7 Race Horses Dead Before & On Derby Day in Kentucky

Nicholas is one of dozens and dozens of OTTBs (off the track Thoroughbreds) rescued over the years by Front Range Equine Rescue.

According to news sources, a string of racehorse deaths occurred in the week of the Kentucky Derby, with two of the deaths on the actual day of the big race.

The so-called “king of sports” has a long history of questionable and inhumane practices resulting in many racehorses sustaining injuries, breakdowns, and deaths every year.

As an article in NPR notes:

“The 149th Kentucky Derby may be over, but questions about what led to a string of horse fatalities at its famed track have just begun.

Over the past week, a total of seven horses died in the lead-up to the final race on Saturday — prompting an investigation into the deaths and fueling outrage from animal rights activists.

The disturbing death toll seen at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, is the latest scandal to hit the horse race industry despite recent efforts to make the sport safer for animals.”

To read more, click here.

Save Horses: Barn Fire Prevention Tips

Too many barns have overhead hay storage and we (FRER) never recommend having this as a way to store hay. Barns should also be built so there are multiple exits to safely get horses out in the event of a fire. Stalls with outdoor runs attached give horses a good way to get out if main door exits (located on both front/back of a barn) are unavailable.

Over the past three years, at least 281 equines have died in barn fires according to research conducted by Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).

A barn fire is a nightmare for any equine owner and understanding risk factors and using preventive measures can help keep your horses safe.

“… and as I looked upward, through the bars of my empty (hay) rack, I saw a red light flickering on the wall. Then I heard a cry of “FIRE” outside, and the old ostler quietly and quickly came in; he got one horse out, and went to another, but the flames were playing round the trap door, and the roaring overhead was dreadful.” (Black Beauty by Anna Sewell)

Barn fires often occur more in the winter due to the greater use of electrical heating devices to keep water tanks/buckets heated. But items such as heat lamps and space heaters also pose a risk to your barn and should never be left unattended.

Using a physical checklist that is gone over every night before leaving the barn is essential.

When using electrical heat sources, consistently monitor to ensure there are no fuel sources in the barn area, and also always make sure to clear loose hay, cobwebs, and straw, if used, as fire will quickly travel through a structure if these items catch fire. .

You can also request an inspection by your local fire department, including a thorough inspection of your property to help catch potential risks. Take care of any issues immediately, which can include chewed-up wires, out-of-date fire extinguishers, propane or gasoline canisters that should be stored elsewhere, or damp, improperly dried hay which can spontaneously combust.

Understanding and finding the risk factors of a barn fire is an essential skill for any barn owner or manager!

History of Amazing Donkeys

Research on donkeys has revealed important information on their long (and important) history. Overlooked by many for too long, they
are wonderful equines who have not always been given their due. This article by the New York Times explains more


Donkeys have a long and interesting history with many facts unknown to most equine lovers. To those who do know them, donkeys are well loved for their adorable faces (those long ears!) and unique personalities.

Horses & Heroes Educational Progam

Front Range Equine Rescue’s education coordinator, Marion, is a full-time teacher who has put together a variety of horse-related curriculums for students of many ages. She has fostered horses for FRER for over 15 years and hosts the annual horse camps at her 5-acre facility.

A few years ago, Marion developed a home school enrichment program where students participate in a unit of study called “Heroes Who Changed the World in a Positive Way”. In her program, students learn about Hilary Wood, founder of Front Range Equine Rescue, how she started the 501c3 nonprofit organization, what the rescue’s mission is, and how students can get involved and help.

Students watch a video featuring some of the rescued horses who have been rehabilitated. Next, they visit workstations that depict learning through hands-on activities for horse anatomy, read information displays about wild horse roundups, horse breeds, horse slaughter, horse instincts, and volunteerism.

Students play a running true/false game after gaining knowledge and also look at Front Range Equine Rescue’s website to gain more insight into the rescue and its various programs to help abused horses. Finally, the students work in pairs reading through FRER’s past calendars to learn more about horses who have been rescued and horse welfare issues. Afterward, they give a short presentation to the class to share these stories.

The participating students are all in middle school, grades 6th-8th, and range in ages 11-14 years old. In 2021, there are two sections for this special class reaching about 40 students overall, with 20 or so per class. 22 students signed up for the first section. This is now the 7th year Marion has taught this very popular special course.