Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Offspring of Famous Horses Bring Hope to Cancer Patients

( Calvin, a 14 y.o. thoroughbred ex-race horse at Heaven Can Wait)

Discarded Offspring of Famous Racehorses Bring "HoPE" to Cancer Patients in New Program

Abandoned offspring of famous racehorses and other equines form unique healing bond with cancer patients in new program at horse sanctuary in Central California.

San Miguel, CA (PRWEB) October 28, 2009 -- HoPE - Horse Passion for Everyone - at the Heaven Can Wait Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in San Miguel, California, is uniting cancer patients and survivors with the discarded offspring of famous racehorses and other equines in a successful, free program that helps both patients and horses.
"The patients and the horses, in their own way, can relate to being sick and, sometimes, feeling abandoned," states Susan Schwartz, the hands-on founder of the Sanctuary. "When the patients see these beautiful creatures that need their love, the pain of their own illness temporarily dissolves. In turn, the horses have a powerful energy they want to share and reach out to the patient."
Pair O'Docs, a grandson of Secretariat, lost 3 races and ended up a pack horse, eventually falling off a cliff - but doesn't care if the person brushing his mane has no hair. Princeton, a great grandson of Seattle Slew, was a loser as a racehorse. Discarded due to a leg injury, Princeton is now a winner in the eyes of a cancer patient who, while recuperating from chemotherapy, leads him around the ranch.
Psychotherapist Leigh Shambo, the director of H.E.A.L. (Human Equine Alliances for Learning) worked with Heaven Can Wait volunteers, providing training and developing a plan to make each session safe, inspiring, and healing for all.
The Sanctuary is an incredibly clean and peaceful environment currently housing 26 horses and donkeys. While not all of the horses in the HoPE program are ex-racehorses, all are rescues. "Many of these animals have been horribly abused," adds Schwartz, "and housing and treatment are very expensive." Yet, it is a labor of love for Schwartz who hopes that those who have racehorses, bet on them or just enjoy their own horses will make a donation to the non-profit to both help the horses find comfort and peace and to aid the cancer patients who visit them.
"All ages are welcome and no prior horse experience is required to take part in the HoPE program," notes Schwartz, "just a willingness to share your love and feelings with an animal that, somehow, knows exactly how you feel."
To make a tax-deductible donation or to find out more about the HoPE program go to:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Retraining a Race Horse-- A Handbook

Congratulations! You have adopted a race horse fresh off the track. You now have lifetime commitment to both the horse and to yourself to 'retrain' the "race" out of your horse.
Tranquility Farms in Tehachapi, CA has developed a 17 page tool to help the experienced as well as novice off the track thoroughbred owner to transition their ex-racer into a pleasure riding horse.
Several helpful topics are discussed such as grooming, tying the horse, lunging, saddle work and confidence building tools.
Practical insight into what a race horse knows on the track is discussed including wash racks, grooms, exercise riders and how a jockey receives a "leg up" on race day. These subjects are useful in letting your newly acquired race horse learn to unwind, relax, bond with you his adopter or trainer, and build his confidence.
Additional items in the handbook, are the subjects of ulcers, diet, hoof care along with socialization and reminders that are good to know when your race horse arrives at your barn.
About Tranquility Farms:
Priscilla Clark is the President of Tranquility Farms and is a lifelong horse professional. Since her earliest involvement in racing she has taken in Thoroughbreds that were injured or unwanted, and for the last ten years advocacy for humane retirement has been the main focus of her working life.
Harry A. Biszantz Memorial Center for Thoroughbred Retirement has grown to care for a constant population of 100 horses in rehabilitation, retraining, or comfortable retirement. Now known simply as Tranquility Farm, this special place of spacious barns and pastures is dedicated solely to the welfare of the Thoroughbred horse, where retiring runners enjoy the peace and appreciation they deserve, and where an unwanted broodmare or yearling can find shelter while awaiting a new life in an adoptive home.
To learn more about Tranquility Farms or to visit the ranch go to

