Diana Pikulski

Equine Ethics: Savvy Racing

Editor's note: Ethics is a critical reflection on how we should act and why from a moral point of view. Animal ethics studies how and why we should take nonhuman animals into account in our moral decisions. Because of public pressure and increased understanding on the sentient nature of animals, use of animals in sport and entertainment is being questioned in a way like never before. In this new series, Equine Ethics, Diana Pikulski, a former criminal defense attorney and Executive Director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, takes a look...

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Equine Ethics: A Case for Teaching the Language of Horses

Editor's note: This column is the first in our new series about the strides horse racing is making to advance the ethical treatment of racehorses. On many levels, those in horse racing and breeding are working to ensure the sport is humane and ethical. New studies and standards about track surfaces, stress, medications, diagnostics and more, shed light on how to ensure the safety and comfort of racehorses. Enforcement of anti-doping regulations has reached a new level with better use of surveillance, hotlines and other anti-crime tactics. And in the...

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OP/ED: What's Next in the Fight to Ban Horse Slaughter in the U.S.?

For close to 20 years, activists have been working to protect American horses by lobbying for a federal ban on horse slaughter, rallying each year to keep the inspection of horse slaughter plants defunded and continuously working to pass the Save America's Forgotten Equine (SAFE) Act. The next 30 days are important in the push for a federal ban on horse slaughter. Every one in the racing business can have a hand in helping to pass a ban. In March 2021, the TDN interviewed veteran animal welfare lobbyist Chris Heyde,...

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The Safe Act and Slaughter: Q & A With Chris Heyde

   Chris Heyde is the founder of Blue Marble Strategy, LLC, a government affairs firm in Washington, D.C., which is the country's leading animal protection lobbyist. Heyde has been working towards passing a ban on horse slaughter in the United States for almost 20 years, serving as head of government and legal affairs for 17 years for the Animal Welfare Institute, the nation's oldest federal animal protection legislation program. Before entering the animal protection field, Chris was vice president of a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that represented clients from health...

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NY Favorites, Top Sire Lines, Head to Empire State

The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund's incentive and rewards program continues to drive new interest and investment in New York stallions, particularly those whose pedigrees fit the race conditions and surfaces of the New York Racing Association (NYRA). Sons of champions and horses that were popular and successful in New York are debuting at stud and coming with significant mare bookings generated in part by the buyers' market at the breeding stock sales during the past three months. Rick Burke's Irish Hill Century Farm, established by his...

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If Something Needs to Get Done, Ask A Busy Pre-Med Student

Peyton Skaggs is a junior in the Lewis Honors College of the University of Kentucky studying neuroscience and psychology. She was recently accepted into the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine Early Assurance Program. Somehow, she also found time to start The Working Cat Project (WCP), a nonprofit based out of Lexington, KY. The goal of WCP is to build a network of property owners willing to provide a safe haven for at-risk feral cats as barn cats. The program is nearing the 100 cats-placed milestone and has networked with...

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Second Chances Farm Manager Heidi Richards Made the Program Happen and is Awarded by CA

Heidi Richards is a lifelong horsewoman and rancher. She grew up riding, and at age 16, began working at a Thoroughbred training center. Since that time, Richards has re-trained and transitioned more than 100 off-track Thoroughbreds. When Richards moved to Coalinga, California, a city in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, for college, she began a 10-year career at Harris Farms where she worked in every aspect of the breeding and training of Thoroughbreds. Her career on the farm ended when Richards began to feel conflicted about the...

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If We Open It, Will They Come?

The scope and pace of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected daily life, the national economy, and by extension, the Thoroughbred racing business, is dizzying. For so many, the hardest aspect of the pandemic-induced crisis is the uncertainty about if and when things will go back to the old normal. The pandemic is like nothing we have experienced before and therefore, we have no models on which to rely. With the delayed opening of most racetracks, and with others having no opening day in sight, many people are asking if...

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Serenity and Grace

In 2018, Wendy Cyr wasn't quite ready to get another horse but often scanned the available off-track Thoroughbreds on the Thoroughbred Adoption Network. This time was different. She came to a dark gray one-eyed mare named Cosmic Serenity (Cosmonaut- Gracefully Done) aka Serena, listed by ACTT Naturally. Cyr's last horse was a gray mare named Serena who had to be euthanized at age 20 and her childhood mount was an off-track Thoroughbred with one eye who took her through pony club. She showed the post to her husband. "My husband...

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Thoroughbreds Give Combat Veterans a New Lease on Life at Down The Stretch Ranch

Boone McCanna was one of the leading jockey agents in Northern California, and prior to that in Washington, having represented Kevin Krigger, Dennis Carr, and Frank Alvarado among others. A third-generation horseman, McCanna had a vision to combine the tranquility of the his family's horse ranch outside Spokane, where his father would rest his racehorses in the off-season, with off-track Thoroughbreds and veterans in need of relief from the effects of PTSD suffered while serving in combat. In 2014, with the help of Jerry and Janet Hollendorfer, Down The Stretch...

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USVI To Serve As Home To Training Program In Advanced Horse Care

Edited Press Release The US Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections has partnered with the Virgin Islands Equestrian Equine Therapy Project, Inc. (VIEETP), to provide The Elite Program, a training course in horse care and horse training, to eligible inmates at the Golden Grove Correctional Facility in St. Croix. The goal of the program is to provide job skills and equine assisted therapy to incarcerated men and women thereby lowering the rate of recidivism and increasing wage-earning opportunities for the inmates upon release. Horse behavior, anatomy and physiology, first aid, ground...

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