Retired Racehorses Get a Second Chance at Second Stride: A Kentucky-Based Adoption Program
When Michael Jordan hung up his shoes and retired, for the second time that is, he became a business mogul and a team owner. When Tom Brady retired, uh, also for the second time, he immediately signed on as a TV analyst and minority owner in a racecar team (seriously Google that one). But what happened when Seabiscuit retired? Or California Chrome? What about your favorite and mine, Ghostzapper?
Not All Racehorses Get the Same Retirement
Some get to go to literal green pastures, where they spend the rest of their life in open spaces and top-notch facilities designed to maximize comfort, generally for breeding purposes. Others become trained for other types of sporting events like showjumping, and others unfortunately are euthanized or go to slaughter auctions. Awh.
But worry not! There's a noble group of folks in Kentucky that are dedicated to providing the utmost, perfect home for any retired four-legged athlete once their racing days are behind them.
There's More Than the Racetrack
Second Stride is an adoption program based out of Kentucky that's deeply committed to not just finding these horses homes, but a new purpose in their life. Given their intelligent nature and strong stature, they're incredibly suited to naturally fulfill many types of roles besides contesting for photo finishes. Second Stride believes the first 3-6 months after the racetrack are the most pivotal to giving these thoroughbreds new "jobs." Yes, they refer to them as jobs.
The organization has a pretty impressive track record of helping these animals once they're done on the track, and pardon me while I note down how clever of a metaphor that was of me to use. Since 2005, Second Stride has given over 1,500 horses a new home!
Or job, as they're apparently called, which would make them one of the best employers in all of Kentucky. Nice.
READ MORE: WHY MY DAUGHTER LOVES HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS AND YOU MIGHT TOO
Their Goals Are Rooted in Passion, and Benefit Everyone Involved
It's clear that those that work at the Kentucky-based organization have the horses and the new owner's best interests at heart, as they go the extra length (another racing pun, boom) to better the industry. Follow these blue words here to see how they describe their goals:
"We strive to educate the riding community about the Thoroughbred racehorse and the racing industry. Second Stride also strives to educate the racing community about the needs of a general riding horse owner and the transitional needs of a horse right off the track. We found that proper handling for the first 3-6 months of these horses increased the success rate of a permanent match into a new job, and dramatically stopped the rotating of horses back and forth into the programs from failed matches."
It's wonderful to hear that these incredible creatures get another chance at fulfillment after they hang up the horseshoes and that there are such devoted people that are part of the process, which is far less than I can say about my own affinity to horses, as I've been extremely indifferent to them from a young age since my uncle put me on one backward and let it loose in my grandpa's cow pasture. Growing up on a farm is not for the faint of heart.
Want to Help?
There are several ways to get involved. If you are a seasoned horse person with the means to adopt a retired racehorse, you can see the list of adoptable horses here. If you think they are magnificent creatures but would rather support them from the ground, you can donate directly to Second Stride and/or be sure to attend their main fundraising event of the year that happens (quite conveniently) during Derby Week.
According to the Facebook event:
Join us 6:00 - 9:00pm for the only fundraiser Derby week that is specifically for the horses! A night of fun, friends, celebrity guests, handicapping the Derby, live entertainment, auctions, raffles and more. Celebrating and supporting Thoroughbred aftercare!
Photos provided by Gwen Davis / Davis Innovation Photo.
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