racehorse pet health and welfare educational for animal lovers, excerpts from The Glamorous Vets,
Singapore, sponsored by AsiaHomes Internet.
A bullet in the head if the racehorse could not get up fast enough.
"01 to 09, 01 to 09.... Horse in the drain, Repeat, horse in the drain.
Bring your gun now, over...." the voice in my walkie talkie from the Chief
Stipendiary Steward cracked in the hot humid air. The message was
repeated again. There were no small mobile phones at that time. They came
with big batteries installed in a car. Even if there were, the club would
have prohibited the use, an anti-bookie measure as there were many illegal
operators with a network of runners around, competing for the same
customers as the club and giving better discount and easy credit.
The veterinarian at the public parading ring had recommended that a race horse be shot as
it had fallen into a wide drain at the end of the finishing line to the side and in front
of the grandstand.
The Chief Stipe controlled the administration of racing on race day, but
he had to accept the veterinary decision.
I remembered this bright sunny
and sweaty afternoon at the Racing Club. I was the veterinary
surgeon at the starting gate and the first race was late by 5
Race horses were being led to the parading ring so that punters could view them before
they trotted to the starting barrier. They had a pre-race inspection by the veterinarians at another parading ring reserved for
The race horses were
carefully checked just in case a "ringer" (substitute) was being sent to
race. Also, the horses were inspected to be fit for racing. The jockeys
mounted the horses here.
Now, they were held by each horse attendant to at the public viewing in this second
parading ring. Some punters had a great time booing the jockeys calling them "Leslie, kayu
(wood)". They probably had lost their bets in a horse ridden by Jockey Leslie
earlier. Nine-nine percentage of them were men, crammed at the grilled gates.
I was the duty veterinarian at the starting barrier where the racehorses would trot to
after this parade. There was a section of an open drain on the left side of the
track as the horse trotted to the barrier.
The barrier was located a few seconds' gallop at the far end of the grandstand. No
racehorse had ever fallen into this drain in my 7 years of practice at this race track.
The Club Committee would not like races to be delayed. Time was of the
It would take some time to get this horse out. But how to do it within 5 minutes?
A distressed horse stuck in a drain and struggling to get up would make it fearful
for other fellow creatures to race. The other race horses could sense fear and might stop racing once they saw another horse
in distress, leading to accidents.
Was there a
way to get a 500-kg race horse out of a wedge shaped drain which was
much deeper than the picture shown on the left? Would strong men be
the answer to this predicament?
Would the gelding die after a while, from exhaustion?
I was in the middle of examining a racehorse at the barrier. One was restless
and had bolted out of the starting stall. A jockey complained that his horse was lame and it needed to be taken out of the
race. Sometimes, it was because too many bets had been taken and somebody would lose
money if the horse won.
"Get the gun and come over now!" the walkie talkie command from the Stipe
repeated twice with some urgency.
It was already 10 minutes since he called. The race would be delayed by 10 minutes.
Every delay meant that the last race might be held in darkness as there were 10 races on
that day. Singapore's evening darkness started around 6.30 p.m. There were no flood
lights as there was no night racing.
In this case, it was fortunate that the delay of 15 minutes gave the horse time to
get up and was led out of the drain.
Had I rushed down in my Club car much within a minute of being called, the humane killer
might have ended the life of this beautiful athlete.
There would be blood and horror in front of the racing public.
How to shoot a horse in a large monsoon drain? How would I position the humane killer at
the horse's head when the horse was inside a big monsoon drain, I still could not figure
syce (stable hand) loved his horse very much as he risked being kicked by
jumping into the drain to soothe the horse which was hyperventilating, a
sign of great distress at being unable to get out of the drain.
The horse found its legs
and was able to get out of the drain, just as my jeep arrived at
the grandstand area.
"Fortunately, you were late in coming," said the Australian Chief Stipendiary
Steward as we
both felt relieved that the horse was spared a speedy execution to
relieve it of suffering and a protracted period of distress before dying
inside the drain.
We did not want healthy horses to be shot.
It would be extremely difficult to get a race horse from a drain if it
was a deeper one. Should a crane be used? Where would we find a crane to lift up a live horse? Somebody
might get kicked by the horse. The crane might be damaged by the strong kick.
Would the struggling horse die soon as they are highly strung creatures?
Some do die and it was heart pain to see them dying. Modern racing clubs nowadays have all drains covered or fenced up as one
racehorse down the drain is one too many.
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