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Racehorse Retirement

The wonder of the Thoroughbred racehorse, and the quality that draws us to them, is their genetic desire to run as far and as fast as they can. Added to the traditional training they receive, the effort they put out in any race surpasses the heights achieved by human athletes during championship encounters in basketball, football or even marathon racing. Like all great athletes, they are prone to injury - in fact, especially prone: when they are competing, over 1,000 pounds of muscle and bone land jarringly on spindly front legs 120 times every quarter of a mile. They tell us about their injuries by the manner in which they eat, walk, run and respond to human handling.
So the vigilant owner and trainer must be a consistent monitor of the horse's condition. Once the physical signs of racing begin to show up, decisive action must be taken. The question the owner must eventually face when, sadly, the horse's career is threatened by injury is, what do we do? It is particularly difficult when the horse is unfit for breeding. Most fillies can be retired as a broodmare to begin a second career. Very few male horses have that option. Experienced owners often have people willing to give a retired horse a home, where it may be used as a riding or "pleasure" horse after weeks or months of recuperation and retraining.

For those owners who own farms, the question of maintaining a retired Thoroughbred is the decision to provide food and pasture. A large majority of owners do not have this luxury available. A minimum fee for care at a boarding farm along with a life expectancy of 15 to 20 more years (after its brief racing career), a retired horse becomes a major non-returnable investment. Some Aftercare facilities ask for a donation to relinquish the horse to their ownership and care.  The prudent owner will set aside money in an escrow account to insure their horses receive proper care from the time their racing career ends up until they are placed with an Aftercare facility.
But there is an investment you can make that insures a workable future for horses who can no longer race and cannot or should not be used for breeding. There are many equine adoption agencies throughout the United States.

Many are listed under "State Retirement Listing". Additional Thoroughbred retirement information can be found on the following websites:
Thoroughbred Charities of America
Our mission: To provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue and research and by helping the people who work with them. TCA is a charitable organization that provides grants to non-profit organizations that work toward improving the lives of Thoroughbred racehorses and the people who work with them. TCA offers the Thoroughbred industry and its supporters a way to give to one organization while helping many.
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) is an organization designed to serve as both the accrediting body for aftercare facilities that care for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their racing careers and a fundraising body to support these approved facilities. If your organization provides aftercare services to Thoroughbreds, we want to know more about you…
The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC)
The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) is pleased to announce the addition of several new educational documents available to the industry and the general public. These handouts are available on the UHC’s website under Before You Buy and Options for Horse Owners, and will provide additional information for both first time horse buyer on how to “Own Responsibly” and what “Owning Responsibly” entails, as well as information for the current horse owner on re-homing horses and more.
“The UHC has transitioned into an organization that individuals and other organizations turn to for information and education,” said UHC Director Ashley Furst. “Buying a horse or pony is a big decision, and also one of the most costly purchases that you will make in your lifetime. We want prospective owners to do the necessary research before purchasing a horse, and felt these short handouts would be helpful in getting started on the journey to horse ownership. We also wanted to educate current horse owners a little more on what their options are should they find themselves no longer able to care for the horses.”
Topics in the handouts include:
  • How to Pick the Perfect Horse
  • Questions to Ask When Rehoming a Horse
  • Implications of Charitable Contributions
  • Basic Horse Care: Shelter
  • Basic Horse Care: Nutrition
  • I can no longer care for my horse, what options are available?
  • Preventative Health Care
  • And more!
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation
The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) is the largest equine sanctuary in the world devoted to the rescue, retirement, rehabilitation and retraining of Thoroughbred racehorses no longer able to compete on the track. We currently care for over 1,050 retired and rescued racehorses and have adopted out more than 800 to loving homes. At re-training farms around the country, we prepare racehorses for adoption as riding and companion horses. At eight correctional facilities, inmates build life skills while participating in a vocational training program as they provide supervised care to our retired horses.
The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP)
To encourage the retraining of Thoroughbreds into other disciplines upon completion of careers in racing or breeding, The Jockey Club is proud to announce the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.). T.I.P. offers sponsorship for Thoroughbred-only classes and divisions, high point Thoroughbred awards at open horse shows and competitions, a Thoroughbred of the Year Award and a Young Rider of the Year Award.

The Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Connect
Thoroughbred Connect casts a wide net to help ensure that Thoroughbreds are properly cared for when their racing or breeding careers are over. Read more...
Also, The Jockey Club has amended Rule 18, Sold Without Pedigree, to Sold as Retired from Racing. The amended rule enables an owner to retire a Thoroughbred from racing without affecting its breeding privileges, so its resulting offspring are eligible for registration. This helps ensure that when an owner retires a racehorse from the racetrack, the horse will not be eligible to race again even if ownership changes. Click the following link to learn more about this amended rule: Retired from Racing