For the fifth consecutive year, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program is offering its annual half-off sale by shaving the cost off the adoption fee in an effort to re-home beautiful horses just in time for the holidays.
In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, New Vocation’s Program Director Anna Ford discusses the successful sale, which has in past years helped re-home as many as 40 horses in a single month, and she outlines other details a prospective adopter needs to know, as well as offering her picks for the ideal hunter/jumper, eventer and dressage prospects.
Q: What are your goals with this promotion, and how does it help the horses?
Our hope is to encourage more people to consider adopting a retired racehorse. We have over 90 horses in the program and are only able to take in a new horse once one is adopted and leaves. The concept is simple, the more horses we adopt the more horses we can take in.
Unfortunately it is a bit of a numbers game because there are so many horses retiring from the track everyday that are in need of an aftercare option. Even though we are taking in new horses weekly we are still unable to help them all as we only have funding for a certain number of stalls.
However, each horse is an individual and will receive the same quality care while they are with us.
Each horse will go to a home that has been carefully screened through our application process and willing to sign our adoption contract.
What many people don’t realize is that we have been doing this for over 21 years. Our growth has been slow, yet steady. We started by taking in 25 horses a year and 21 years later are taking in over 400.
Our goal this year is the same as last year. If we find homes for 40 again that is great! If we only find homes for 30, that is great too. At the end of the day we simply want to find homes for as many horses as possible! We feel that it can be about both quantity and quality at the same time.
Q: How many retired racehorses found homes during last year’s promotion?
Last year 40 horses were adopted in December.
Q: If you had to choose the perfect hunter/jumper, the perfect dressage and the perfect eventing prospect from your horses, who would you choose and why?
• Dressage: Cash Commander; is a powerhouse mover but due to his 15.2h size has been overlooked. Cash is one of those horses who is much bigger than what he measures. He is stout and takes up a lot of leg. Our trainer is 5’9″ and as seen in his photos she doesn’t appear too big for him. This guy has a great disposition, nice dressage type build and movement. He is our first horse to be ridden bridle less, which can also be seen on his profile.
• Hunter/Jumper: Sum Lucky Lad is only 2 but will be officially 3 years old come Jan. 1. This guy is flashy and would surely stand out in the hunter/jumper arena. He has fluid gaits, is completely sound, and a classy looking gelding.
• Eventing: Forest Ice has only been with us since Oct. 26, yet he is already showing us that he is very athletic, brave, and a quick study. On his profile you can watch him effortlessly go through a grid for the first time. Forest has both the mental and physical soundness to be an excellent eventer.
Q: Can anyone adopt a horse from New Vocations?
As mentioned above all potential adopters must go through our application process, which can be found on our website at newvocations.org.
Q: Typically, how long does the application process take, and where can prospective adopters see available horses?
The application process can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks depending on how quickly vet and personal references are received. And, we always list all of our horses on our website at www.newvocations.org as well as daily postings on Facebook.
Q: Where are your facilities located?
Our Thoroughbred facilities are located in Lexington, Ky., Marysville, Ohio Hummelstown, Pa. Our Standardbred facilities are located in Laurelville, Ohio, Laura, Ohio, and Manchester, Mich.
Q: How many horses are being offered with the half-off adoption fee this year, and are there any special movers who seem picture perfect for a next career?
That number changes everyday as we are post new horses daily. I believe today it is at 37. We have over 90 horses in our program, about half are being rehabilitated from an injury while the other have are either ready for adoption or are in the retraining stage prior to going up for adoption.
Q: Please describe the New Vocations best practices for preparing a racehorse as a future riding horse.
The evaluation process for each horse starts the moment they step off the trailer. We typically have information on each horse’s current or previous track injuries, however there are still some surprises.
All of our trainers are extremely qualified in evaluating injuries. They are working with retired racehorses all day everyday and have about seen it all.
Each horse is thoroughly evaluated and any injury new or old is noted.
If a horse appears to have an injury or soundness issue not noted in their history then we have one of our vets look at the horse to determine the necessary rehabilitation.
We have about 90 horses in our program on any given day. Fifty percent of those horses are being rehabilitated from a track injury while the other half are in the retraining and adoption stage.
Depending on the horse’s soundness the first step is to get them used to turn out. Most horses that come to us have not been turned out for months or some it has been years.
It’s amazing how much each horse seems to change once they get used to turn out and eventually find a buddy.
There are two things we look for when deciding if a horse is ready to start retraining. First, the horse must be mentally sound. We are looking for the horse to be comfortable with its new surroundings being turn out and stalled. They should be eating well and simply seem content as there is no reason to try to start training a horse that is uncomfortable or nervous with their new surroundings.
If so, you are only asking for a horse to act out. Secondly, the horse must be physically sound. We get in horses at all different stages of rehabilitation. Those horses are re-evaluated on a weekly basis as we are constantly watching for signs that they are sound and ready to start training.
So once the horse is both mentally and physically sound then we start the retraining process. Our goal with each horse is to have them able to walk, trot, and canter comfortably around the arena. Once we have a good understanding of who the horse is and what they would be best suited for then we put them up for adoption.
The longer a horse is with us the more training they will receive. Many are schooled over ground poles and small fences. At our Pennsylvania facility many of the horses are schooled over cross-country as well as used in the lesson program by Pony Club students. At our Kentucky facility some of the horses are hauled out to trail ride and school cross-country. Our goal is to get each horse started and then find them a suitable home that will continue their education.