Horses and the Law was launched three years ago with one main objective in mind: to make complicated legal issues that affect the horse industry understandable. It wasn’t always easy—legalese sometimes can be as incomprehensible as Swahili—but it was always interesting. Most of the topics were serious, a few others not so much, but all of them had an impact, one way or another, on you and your horses.
With 152 columns in the archives, some 100,000 words written, and 1,000 or so comments from all of you, it’s time for me to focus more on book projects and longer magazine features. My latest book will be out in a few weeks with an unlikely subject: the best Thoroughbred race horse that you’ve never heard of. I’m already scouting around for ideas for the next book and I’m pretty sure I won’t get bored. I’m equally sure I’ll miss your comments.
A Lesson from Bobby Jones
I’ll leave you with one last thought, an observation that’s more of an ethical issue than a legal one.
There was quite a bit of media hoopla a few weeks ago when the owners of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another decided to pass up the Belmont Stakes—and a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another had some physical problems leading up to the race, and rather than risk injury to the horse, his owners decided to retire him.
It was a prudent choice under the circumstances, and it was undoubtedly the right thing to do for I’ll Have Another.
What bothers me about the entire affair is that horse racing appears to have gotten so dysfunctional that "doing the right thing" attracts attention mainly because it happens so seldom. It should be the other way around. Doing the right thing should be the rule rather than the exception.
Just ask Bobby Jones.
In the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open golf championship, the renowned amateur called a one-stroke penalty on himself when his golf ball moved a fraction of an inch after he had taken his stance. He was alone in the fairway, no one else saw the ball move, he gained no advantage at all, and only Jones would have been the wiser if he had ignored the infraction. In the end, after adding the penalty to his scorecard, Jones lost the championship by a single stroke.
The press tried to heap praise on Jones for his honesty in following the rules of golf to the letter, but he would have none of it.
"You just might as well praise me for not breaking into banks," Jones was quoted as saying afterward. "There is only one way to play this game."
There’s also only one way to race horses, or show them, or breed them, or care for them—with integrity and compassion, even when no one’s looking. When a question arises affecting your horses, ask yourself: what would Bobby Jones do?
Maybe there’s even a market for stretchy plastic bracelets with a horse head and the engraved message: WWBJD?
Thanks for reading!