent, income generating alternatives which grow jobs and bring in income. In the US, bills HR2966 & S1176.

    1. 2fasthorses · ·

      You got it exactly right!

  8. Jill and Andy · ·

    The price of gas is a key , I have been thinking….. HARD . Standardbred Racehorses are broke to drive yet they are the most at risk for slaughter …. If you think about it like I have ….they are our future. .They know how to accept a harness and could easily pull a wagon or a cart with a person or two . Most people I know love horses ……….Bring back the livery services. As a kid . I waited for the Rag and Bones Man in England to come . Why ? I wanted to pet the horse .. Life is so cruel every horse could have a purpose . They say everything old is new again …. Let’s bring the bread box back . Hand delivered by horse and carriage. My dream . My Wish . Sucks to be old ……..!

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