Photos courtesy of Second Chance Thoroughbreds
When the board members of Settlement Stable saw the need for another aftercare facility in New York after visiting Finger Lakes Race Track in October 2011, they jumped into action.
Soon after, the riding-lesson and horse-training facility was renamed Second Chance Thoroughbreds and the stable’s attention was turned toward retraining retired racehorses.
The program is now a 501(c)(3) charity and focuses on retraining and adopting out retired racehorses while still giving riding lessons and holding a summer horsemanship program for children.
Almost all the retired racehorses that go through the program have six months of retraining before they are made available for adoption. The horses learn the basics of riding and, if they are able, they also learn to jump and go to shows to get valuable experience before going to a new home.
Potential adopters only have to wait about a week to see if their application is approved but there are some restrictions on who can adopt a horse from Second Chance. However, there is no restriction on the discipline in which a horse can participate.
“We have a few restrictions for adopters in order to ensure the future well-being of our Thoroughbreds,” said Shannon Ryan, a Second Chance Thoroughbreds board member. “For minors to adopt a horse, we must have a parent sign our contract. Our adoption application gives us an idea of the potential adopters, including income, where the Thoroughbred will be kept and the future career intentions of the horse.
TWO BRASH RETIRED FROM RACING IN FEBRUARY 2013 AFTER WINNING MORE THAN $200,000
“We like to see potential adopters who may have less horse- or Thoroughbred-specific experience to have trainers or know other professionals who can lend their knowledge. … All Thoroughbreds are adopted under a no racing/no auction/no breeding contract with right of first refusal.”
Second Chance also recommends that any potential adopter come and ride the prospective horse to help make sure the pairing is successful. In the two years Second Chance has been running, it has already had its horses find success in the show ring.
“Some horses [from the program] worth noting are Just Plan Partners, who won the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program 2-foot, 6-inch jumper award in 2012 at Chemung County Fair; Whichbushdouprefer and Deo Goes Rocky, who are both becoming local eventing superstars; and Offshore Score, who is shaping into an amazing hunter,” Ryan said.
“Navedano is our favorite success story. Her trainer wanted to retire her after one last race; she ended up winning that race, her 56th start, and following her arrival to our facility, she won the hearts of everyone. Nave was in our care for 10 months before finding her forever home with a young girl in Albany.”
NAVEDANO IN HER NEW HOME
Second Chance has seen the Thoroughbred breed come back into the spotlight in recent years for a variety of reasons, but Second Chance’s Executive Director Collette Duddy says there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Recently Thoroughbreds have been brought back into the limelight; the all-Thoroughbred shows/classes has certainly helped. We hosted our first all-Thoroughbred horse show in July 2013 and have plans for a bigger and better show in 2014,” Duddy said. “We also want to change the stereotype - which still exists - about the ‘crazy’ Thoroughbred. Still, the staggering number of Thoroughbreds without homes after their racing careers have ended needs to be addressed and more help is need from the racing industry.”
Both Ryan and Duddy recommend that only experienced horse people or those with a trainer buy a horse straight from the track. An adoption agency frequently is the best place for first-time owners to get an off-the-track Thoroughbred as the agency has evaluated the horses in its program and knows if they are a good fit for the rider.
However, Ryan and Duddy also have one simple piece of advice for those that may have recently purchased a horse off the track.
“Give them some downtime to be a horse,” Ryan said. “Thoroughbreds are very athletic, versatile and willing animals and if you take the time to work with them and build their trust, they will give you 100%.”
In addition to retraining and adopting out retired racehorses, Second Chance Thoroughbreds also holds bi-annual gelding clinics open to all breeds. Sixteen stallions have already been gelded through the recently added low-cost clinics and Second Chance already has plans in the works for the first clinic of 2014.
DUTCH SMOOTHIE WAS GELDED ON ARRIVAL AT SECOND CHANCE AND IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION
Those interested in helping Second Chance Thoroughbreds can help in many ways from volunteering to donating money and supplies.
“We love volunteers and always have things that need to be done, including horse care, barn and pasture maintenance, and even riding,” Ryan said. “Additionally, supplies and money go a long way toward the care of our horses, and every little bit helps! We are actively fundraising through the Global Giving Winter Challenge with hopes to retire another Thoroughbred from the track this year and also allow 5-10 underprivileged children the opportunity to be a part of our riding and horsemanship program.”
If you know of a Thoroughbred Aftercare program that you think should be covered in America’s Best Racing’s Aftercare Program Spotlight, email Melissa Bauer-Herzog (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the program’s name and website.