hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires

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Animal rights activists target racing’s crown jewel

As the 2021 racing season hits its stride in Saratoga Springs, animal rights activists are shining a spotlight on what they see as the abuse of horses at the Saratoga Race Course and other thoroughbred tracks around the nation. The group Horseracing Wrongs is keeping a count of the number of horses euthanized at the Saratoga track -- there were six as of July 31 -- and drawing attention to the number of former racehorses destined for slaughter. The group’s protests don’t seem to make much of an impression on most racing fans, but the campaign comes at a perilous time for the horseracing industry.
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Campaign veteran returns to his roots

Skidmore graduate learned early lessons in local, regional races.
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Rewriting the rules for egg farms

Five years ago, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposition to halt the sale of pork, veal and eggs from animals that have been subject to “extreme confinement.” For egg production, the voter-backed law requires that laying hens must each have at least 1.5 square feet for floor space. But with the law finally set to take effect later this year, the state Senate recently voted to reduce the floor-space requirement for cage-free hens to match a 1-square-foot standard adopted by other states. The change is backed by large-scale egg producers that opposed the original ballot question, but it has divided the animal welfare groups that supported the measure.

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Space to dream, with music in the air

In many of its classical music programs this summer, the Tanglewood festival is offering work by contemporary composers -- not just in its annual contemporary music festival, but alongside compositions from 200 or 300 years ago. The new composers are young, diverse musicians with wide-ranging perspectives.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron