Other than admiring their beauty and having ridden on very gentle ones at my uncle’s farm when I was growing up, I know very little about the psychological nature and behavior of horses.
Ignorance admitted, I cannot help but ask why not simply release them from their stalls and pins and at least give them the chance to save themselves by fleeing under their own power?
Yes, it would be a royal pain rounding them up afterwards. Yes, there would probably be frightened horse-vehicle accidents.
Do insurance and lawsuit considerations really override all consideration for their lives? Is it really “better” to have the horses provably dead (”hopefully” from smoke inhalation before the flames reached them) in their stalls/pens?
Sounds like a perfect “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation” for horse stable/training center owner/operators.
BTW, my comment is really about a report I read earlier concerning a small facility where the evacuation order occurred in the middle of the night and all the horses died.
There were over 400 horses at this facility. The fast-spreading fire came on so quickly that they were not able to load them all to get them out out. My understanding is that they had closed the roads to incoming trailers, so there was no other choice but to let them go. Nothing to do with insurance.
I have owned Thoroughbreds for decades; they’re beautiful, athletic creatures who are extremely accident-prone. For sure your first choice would be to safely trailer them out rather than risk the many awful things that could happen running in a blind panic.
But these heroic track workers didn’t have any choice. They did the right thing, as heartbreaking as it is.