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tampa Bay Downs and T.R.O.T. Partner Together for Racehorses announced today that Tampa Bay Downs and T.R.O.T. (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa) have partnered to transition race horses from it's race track to T.R.O.T. The main function will be to educate the trainers of Tampa Bay Downs on the option to have their horses surrendered at the end of their racing careers either due to injury or because they can no longer be competitive as a means to re-train, rehab and/or re-home them. I applaud the efforts of both to ensure the safety of the horses. My hope is that more race tracks will follow suit.
I visited the T.R.O.T website and found this article to share:

(Reprinted from

The life of a racehorse is not an easy one. While the industry of horseracing is controversial amongst the general public, we recognize the courage that these horses have to go out and risk their lives in every race. Many run with known injuries; others run for years on strength and heart until their bodies are just tired and worn out. For those who run the dozens of races and make their earnings dollar by dollar, life tends to be long and difficult. These horses deserve a dignified retirement to loving homes, where they can live the rest of their lives as a friend and companion.
Unfortunately, too many of our country’s noble Thoroughbreds are ending up in poor conditions and auction lots. This is often the end of the road for these horses as many are sold to kill buyers who send them off to slaughter. Horses like Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand and the great Exceller both met their unfortunate fates in slaughterhouses. While we stand against the practice of equine slaughter, we understand that curbing these atrocities starts at home and on our local racetracks. Our goal is to offer trainers a safe means of retirement for unwanted Thoroughbreds, and the public the opportunity to welcome one of these brave horses into their homes. While the endeavor to save all of them is seemingly impossible, we will strive to help those we can to ensure their second chance at life.
Anyone who has been around Thoroughbreds knows that they have unique personalities all their own. Anyone who has accepted them into their home after racing understands the challenges, but gratitude that they exude for changing their life. All of those involved with TROT have personal experiences with OTTBs. From learning to ride, to rehabilitating a brave Thoroughbred pulled from the slop of a kill pen, and others working daily to ensure the health and safety of those who are still employed as racehorses… We understand their value, we honor their bravery, and we are committed to their safety.

Online Games and Horses-- Where is the Disconnect?

Hi I'm Haleigh and I was looking at your web site. I play on a game called and lot of me and my friends on there post messages to stop horse slaughter I think it could help. Sometimes on people pretend to be slaughtering there horses by not feeding them or going to the vet or farrier. Its like there mocking it, its annoying and scary. The horses on horseland (virtual) can get sick and either die (slaughters say they go to slaughter house) or they can be rescued by a group me and my friends made to save them. :). its sad to see them lowering there heads it almost looks real:(. thanks for reading! bye!

This was the post that caught my eye this morning and it got me to thinking about the disconnect between fantasy and reality. I guess the purpose of fantasy, is just that an escape, where there are no rules, boundaries or remorse for your actions. Haleigh, I would suppose can't be much older than a pre-teen and she is displaying a level of maturity with her post that many should paid heed to.

I went to the website to learn about this online community. The description under 'Learn More' said the following:

Horseland is an online community and virtual world. You can care for, compete with, breed, and trade your very own horses and dogs. You're the stable manager! It's the oldest and biggest online horse game.

Hmmmm nothing about the fun of disposing of your horse as the stable manager after its no longer useful. Now while it appears that I am passing judgment on the makers of this site, I am not. They can't possibly be held accountable for what is done, said or created on their online community by the several thousands playing the game. What I am passing judgment on is the moral compass that is constantly being pointed in the wrong direction and the disconnect between reality and fantasy for kids.

