This week, I wrote an article for Bleacher Report titled "Ex-Race Horse War Buckaroo Is Canadian Olympic Hero" about an ex-racehorse that has gone on to be at the top of his new sport. But when checking on the article today, I was a bit bothered to read a comment that stated "Great story. Not too many racehorses get a second career other than as a stud." from a reader.
At first I wondered how anyone could get that idea, but then it occurred to me that for those that only watch mainstream racing where most of the horses go off to have a stud career or go to the broodmare pasture when they are retired, this is their reality. For them, horses compete then go on to have the next generation of racehorses (or are disposed of).
But really, there is a lot that goes on after a racehorse retires to find them a new home.
Many racing and breeding programs have put after-racing life on the front burner over the past few years. One of the most high profile farms in the spotlight on this front is Three Chimneys. Three Chimneys has their post-racing protocol posted on their website and will help any Three Chimneys connected horse find a new home if needed.
Others connected to the industry are also vocalizing that they will help rehome their old racehorses, either for a career after racing or as a pasture pet if needed. From breeding operations to those that only race horses, many are getting involved in making sure their horses find new homes.
In addition to this, there are many private organizations that help rehome racehorses after they retire. They are not connected to most of the horses in any way, they are just willing to spend time helping these amazing animals find their way into a new career.
Some of the organizations, such as CANTER post racehorses looking for new homes on their website to easily connect buyer and seller (there are also private parties that do this). Others, such as New Vocations and Maker's Mark Secretariat Center keep the horses on their property (or at foster homes) and rehab or retrain them until they are adopted.
Racetracks are also getting involved in the after care world with their own programs. Gulfstream Park's After-Care program is only one of these types of programs with Mr. Frank Stronach matching money currently taken from Gulfstream Purses to ensure Thoroughbreds are given a chance after their racing careers.
But these aren't the only programs out there. Many programs like the ones above exist to find thoroughbreds a new career when they are done running. All of these programs are easy to find by doing a simple Google search and can point potential buyers in the right direction towards adopting ex-racehorses.
While causal race fans mostly only see those horses that go to the breeding shed when they are done racing, steps are slowly being taken to bring other retired racers into their view as well. Other parts of the industry are slowly being introduced into public view and it's time that Thoroughbred After-Care programs join them in the spotlight.