Bridges to Second Careers Roundtables at Thoroughbred Makeover


Bridges to Second Careers Roundtables at Thoroughbred Makeover

Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) announced today a schedule of meetings to identify both the strengths and the challenges of existing programs that transition Thoroughbred racehorses into careers after racing. Bridges to Second Careers Roundtables will take place on October 27 and 28 at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium Presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America.

In 2014 RRP published results of a survey in which 2,700 owners identified the means by which they acquired 4,200 off-track Thoroughbreds that became their riding partners. It was titled Exploring the Bridges to Second Careers for Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses and showed horses coming through direct sales from racing owners, private resellers, nonprofit aftercare facilities and others. A 2016 analysis of how the first 400 Thoroughbred Makeover trainers acquired horses eligible to compete in this year’s Makeover confirmed that the bridges to second careers are thriving and diverse.

Bridges to Second Career Roundtables will provide a voice to the people who do this work. Each roundtable will identify the strengths of its models, challenges to growth, and recommendations for future collaboration and expansion. Recommendations from each roundtable will be presented during the Thoroughbred Makeover Finale on Saturday afternoon in the TCA Covered Arena.

RRP board member Sue Smith will serve as convener of these roundtables and author a report on the findings. In addition to her position on the board of RRP, Smith serves as Executive Director of CANTER Pennsylvania, is on the board of Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, is on the board of CANTER USA, and has authored many popular articles on the topic of transitioning racehorses to second careers. Roundtable times and descriptions are below.

Nonprofit Aftercare Facilities
Thursday 10 am – 12 noon in TCA Covered Arena Club Lounge

Facilities that must comply with IRS rules for nonprofits, raise money from public charities, solicit funds in compliance with their state laws, and withstand the public scrutiny that charitable status invites carry a special burden. These organizations are eligible for funding from Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) once they have been in operation for three years, have at least five Thoroughbreds in their care, and meet accreditation standards. Representatives from TAA, Thoroughbred Charities of America, ASPCA, and other funding bodies will attend this session to hear from their grant recipients about the challenges they face in acquiring, rehabbing, training, and placing their horses.

Private Resellers, Retrainers, and Agents
Thursday 2pm – 4pm in TCA Covered Arena Club Lounge

As the demand for off-track Thoroughbreds is restored to its pre-warmblood-invasion levels, we see more professionals in the riding industry including these horses in their businesses, and more racing owners depending on these people to sell or place their retiring horses with buyers who have the skills and the commitment to care for them. Whether they do one horse per year as a hobby, or thirty per year as a business, these people are the ones who protect both sellers and buyers from making bad decisions. Like all businesses, they depend on satisfied customers for promotion and pay their bills out of the funds from their sales. This session will be led by people actively engaged in this work and identify strategies that RRP and others can employ to promote it.

On-Track Screening and Placement Programs
Friday 10 am – 12 noon in TCA Covered Arena Club Lounge

Racetracks are where horses run their last races, particularly the tracks that run long meets and have smaller purses. Horsemen at some of these tracks have created programs that screen, list, and sometimes place their horses. Examples are Turning For Home at Parx, New Start at Penn National, and Fingerlakes Finest at Fingerlakes. Some take ownership of any eligible horse, do vet evaluations, and send them with subsidies to rehab or training farms, while others act more as listing services or agents for direct sales. Representatives of these organizations will share their models and horsemen from tracks without programs will discuss possibilities. The group will also identify strategies to share information and provide assistance to emerging programs.

Thoroughbred Show Organizers
Friday 1pm – 3pm in TCA Covered Arena Club Lounge

While horse shows do not directly transition racehorses to riding, the recent proliferation of Thoroughbred-only shows and prizes for Thoroughbreds at open shows has created an incentive for Thoroughbred ownership, increasing demand and market value for these horses. This roundtable will address the topics of marketing, fundraising, show management, class opportunities, and market saturation. Representatives from Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program, Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, Take2, and others will attend.

Friday 3pm – 5pm in TCA Covered Arena

Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) is a completely volunteer-run national organization responsible for placement of over 20,000 Thoroughbreds primarily through its online trainer listings. Some of its sixteen affiliates also operate programs that take ownership of horses for rehabilitation, retraining, and placement. CANTER is hosting its own roundtable as a means of recruiting volunteers, adding new affiliates, and soliciting ideas to better serve the cause. CANTER leaders will convene the session but it is open to the public.

RRP logo
Retired Racehorse Project logo

Information about attending the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium is It takes place October 27-30 at Kentucky Horse Park and features 500 Thoroughbred racehorses performing in ten equestrian disciplines with less than a year’s training for $100,000 in prize money. In addition to the roundtables, the weekend includes 80 vendors, twelve training demonstrations, five seminars, a horse sale, and competition in barrel racing, competitive trails, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, show hunters, show jumpers, and working ranch.

Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) works to facilitate placement of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers by increasing demand for them in the marketplace and inspiring an army of equestrians to provide the training that secures their futures. RRP offers online directories, educational resources, and publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine. Its popular Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium is scheduled for October 27-30, 2016 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.