If a young girl like Haleigh is distressed about the uncaring fictional world she finds herself in while playing her online game and the uncaring, disposable approach her fellow community members use towards the horses. How can we help her? How can we help the other "Haleigh's" of the world that need to be reached ie. those that don't care?. How do we has a society teach that animals are living, breathing creatures that are dependent upon us for their care?. How can we teach as a society that we are not going to continue to be a disposable world be it diapers, paper plates or horses. There is too high a price to pay for that animal, that human, and the earth when we treat even a "virtual" game with such disregard. I am past the age of the generation that loves video games, virtual games or starring endlessly at building a farm or caring about Mafia wars. I do not understand the appeal at all. What I do know however, is that these games have desensitized people to "truth". Where else can the Haleighs of the world, kill 30 alien predators before going to school at 8 a.m. in the morning? Nowhere but in a fantasy. And sometimes we know that perception is reality, look at Columbine for instance. Does this seem like I am over reaching here, I don't. The ugliness of horse slaughter is real, and if the message purported in Haleigh's' post is any indication, we aren't doing a good job as a society of deciphering real pain from fantasy.

Haleigh's post to me is a cry for a rally to teach children from their earliest remembrance that we are responsible for our actions, our thoughts and for the animals given to us to have dominion over, but in a responsible, caring manner.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Buyer Beware When Donating to a Charity

An article in the Bostonist, dated 10/13/09 regarding Blue Hills Riding Center closing spurred me to look into how to decipher a legitimate charity from one that may be in trouble, or in other cases, non existent. Blue Hills from the article ran into financial trouble when it appeared that the owner, an animal lover but not a businesswoman started to collect or hoard horses and refused to adopt our or sell the horses when the money started running out. Charity events put on by this same person were paid for by donations that should have went to the care and feeding of the horses. Its easy to have donations exploited or mismanaged so knowing where your money is going is important. Knowing something about the charity, the administrative team, the allotment of monies, the salaries paid out and to whom etc can be found with some time and investigation.

Here is an article that I discovered giving some key tips on investigating a charity.

It is important for donors to be careful when selecting a charity to support. Some charities are outright scams. Others siphon most of the money they receive towards administrative costs rather than reaching out to the community. Still others are legitimate but ineffective and poorly run. Donors need to do their homework before handing over their hard-earned cash to the wrong people.

Ideally, a charity should be a not for profit with 501(c)(3) status. If it’s not, donors cannot claim their donations on their taxes. (This shouldn't’t scare donors away from international charities—most have some affiliation in the U.S. and are registered with the IRS.)

The charity should have a clear mission statement and should use the majority of the money it receives from donations to support its programs rather than to pay off executive salaries or do more fundraising. Donors should be able to request and receive written material about how the charity uses its funds.

When researching a charity, donors need to be very sure they are researching the correct charity. Scam artists frequently use names similar to those of a well-known charity to trick donors. For instance, one scam artist named his charity “Kids Wish USA.” Many of his victims confused the name with that of the legitimate charity “Make A Wish Foundation.”

People donating to national charities can research a charity on or Charity Navigator also provides information about international charities. offers charities that meet their standards a logo with the phrase “BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards” on it. offers a “Four Star Charity” logo to their highest-rated charities.

Small or local charities are harder to research as they often do not show up on national databases (although does list some local charities). People who wish to donate to charity locally should consider asking for references—who has the charity benefited?

(article reprint from Legitimate Charities website).

The Internet is invaluable in researching a charity, horse rescue or individuals associated with either. A Google search can net articles, photos and additional information regarding a person or group. As always, "buyer beware" is the name of the game when donating your hard earned money.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Retirement of Smokey Stover to Old Friends and what The Second Race is all About

On Sunday evening, I received the news I had been waiting to hear, Smokey Stover had safely arrived at Old Friends. The story of Smokey Stover's retirement to Old Friends is one that exemplifies what networking,and The Second Race is all about.

