Letter to the Editor: Ben Walden


Ben Walden | Horsephotos

How important was Sid Fernando’s TDN article of last Friday on the subject of Lasix? Let’s be honest. In recent times, we have seen a variance of political correctness within our beloved industry, similar to that which has overtaken culture and society at large today. And in both cases, both sides are motivated by a genuine concern for its subject. When it comes to the men and women of the horse industry, that concern is for their horses. What concerns me is that much like what’s happened in America, one side of the debate on Lasix has become more and more reticent to speak up. In light of this, I was grateful to read Sid’s column on the subject. In the past year I have spoken to several knowledgeable horsemen and horsewomen who believe that Lasix is a blessing to our racehorses for many of the reasons that were articulated in Sid’s article. But each one of them expressed a reluctance to share that position for reasons of political correctness.

Like it or not, our thoroughbred racehorses bleed. They have bled. They will continue to bleed. As a horseman, I believe this option of treatment is the kindest and most effective way to go…the alternatives being horses bleeding profusely whether in training or in the afternoon, or “old-school” practices that horsemen and horsewomen would be left with if Lasix were taken out of the equation, or expensive alternatives only a few would be able to employ for reasons of cost. There is no doubt that the men and women pushing for abolishing current Lasix parameters love their horses. But no more than those who understand this treatment to the fullest and advocate for it. And there is another side of this debate, and that is the horsemen and horsewomen themselves that would be significantly hurt by this change. Most of them are “bread-and-butter” folks that love racing, love their horses, and sustain the industry below the top. Their voices aren’t as loud in most cases. But they are horse trainers and horse owners who are often more in touch with the realities of this debate than anyone.

Lastly, I have two thoughts to add. First, let the opinions of the veterinarians and the horsemen on the front line carry significant weight in this discussion. And second, why don’t we spend our hard-earned energy, time, and money developing a better treatment for this malady in our horses, instead of doing away with the only known way to humanely help them before we have solutions? Finally, we have a lot of issues to solve outside of this one that, in my opinion, are far more pressing to our industry in this very fragile time.

Ben Walden
Walden Bloodstock

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