Ontario horse racing crisis puts future of young Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds at risk

“Finale Seelster” – a foal recently born in Ontario – was destined to be a racehorse. Now, his future is far from certain.

Jayme Poisson Staff Reporter

LUCAN, ONT.—Finale Seelster meets the world two front hooves first.

The foal’s mother, an older brood mare of 18, is worn out from two days of labour. It takes two people and a forceful tug of the colt’s lanky front legs to pull him out onto a fresh pile of hay.

For 10 seconds, the heap of matted grey fur lies there under fluorescent barn lights, lifeless. Then, a tiny breath. Then, two.

Just like that, the aptly named Finale is born. A horse bred to kick up the dirt on local racetracks now facing closure, and maybe become the next best thing on a circuit now under siege.

The fact is, Finale’s career, and quite possibly his life, may be over before either really begins.



  1. Heather · ·

    Hopefully all of the racing stables will not breed anymore horses for at least 2 years until the truth and reality of the matter come into focus. To the stables and horse owners – to just sell off these horses, including young foals, to slaughter is irresponsible. YOU are responsible for providing a humane death, for all your horses and I would say this to any horse owner. Expecting the government to bail you out is taking the easy road and I for one, do not want my tax dollars supporting an industry that is cruel to animals, period.

    There are plenty of people that would buy these horses if you just took the time and looked and didn’t charge exorbitant prices. There is nothing wrong with some “backyard” horse owners….I am one of them, and I can tell you that my horses are very well looked after. The have regular visits from the farrier, they are wormed and fed good quality horse hay and oats. They have a barn that they are brought into during the winter and thunderstorms in the summer. They have blankets for the really cold days in the winter, fly masks and spray for the bugs in the summer and on and on……and do you know what I paid for them??? Seventeen years ago, yes I have had these horses for 17 years, I paid $500 for one, $450 for the mare and I got the other gelding for nothing as his dam refused to let him milk so I hand raised him from 3 weeks old. Yes, there are some backyard horse owners that do not treat their horses well but there are also racing stables that are cruel and inhumane towards their animals as well…..I know because I worked on one of the breeding farms where the owners didn’t care about the horses at all…..it was all about the money.

    The racing industry needs to be held accountable for providing humane methods of putting down excess horses.

  2. Debbie Richmond · ·

    Thank you, mpclark, for seeing through the manipulative tactics of this two-bit con/animal cruelty for profit industry, and shame on any complicit media that wipe their asses; their “news” and “journalism” belong in the same trash bin with the National Enquirer.

  3. Sadly many of these may be sent to slaughter right there in Ontario. Heart breaking and should be illegal.

  4. mpclark · ·

    Any breeder who would kill a foal is losing more money than if he or she sold to a private buyer.

    The insistence that all the horses will be killed needs to be countered with some common sense from horse people.

    We all know better than to listen to the endless crying from the breeders who bred anyway and then screamed they were harmed by the predictable end of their special perqs.

    Someone with a background in horses needs to state the truth about this clearly and repeatedly in media.

    These breeders are playing the sympathy game in media and if these horses are to be saved, the sympathetic press has to hear from horse people who know what they are talking about..

    Selling these horses to the private market (domestic, U S or Europe) makes sense for the breeders income. Killing these well bred horses makes no sense and harms the breeders income.

    Live horses generate income. Dead horses don’t. It is that simple.

    1. Goride · ·

      Let me start by saying that we won’t and never have euthanized a foal unless it was seriously ill or deformed. We do not approve of the practice, but do understqand the situation people are in. To paraphrase McGuinty, ” we have to make tough choices, if we have to choose feed for our horses or feed for our family, we choose family.” That is exactly this sudden decision has put people in. Had we had 3 years lead time, mares would not be bred and there would have been homes for most if not all of them.

      Now, who would you sell these horses to? Back yard pet owners who know nothing about proper care of a horse? What do you know about raising horses that , for example, Seelster Farms, a third generation breeding farm doesn’t know? Do you know how to raise them and prep them for sellling privately or publicly so that it doesn’t cost anything? How do you feed them and their mothers without paying for feed, worming, shots, farriers, farm rent or mortgage, hydro, farm labor, veterinary care, farm equipment, fencing…. the list goes on. Believe me, we would all love to know.

      It is very simple; without an income, you can’t pay bills. The number of foals effected by this situation will flood an otherwise good market, leaving few good homes available. As for “harms the breeders income,” not being able to cover the cost that is involved in bringing a horse from conception to birth is more harmful. Live horses cost money, dead ones don’t.

      1. Ryan Cherian · ·

        I don’t know anything about horses but can’t someone find a proper place for the horses? Is there anywhere that the foals that cannot be cared for by farmers live among other horses? I found this place on Google just now, http://www.secondchancefarm.ca/. I’m sure many people would be willing to help if funds need to be raised for the transportation of the horses.

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