The events leading to his arrival at Old Friends began approximately two weeks prior when I was alerted late at night of a posting on the CANTER California website that Smokey Stover was listed on their website for sale at $ 600.00. I was surprised and thought that someone had made a mistake. I went to the site and sure enough the description was there. He had been listed on the site on 9/4/09 and the contact information was that of his former trainer. There wasn't a picture of the glorious black gelding, but I knew it was in fact the former Breeder Cup winner that was for sale. I just couldn't stand the thought of this horse going to someone that didn't know who he was, or that he could not have the retirement he deserved. He was a bit arthritic, so what would his future career be? The listing said he loaded well, stands when shod etc, but not much more about what he could or couldn't do. I at that moment made it my mission to do what The Second Race does, and that is Network for Results.

The following Facebook post by Vivien Morrison describes in some detail what transpired and his arrival at Old Friends. Vivien is a volunteer for Old Friends and keeps the thousands of followers up-to-date on the activities of the equine athletes that reside there.

Smokey arrived safely at Old Friends Sunday, just before nightfall. Before leaving the Golden state, he received excellent care in the barn of trainer Greg Gilcrest, but now retired from the racetrack, it became apparent that Smokey was looking for a forever home. For a time, it appeared he might go to an adopted home through CANTER, and equine advocates, including the FOBs began to raise funds on his behalf...however, Sharla Sanders, of The Second Race spotted his adoption listing and with a great appreciation of his contributions to the racing world, she went into action, contacting his connections and referring them to Old Friends. Sharla's efforts were rewarded as Michael Blowen was very happy to see this lovely fellow home and so with Ms. Sanders continued assistance, transportation was arranged and with the aide of Mr. Gilcrest he was on his way to the Bluegrass!...... Best known to some as the stablemate of the star crossed Lost in the Fog, he was owned by the late Harry Aleo and trained by Greg Gilcrest. Bred in Florida, by Put it Back, out of the Jolie's Halo mare Milady's Halo, Smokey Stover was a successful stakes winner during his three and four year old campaigns, started 14 times and only finished off the board once..... He ended his career with over $ 750,000 in earnings and 8 victories. His most high profile victory perhaps was in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. He also captured the G2 Potrero BC H and the G3 Bay Meadows BC H. Sprint. The best part of the Smokey Stover story is that his connections were willing to put the horse first and his arrival at Old Friends is a true testament to the appreciation and respect true racing supporters like Sharla Sanders have for these outstanding athletes...Smokey brought joy to his followers in California and her primary aim was to find him a forever home in which he could be admired by his many fans and given the dignity and respect deserving of such a fine champion. We are honored to have this beautiful...and tall...fellow in our Old Friends family.
I want to extend my thanks to Greg Gilchrist, the family of Harry Aleo, Diane Repp for alerting me to Smokey Stover's posting on CANTER, Michael Blowen, KC Transport, Irish Rose Farm in Bradbury for allowing me to visit Smokey before he continued on his journey to Kentucky and for the 100's of racing fans that cared about him when discovered he was available to a new home. The networking that took place in literally hours, shows what can be done when racing fans, organizations, and people work together for a common good. Best wishes to Smokey and enjoy your retirement you handsome boy....until next time.....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hard Questions to ask Yourself if Interested in Horse Rescue

Often times I am asked "How can you do horse rescue?". Truthfully, I don't "rescue" horses, I facilitate their (the horses) placement, transition or adoption from the race track into a new home or career. I have chosen this niche, as I would like in my efforts to try and "save" a horse from an uncertain future or from the auction lot by working with owners, trainers, jockeys and race trackers as the first line of defense for our equine athletes. Having said that I do on occasion volunteer my efforts, money, or resources to those that do "rescue". I found a group that networks for horses, one horse at a time, and on their website there was a checklist or a "gut check" of questions that a responsible person or group should ask themselves PRIOR to becoming involved in equine rescue. The questions are:

