The Horse

FEB 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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34 THE HORSE February 2018 Thoroughbreds are bred for bravery, soundness, and athleticism, says Steuart Pittman, founder and president of Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) and a three-day event rider and trainer. "All three are required to win races," he says. "To succeed on the track they also must be manageable when they're super fit, even in a chaotic racetrack environ- ment. Those qualities make them great sport horses, as well." Another factor that made Thorough- breds popular was availability, says Dan Rosenberg, past-president of Thorough- bred Charities of America (TCA) and a current member of the TCA board. He's spent more than 40 years working in the Thoroughbred industry, most of it managing and operating the famed Three Chimneys Farm, in Lexington, Kentucky. "When I was a boy showing hunter/ jumper/equitation, everybody rode Thoroughbreds," Rosenberg says. "So, if you had a racehorse that wasn't very fast, someone would buy them for second careers in the show ring." And, like today, there were individuals who would find horses at the track and resell them to sport and recreational rid- ers after some retraining, Pittman says. One such individual is Ira Schulman, who began buying and reselling Thor- oughbreds more than 50 years ago. He is widely credited with rehoming more retired racehorses than any person or organization. But in the late 1970s a new horse started making waves in America: the Eu- ropean Warmblood. When U.S. Olympi- ans began traveling overseas, purchasing and importing Warmbloods, then quickly bringing them to the top levels of their sports, equestrians took notice. These horses bred specifically for sports other than racing became "all the rage" in the show ring, Rosenberg says, leaving racing owners and trainers without an outlet to rehome their retired horses. "As demand for ex-racehorses declined, their prices dropped," Pittman says. "Horse dealers and (sport horse) trainers followed the money, shifting from Thor- oughbred ex-racehorses to imports and purpose-breds." He adds that the European breed registries jumped at the marketing opportunity. "They got American breeders en- gaged with their inspection process and networks to sell young horses," he says, "and The Jockey Club failed to respond by promoting its own breed in the sport horse market." Pittman says the closest a Thorough- bred entity came to promoting the horses in sport was Kentucky attorney and horseman Ned Bonnie's "valiant effort" establishing the Performance Horse Registry, which eventually become a multibreed registry under United States Equestrian Federation's (USEF) purview. "Horse welfare advocates and the Thoroughbred racing industry both became aware that a problem existed in the 1980s," he adds. "Horse rescues, retirement facilities, and aftercare facili- ties stepped in where private resellers and trainers had left. Horses just like those that won Olympic medals for our country in the '60s and '70s were being referred to as 'rescues.' A new generation of horse- men was being told that these horses were inferior." In response, the Thoroughbred industry and others began to support aftercare, founding the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in 1983 and TCA in 1990. "Our first task was to raise the alarm," Rosenberg says. "Articles began appear- ing in the press about horses found in livestock auctions that were bought by people who were sending them to slaugh- ter. While Thoroughbreds were a rela- tively small percentage of these horses, they got the lion's share of the publicity. I believe that most (racing) trainers and owners were unaware that the people who promised them 'good homes' were actually selling them at these auctions. The Evolution of Thoroughbred AF TERCARE LEFT: COURTESY U.S. EVENTING; RIGHT: COURTESY VALERIE PARRY PHOTOGRAPHY Famous horses from the off-track Thoroughbred's heyday include world champion eventer Might Tango, left, and dressage legend Keen, right. A new generation of horsemen was being told that these horses were inferior." STEUART PITTMAN

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