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Please, stop e-mailing Barbaro. He's just a horse

Enough. Enough with the e-mails and cards and carrots and apples and religious statues. Enough with treating Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby-winning horse who was gruesomely injured in the Preakness Stakes last Saturday, like he's some national hero in need of our outpouring of sympathy.

Just stop.

He's a horse.

And the last time I checked, horses aren't capable of reading signs or checking e-mail accounts. I'm sure Barbaro enjoyed the carrots and apples, but the last time I checked he wasn't exactly malnourished.

I don't need daily updates on his eating habits, much less his mating habits, though you might be interested to know that he's showing interest in mares.

Look, I was as impressed as anyone by Barbaro's dominant performance in the Derby. I wanted him to win the Triple Crown and was saddened by his unsightly injury in the Preakness.

And I'm glad — that unlike most horses who suffer those types of injuries — Barbaro's life was saved and he appears to be doing well.

But that's where it ends.

Most people — likely 99 percent of the population — have seen the horse complete exactly one race, which lasted barely two minutes. That's the extent of our connection with this horse, two minutes in Kentucky.

Yet hundreds of fans have placed cards at Churchill Downs, and the track is preparing a care package to send to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center, where Barbaro is being treated.

The center has been sent so many carrots and apples that "he's received enough to feed the whole hospital," according to a doctor there.

Barbaro has gotten flowers, medals and statues of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals to Roman Catholics. If you care to send an e-mail to a horse, you can do so at www.vet.upenn.edu/barbaro.

But please don't.

The generosity of the American people has never been questioned. But now our collective sanity is.

You want to send encouragement to a wounded hero?

Address it to the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Attn.: Voluntary Service, 500 W. Fort St., Boise, ID 83702.

You want to send food items to someone who's suffering?

Contact the Idaho Food Bank, which distributes food to those in need all over the state.

You want to drop an e-mail or letter to someone lonely?

Nursing homes throughout the Valley would be glad to arrange a correspondence with one of their residents.

Help the humans — there are plenty in need, even if their struggles aren't broadcast on NBC and ESPN.

"The problem in general is people can't identify one-on-one that there are people in our own community that have needs," said Gaye Bennett, the public and community affairs director for the United Way of Treasure Valley.

After getting your next Web update on Barbaro's condition, head to unitedwaytv.org and register with its volunteer center, which can match you with organizations that pique your interest.

Barbaro, rest assured, is getting the best possible care.

A team comprised of some of the best veterinary doctors in the world are guiding his recovery.

His every want and need is being tended to. He will, hopefully, get better, produce a gaggle of racing offspring and live a long, healthy life.

And, you know what, no amount of cards, e-mails, carrots or apples will make a bit of difference in that.

The same effort applied locally, however, might actually make an impact.

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