Checklist for Potential Rescuers

- Am I physically/mentally up to this challenge?
- Am I strong enough to take criticism for what I am doing?
- Do I have the time to dedicate to saving this horse?
- Can I decide between rescue and euthanasia with the signs the horse is giving?
- Am I committed to following the guidance provided for the horse’s care?
- Am I organized enough to document what is being done to care for the horse (both
for “proof” of care should I be reported for neglect myself and to keep track of meds, weights, feed routines, etc.)
- Do I have friends/family that can help me care for the horse in my absence?
- Do I have the money to pay for food, vet bills and necessary supplies?
- Do I have the necessary equipment (feed buckets, water trough/buckets, weather
appropriate blanket, halter, lead, sling for raising a horse)?
- Do I have a clean, warm/cool, dry and safe place to nurse the horse back to health?
- Do I have room for the horse to get exercise?
- Do I have a good relationship with my local vet?
- Is the vet willing to make farm calls quickly?
- Do I know how to check the horse’s temperature?
Do I have stomach/skills for administering feeding tubes, shots, doctoring wounds?
- Can the horse eat without assistance?
- Do I have any clue on what to feed this horse?
- How bad off is he/she? (Body condition score)
- Does the horse drop feed when trying to eat?

The mission of One Horse At a Time, Inc from it's website states:

One Horse at a Time, as our name implies, works with one horse at a time either through a bonefide rescue organization or one on one with individuals.

We provide a network of resources scattered throughout the country. Through our affiliated groups, we can direct resources to where it is needed. In the short period of time we’ve been an organization, we’ve contributed to the rescue and rehabilitation of many horses. We’ve had yard sales, lemonade stands, conducted on-line fundraising to generate the funds needed to help these horses.

In addition to sponsoring a horse, One Horse at a Time also donates to horses with special needs or helps in equine emergencies (such as raising funds for a hay shortage drive or hurricane damage).

To reach One Horse at a Time go to

Friday, October 9, 2009

Upcoming Events to Support Horse Rescues

There are several upcoming charity events throughout the United States that support horses, here is a sampling of just a few:

New Jersey and Pennsylvania:

Children's author Diana Tuorto will participate in several book signings this fall to benefit New Jersey and Pennsylvania-based horse and cat rescues.

Tuorto will appear on Saturday, Oct. 10 at REASON Horse Rescue’s annual open house in Harveys Lake, Pa. and 50 percent of Tuorto’s book proceeds will benefit REASON. She will also appear at the Mylestone Equine Rescue’s annual open house in Phillipsburg, with 50 percent of book proceeds benefiting MER. On Saturday, Oct. 24, Tuorto will participate in Thoroughbred horse rescue ReRun’s open house at its new facility, Reindancer Farm, in New Egypt, with 50 percent of book proceeds also benefiting ReRun.

For more information,visit


Hair Cuts for Horses
Heidi Olson-Hilder is hoping haircuts will help horses who need help in North Clarendon.

The Rutland hairdresser will put her scissors to good use Friday when Avanti, the salon she works at on Center Street, will host an all-day "cut-a-thon" to raise money for Spring Hill Horse Rescue.

Olson-Hilder, who keeps a coin-can for the rescue on her cutting table, said she's been trying to help the group ever since one of the stable's nonallergenic horses helped her fulfill a longstanding wish.

"I'm deathly allergic to horses, but I've always dreamed of riding them," she said.

The rescued horse she rides has granted her wish. Now, she's trying to give back to the shelter that takes in equines from a wide range of venues and backgrounds and either permanently cares for them or tries to find them new homes.

It's an expensive undertaking, according to the rescue's director, Gina Brown.

"It's about $40,000 a year to provide feed and medical care under normal conditions," she said describing the needs of her 23-member herd. "If a horse has suffered cruelty or has medical needs it costs more."

This winter, Brown is worrying about more than just the medical needs of her horses. Her 15-year-old daughter, Zoey, was recently diagnosed with leukemia and Brown said she's grateful for the fundraiser.

"If I know I'll have money through the fundraiser to pay for hay, I can focus on Zoey and getting her well," she said.

Brown said all the money raised by the cut-a-thon would go toward the horses. The nonprofit rescue is supported primarily by donations, she said, along with a small amount of grant funding.

