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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35 February 2018 THE HORSE "When we became aware that this was happening, we organized to educate the Thoroughbred industry about what was happening and to raise money to take care of these horses," he says. "We have come a long, long way over the past 30-some years. Most owners and trainers and breeders are now very aware and are very supportive and very careful about plan- ning for the retirement of their horses." It was during this transition that some of the organizations that are now house- hold names formed. New Vocations Race- horse Adoption Program, for instance, was founded in 1992 with the goal of offering "retiring racehorses a safe haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes," the group's website says. And in 1998 the volunteer-run organiza- tion Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) came to be. Today CANTER and its 18 re- gional affiliates offer two ways for trainers and owners to rehome their retiring race- horses: They can list their horses for sale on a website, or they can donate horses to CANTER, which then adopts them out to qualified individuals. "When organizations started coming out with networking options for these racehorses, it made the racing industry a little more appealing to those people who never had any interest," says Amy Paulus, who operates Paulus Racing and Performance Thoroughbreds, in Florence, Kentucky. And the attention to aftercare didn't stop there. So What's Changed? Many factors have played a role in the Thoroughbred's resurgence as a sport and pleasure mount. Some are novel, while others aren't so far removed from what made Thoroughbreds popular initially. Organizations like New Vocations and CANTER have been instrumental in the shift. The former has rehabilitated, retrained, and rehomed more than 6,000 Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses to date, and the latter has been involved in transitioning more than 25,000 OTTBs to new homes and careers. More such facilities and programs have launched across North America. Pittman notes the growth in both the number and size of nonprofit facilities eli- gible for grants from organizations such as TCA and the more recently formed Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA, in 2013). The TAA was launched initially with seed money from Breeders' Cup, The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association Inc., and is supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare profession- als, and other industry groups. These nonprofits collect funding ranging from small private donations to large gifts from individuals, farms, and organizations. "The decline in market demand for Thoroughbreds increased the need for subsidized facilities," Pittman says. "The existence of that funding created an incen- tive for horse farms to become charitable organizations. Today we have some fantastic aftercare facilities that rehome scores of horses each year, and others that operate in a way that is hard to distin- guish from a commercial or hobby farm." Another factor is people: The number of private trainers and agents dedicated to finding homes for retired racehorses has also grown. Paulus, who has helped reha- bilitate, retrain, and rehome retired race- horses since she was in middle school, has a unique perspective on the market. She and her family have been involved in Thoroughbred training, racing, and breed- ing for a combined 150 years. Demand for OTTBs increased so much that she left a traditional full-time job to dedicate all her time to rehoming ex-racehorses. For 2017 Paulus made a goal to find a horse a home per day by year's end. By November she'd rehomed about 400. Paulus acknowledges that she and other individuals rehoming wouldn't be successful without supply and says the trainers and owners she works with across the Midwest and Florida are excited to find their horses new homes when their careers on the track are over. "I'm thankful they put so much trust in me to do right by their animals, and they are always so happy to see their racehors- es excelling in new careers," she says. Rosenberg agrees, citing many trainers' and owners' proactivity and enthusiasm about racehorse aftercare. "I don't just believe more racing own- ers and trainers are taking steps to retire horses sound to give them a better shot at productive second careers," he says. "I know it." And they're setting examples by doing so publicly, be it announcing news of aftercare-focused donations or sharing success stories of their retired racers in second careers. Rosenberg says their commitments to these efforts are evident in their continued and growing funding. Additionally, countless individuals and organizations are taking a page from the Warmblood breed registries' book and actively promoting the Thoroughbred as a sport and recreation mount. In founding RRP, for instance, Pittman says he wanted to rebuke that notion he'd observed that all retired Thorough- breds are rescues with little to no value. "I wanted to bring good trainers back to these horses, increase demand for them, and restore their value both straight off AMY K. DRAGOO Today's generation of OTTB superstars includes Lynn Symansky's CCI**** horse, Donner.

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