By Jane Fieberts
NEW YORK, 10 FEBRUARY 2008-Daniel Edwards'
appropriation of Barbaro's story for one of his media mockeries
surely had among its intended targets those who become
exercised over whatever celebrity, animal, vegetable or
mineral, the 24-hour, 360-degree media dangle in front of their
However, one of our readers, Jane Fieberts of
Monroe, CT , offered an thoughtful, impassioned
response that reminded us that there are some whose interest in
the Barbaro story, and in the humane treatment of horses and
other animals, is much more substantial and legitimate.
Fieberts is an editorial consultant based in Monroe,
Connecticut. A fan of racing since the mid-1960s with an
abiding interest in the beauty and nobility of the
thoroughbred, she was a staff writer for two national racing
magazines in the United States. She also advocates for the
development of treatements for laminitis, and against the
export of horses from the U.S. to neighboring countries for
I am certainly in agreement that the media fawns excessively
over "celebrities," but a horse injured in a horrific accident
did not seek to be a "celebrity."
Certainly neither did his modest and gracious owners, or the
trainer (who, by the way is a legitimate hero, having carried
the U.S. flag as an equestrian competitor in the Olympics just
five years after rescuing three children from a burning plane
that crashed in an Iowa cornfield but who has never sought the
spotlight), the jockey (whose mother was FINALLY given a visa
to enter the U.S. the very same day she died from the cancer
she could have been treated for here), the lead surgeon, who
struggled daily to do everything in his power to effect a cure
or the dedicated staff at the New Bolton Center who endeavor to
treat every patient as if he or she were a champion, or the
people such as myself who became tagged as Fans of Barbaro.
Long after Barbaro died--and the story left the media
spotlight-- many people have continued to take inspiration from
his courage--courage which we would not have seen without the
media having access to his treatment during all those
months--to go on and do excellent things in his name. We have
saved nearly 2,000 horses from slaughter by raising more than
$800,000 to pay off killer buyers and support horse rescues
across the country; on the
29th, a total of $10,000 was handed over in checks consisting
of $10 and $20 donations from people who want to see the
disease of laminitis --the disease that ultimately caused
Barbaro's death--cured. (This affects all horses, not just
The New Bolton Center has received almost $2 million in
donations and support to fund research against this disease and
to help support the purchase of needed equipment such as the
sling and recovery pool that allows horses to awake from
anesthesia without injuring themselves. New Bolton treats all
kinds of animals from the typical cat or dog to exotic
creatures from zoos. Because of the Barbaro "story,"
applications are up at veterinary schools across the country.
Every day, people call their Congressional representatives or
those in states other than their own, and ask them to bring the
anti-slaughter horse bills S311 and HR503 up for a vote. This
would end the transportation of horses to Mexico and Canada for
slaughter. They do nothing; are we surprised? However, in the
last week, a flood of calls from citizens just like myself
stopped cold an attempt by the South Dakota legislature to
build a slaughterhouse in that state.
Where is the media to cover all THIS grassroots effort? All
happening more than a year after Barbaro's death.
You may say, why all that money spent to save horses? To which,
I would say, why all that money spent on fancy vacations or
expensive dinners or Coach handbags or the latest designer
creation by "whoever" someone is wearing on a runway?
This country is filled with overblown celebrities, for sure,
but many of them ask for exactly the "celebrity" status they
crave, and so they behave in ways that ensure the media will be
there to record every disgusting or titillating detail (there
is no better case than the pathetic Britney Spears, who is
plain and simple, what they call in the South, "white trash").
What good will come out of HER celebrity?
Before Edwards jumps to so many completely wrong conclusions,
or you lump this into some other kind of "celebrity" situation,
you all should know that in this case, whatever "celebrity"
Barbaro became, he did so because there was nothing "ordinary"
about him. The "average" racehorse would have run off with that
injury, irreparably damaging his leg on the track and having to
put down right then and there. He displayed extraordinary
intelligence by pulling himself up and protecting his leg, then
cooperating in a way that usually happens only with injured
humans--and doing it over a period of many months, for most of
which he was very comfortable and was definitely healing. The
broken leg DID heal, and he was close to being released.
If Edwards mocks the media, then it should be obvious even to
him that in crafting his "press releases," he's the ultimate
Many people who love horses and even those who know nothing
about them, will never forget Barbaro. In fact, the proper
statue to honor him will be at Churchill Downs, the site of his
greatest victory. This was a horse who in his sport was the
very best. In a country where heroes, especially in more
popular sports such as baseball and basketball, have fallen so
far off their pedestals that they solicit more scorn than
admiration, the greatest hero of
Barbaro. He just did his best and fought his hardest, and asked
for nothing more.
I would urge you--and Edwards--to read the following story,
which is the best commentary I have yet come across about the
"Barbaro phenomenon" and its relationship to American culture:
When we look to the mess created by our national leadership,
there is little wonder why Barbaro became the hero we have been
so desperate to find. And I don't spend my days writing in
response to every such article, because I have a life, too, but
in this case I am angry that this situation has been so
This was a case of everyone trying to do the best thing for the
very best reasons. I know, it does seem hard to believe that
such people still exist in this country, doesn't it? Believe
Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine: New Bolton Center
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