The cut-a-thon will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday with Olson-Hilder donating all the proceeds from her haircuts. Other hairdressers at the salon will donate portions of their day to the fundraiser, she said, with a minimum donation of $20 per customer.

In addition to the haircuts, interested donors can buy raffle tickets for gift certificates from local businesses. The raffle will be drawn during an event at Pub 42 on Wales Street from 6 to 8 p.m. which will include live music.


Hunks & Horses Calendar Launch Event

The launch of the 2010 "Hunks & Horses" calendar will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Boot Barn, 3719 N. Oracle Road.
Calendar sales benefit HEART — Happy Equine Acres Rescue and Therapy — of Tucson, a horse rescue facility on the east side that performs miracles on a daily basis.
The original Hunks & Horses calendar was published for 2009 by Swingin' SaddleBabes LLC, a partnership of local women who spend hours riding desert trails together. The idea took shape when they discovered that no one had ever done a calendar of farriers except a group in England who created a calendar featuring nude farriers, a possibility the Swingin' SaddleBabes chose not to explore.
"Other than me and my veterinarian, there is no one who is more important to my horses' well being than my farrier," said Jean Waters, a founding member of Swingin' SaddleBabes.
"Even if your horses go 'barefoot,' you still need a farrier to trim and take care of their hooves."
Recruiting farriers for 2010 was easier, with six farriers volunteering for a second round.
The first year was a learning year for the group, and as planning for the 2010 edition began, they capitalized on the lessons they'd learned. Because printing costs require such a large amount of capital, finding ways to save money in production was vital.
According to member Linda Fernandez, "We wanted to double our contribution to the horse rescue this year, so we really focused on how to be more efficient with our resources."
To that end, the group enlisted the services of a student photographer, Tanya Sova, a senior in the University of Arizona photography program.
For more information visit the Web sites and

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What Your Ex-Racehorse Knows--- How to Transition Him from the Racetrack to Your Barn

While looking at several retirement organizations websites, I ran across this post from CANTER Mid-Atlantic that I wanted to share. For more articles from this author visit I also learned that as of August 19, 2009 CANTER Mid-Atlantic was no longer accepting thoroughbreds except from Delaware Racetrack. This decision was made in part from the lack of funding it obtains from among other resources the racing industry itself. Hopefully in the future race tracks will work with designated retirement agencies to partner for the equine athletes.

From Mid Atlantic CANTER:

by Kristie Buckley-Simon

Every Thoroughbred has been trained and handled by different people, and each possess their own very different personalities so obviously every one of them is unique, but this is a general guideline as to what your new off the track Thoroughbred has been exposed to and what is new for him now that he’s off the track and in your home.

First off, remember that even though your horse may have been exposed to something everyday of his "previous life" you’ve now brought him into a completely new environment. That does not mean that he will act like a bomb-proof childs pony just because you want to hose him off. You’ve brought him to a new home, with new people, new animals, and a new barn. And don’t forget, he’s probably got an awful lot of pent up energy. So just because he’s used to being hosed every day, that does not mean that he will stand there and let you hose him off. You might very well end up short a wash rack and gain a very upset horse.

Thoroughbreds at the track are exposed to a variety of things in their nomadic life spent at various training facilities and racetracks. Even at the tender age of three, these horses have been working for a year or more, unlike our home raised show, trail or sport horses that barely know what work is until four or five years old. You would be amazed at what these horses experience as routine and if you have an opportunity to visit the backside of the track, you will see what I mean, but here’s a list of a few things you might not be aware of.

Even at a young age, your ex-racehorse will probably have excellent, even impeccable, ground manners, especially for the farrier and the vet. They are used to being blanketed and brushed, hosed and clipped. They’ve had their legs wrapped and medicated; their feet picked and prodded. Their hair has been trimmed, shaved and thinned. They’re used to having bicycles and golf carts zipping by endlessly, tractors and other noisy, heavy, and otherwise normally terrifying equipment working nearby. They’ve been bombarded by noise from the loudspeakers and cheers from winning betters.

