Saving Horses Is Saving People, Too
Founded nearly three decades ago, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s mission is clear and simply stated: To save Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter.
The sad truth is that a vast majority of the general public and even many racing fans are unaware of the sad fate that awaits thousands of Thoroughbreds each year. They assume each horse is assured a safe and graceful retirement once his racing days are over. Their perception of the “Sport of Kings” is one where great personal wealth and lifelong benevolence to all horses are givens. Unfortunately, this perception does not reflect reality.
Reality is a Thoroughbred industry made up largely of owners with only modest resources and current economics that dictate that among all owners, no matter how responsible and well-intended, only a relatively few are capable of maintaining even a single Thoroughbred once it is unable to earn its keep on the track. Reality is a world where horse meat is in demand in many foreign countries and over 10,000 American racehorses each year are shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. This is a reality the TRF is determined to change.
The TRF was founded in 1983; two years later, we had our first retiree. His name was Promised Road and he was typical of the type of Thoroughbred that needs someone’s help and a caring home. He was then 9, an undistinguished campaigner whose career ended with a sixth-place finish in a $3,500 claiming race.
There have been thousands more like him who have come under the care of the TRF. Today, the TRF is the oldest and largest equine sanctuary of its kind in the world.
The TRF is about more than helping horses in need. Early in our history, Founder and Eclipse Award winner Monique S. Koehler negotiated a milestone agreement with the State of New York Department of Correctional Services. In exchange for land use and labor at the states Walkill Correctional Facility, the TRF would design, staff and maintain a vocational training program in equine care and management for inmates.
Upon the completion of their sentences, many former inmates who have worked with the horses have gone on to become productive, solid citizens and have been quick to give credit to the TRF program. For those who have come from hard scrabble backgrounds, theres no denying the emotional benefits and self esteem derived from caring for, trusting and, in many cases, loving another being. This unique and life-affirming TRF program has been replicated at correctional facilities in eight states.
Most horses under TRF care suffered career-ending injuries on the track that make them suitable only for quiet retirement as pasture. However, hundreds of TRF horses have successfully been retrained and adopted out to homes where they began new lives as pets, competition horses, police mounts, or equine-assisted therapy partners.
While the TRF can point with pride to its many accomplishments over the decades, the realization of the ultimate goal — saving all Thoroughbred racehorses from needless suffering or slaughter — is not yet in sight. The TRF must maintain the operating resources needed to ensure long-term continuity of care for our 1,050 current retirees.
To do so, we need your help. The TRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt organization entirely dependent on public contributions. 100% of our budget comes from generous individuals, businesses, and foundations. Your support will make a difference to a Thoroughbred in jeopardy.
Visit us at www.trfinc.org