But, and this is a very important but, your new pal has a lot to learn. Things like hot wire (electric fence) and crossties will be new, very frightening, and possibly dangerous experiences if you’re not careful and introduce these things slowly. Experiment first to learn if your horse respects a wire and always make sure that any hot wire is clearly marked or flagged. Although used to standing quietly tied from under the chin loop of their halters, sometimes for long periods waiting for an exercise rider to appear, most ex-racehorses are totally unfamiliar with the fact that the sideways pull of crossties means to stand still. They will attempt to move forward or backward, confused by the unusual restraint and might attempt to rear or break free. Use common sense and caution in teaching your horse how to stand in crossties and never leave them standing unattended.

Other things that he might need to learn are how to deal with the feel of someone mounting, not to mention the feel of new and heavier saddles. Normally, you will find that it only takes a short adjustment period for them to accept a new saddle, however, you’ll probably have the best luck sticking with a snaffle bit for quite awhile. The jockeys are boosted into the saddle while the horse is at a walk so if he attempts to move off while being mounted, he is only demonstrating for you that he has learned his lessons well!

Dogs are not something you will find at the track so you might find that your hundred pound German Shepherd or your even your five pound poodle and your new horse are not the best of friends. In fact, if your dog seems overly inquisitive or is a herding dog that insists on moving your horses from one end of the pasture the other for fun, you might want to keep him a good distance from your horse, especially in that first adjustment period after you bring him home.

If you have small children use the same principle as with your dog, keep them at a distance and introduce them to your new Thoroughbred slowly and in a controlled environment. They are not used to small children and it’s always best to err on the safe side when dealing with children.

Some training aspects that you might find frustrating are lunging (they have never done it), leg yields (jockey’s legs are up at their necks), trotting and cantering to the right (racetrack turns are always to the left) and especially stopping (fast stops on the track at fast speeds could mean injury).

When your Thoroughbred was first trained he learned to tolerate the weight of a rider, he learned what the bit was and then he learned how to run. He didn’t learn how to balance while making the transition from trot to canter. He didn’t learn that a rider might actually have a say in what gait the horse will go. When they go out to run, either race or just a workout, basically they walk or trot to the track, and canter slowly a quarter mile until warmed up. They are then allowed to fall into a racing canter and then fall into a controlled gallop. Fall being the important word here. These are not flowing dressage transitions. Your Thoroughbred quite literally has learned to fall into a canter...and always on the left lead. When training, this will be a source of frustration. But now you can’t say you didn’t expect that.

The other source of frustration will be stopping. Previously when asked to stop your ex-racer probably did just that, only it took him a half mile or so before he did. Huntseat judges frown on that type of transition in the show ring. It will take work to train him to stop in a timely fashion, but with patience and work it can be done.

Hopefully, this will prepare you for when you bring home your new off the track Thoroughbred. At the least, I hope it cuts down on your surprises. Patience is the key and with patience and time, I promise you will find training your Thoroughbred will be a fun and rewarding experience -- for you and your ex-racer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Update on the Arabian Horses Seized in Texas

Auction for 76 Egyptian Arabians to end this week

October 2, 2009

There has been a big improvement in the condition of the north Texas horses seized nearly two months ago, including the horse, pictured above and at bottom this week, and below, when he was seized.

An online auction in Texas for the right to adopt 76 Egyptian Arabians seized by authorities has attracted strong bids for some of the horses.
A total of 77 horses were seized from a Pilot Point property by the Denton County Sheriff's Office on August 14, assisted by staff of the Humane Society of North Texas.

Almost all the horses were identified as Egyptian Arabians, many of them with rare bloodlines. There are fewer than 30,000 registered Egyptian Arabians in the world.

Sixty-six-year-old Gordon Dennis Key, of Ranazans Arabians, signed the animals over to the humane society, which set about rehoming them.

The bidding process was devised by the society after consulting with key Arabian industry leaders. Prospective bidders had to apply for registration for the right to bid. They were vetted to ensure they had the experience to handle the horses, most of whom are unbroken.

While the society received several hundred inquiries about adopting the horses - at one stage they had four lines receiving calls, as well as cellphones - the vetted list of approved bidders considered to have suitable credentials amounted to a little over 100 people.

The society's lead humane investigator, Tammy Roberts, said 76 of the horses have been offered in the auction process, which closes this week. She told Horsetalk today that one of the breeding mares had reached $7500 and others had reached $2500.

There have been several bids of at least $2000. Even some of the older geldings were attracting bidder interest, around the $100 to $300 mark.

About 20 of the horses have so far attracted bids.

"We just want to see these horses in good homes and being cared for. They have been through so much."

Roberts said many of the horses were older. She said there were two yearlings, several 3-5-year-olds and a large group aged 8-10. The remainder were mostly over 20.

She expected some of the horses would remain without homes after the auction and the society would sift through the applications in a bid to get the horses suitably rehomed.

Nearly all the horses have been formally identified and have been matched to registration paperwork.

"Some wonderful Arabian people came in," she says. They went through the paperwork, checked those with brands and managed to match nearly all the animals with their formal paperwork.

She said the society was still getting calls about the horses, including overseas interest, which would likely lead to more bidders being approved.

Some of the horses were found in stalls thick with dung and urine.
Roberts said the horses had improved remarkably since they were seized, in particular the mares, which had been in generally better condition than the others at the time the animals were seized.

Their improving condition has seen some of them grow feistier, she noted, with staff getting the odd nip and bite.

Roberts said the Humane Society of North Texas had spent $200,000 so far this year on equine cruelty cases.

"We have taken on over 500 horses in the last two years," she said.

She praised the arabian horse community for its support.

"The arab community has stepped up to assist in volunteering and raising some funds." One organisation raised $2000 to help feed the horses, she said.

"We would like to see more of this in the horse world," she said. The arab community had set an example that she would like to see other breed groups follow.

Roberts said the Denton County District Attorney's Office was continuing its investigation into the treatment of the horses before their seizure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Retired Racehorse Training Project Kicks off in Maryland

(photo by John Chun)

(Press Release from

Both the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Horse Breeders Association are supporting a new project to train Maryland riders to work with ex-racehorses.

Maryland trainer Steuart Pittman, Jr. of Dodon Farm in Davidsonville is kicking off the Retired Racehorse Training Project on October 4, with a ticketed event at Maryland Therapeutic Riding in Crownsville.

"Retired racehorses are a forgotten treasure in the horse world," said Pittman. "Twenty years ago recreational riders thought nothing of hopping on these animals and heading off to their local horse show. Today we have misdirected our obsession with safety against these horses simply because they are enthusiastic about their work. When trained and ridden well these are some of the most responsive and safest horses anywhere."

The Retired Racehorse Training Symposium will show ex-racers at all stages of their post-race training with riders at various skill levels. The audience will learn what it takes to ride and train these horses effectively, starting with the balance and tact of a jockey.

"The only way to drastically increase the market for horses off the track is to demystify the race horse," Pittman said. "They are for the most part happy animals who have been treated like kings by expert horsemen at the track. They come away ready to learn and eager to please. It's an issue that horse folks are passionate about, both inside and outside the racing industry. It's an area where a little education can go a long way toward solving a big problem if we can reach enough people."

Ticket sales for the October 4 symposium have exceeded expectations. Plans are being made for a national tour of these events in 2010, and for a series of sessions in January at the Maryland Horse World Expo. Tickets and additional information are available online.

The symposium will take place in the indoor arena at Maryland Therapeutic Riding in Crownsville, Md. from 1-5 p.m. with an intermission. Tickets will cost $25, with $5 of that going directly to Maryland Therapeutic Riding

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