OTTB charities join the growing TAA ‘network’

A Thoroughbred enjoys a new career with the Square Peg Foundation, one of the TAA-accredited Thoroughbred charities. Photo courtesy TAA

A Thoroughbred enjoys a new career with the Square Peg Foundation, one of the TAA-accredited Thoroughbred charities. Photo courtesy TAA

As part of a growing effort by the Thoroughbred industry to take care of retiring racehorses coming off the track, eight Thoroughbred charities were just recently added to a growing network of facilities deemed to have met the “high bar” of best practices and standards for Thoroughbred aftercare.

Following on-site inspections of both horses and farms, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance welcomed eight Thoroughbred charities into the fold for the first time, as well as 19 previously accredited charities. The designations bring the total number of TAA-accredited Thoroughbred charities to 64, says Stacie Clark Rogers, operations consultant.

The accreditation, which indicates a charity adheres to a rigorous code of operations, from horse keeping to ethical practices, acts like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, Rogers explains, noting that charities within the network receive funding, guidance and help from the TAA and the racing industry. Accreditation is awarded for a two-year period, after which organizations must reapply. All TAA accredited organizations are eligible to receive financial grants to support the care of Thoroughbreds.

An OTTB enjoys the day at the Foxie G Foundation. Foxie G was recently accredited by the TAA.

An OTTB enjoys the day at the Foxie G Foundation. Foxie G was recently accredited by the TAA.

The following charities have been newly added to the TAA: After the Races Nottingham, Penn.; Galloping Out North Riverside, Ill.; Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds Cocoa, Fla.; Out Side In Grand Haven, Mich.; RVR Horse Rescue Riverview, Fla.; Second Chance Thoroughbreds, Spencer, N.Y.; The Foxie G Foundation, Libertytown, Md.; War Horses at Rose Bower, Appomattox, Va.

The newly added charities can feel proud to have achieved this designation, she adds.

“What separates the TAA-approved charities is that we have set a high bar to be reached in order to get accredited,” Rogers says. “These charities must do their due diligence, and we monitor them. If there are issues, we can help fix them. Charities that are accredited with us hit a standard that involves good management and horse care.”

Horses in the herd of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation enjoy a romp at the TRF's James River facility. The TRF was accredited by the TAA last year.

Horses in the herd of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation enjoy a romp at the TRF’s James River facility. The TRF was accredited by the TAA last year.

Noting that the funding and goodwill that flows to TAA-accredited charities would not have been possible without the avid support of the race industry, Rogers adds, “We began with seed money from the Breeders’ Cup, the Jockey Club and Keeneland … and as we’ve grown, the industry has embraced our efforts even more.”

Jimmy Bell, TAA and Godolphin America president says that all 64 charities serving Thoroughbreds across the country, including the 27 newly accredited and reaccredited, are performing horse keeping at the highest level.

“The organizations accredited by the TAA represent the top echelon of aftercare services, ensuring that the horses retiring from racing are receiving the best possible care and opportunities to find new careers or retirements,” he says.

The 27 organizations that received accreditation this year are: After the Races, Bright Futures Farm, CANTER Michigan, Equestrian Inc., Equine Advocates, Final Furlong, Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, Friends of Ferdinand, Galloping Out (Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Thoroughbred Rescue Fund), Harmony and Hope Horse Haven, Heaven Can Wait, Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds, Illinois Equine Humane Center, Los Angeles Pet Rescue (Farralone Farms), Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program, Our Mims Retirement Haven, Out Side In, R.A.C.E. Fund, Remember Me Rescue, RVR Horse Rescue, Second Chance Thoroughbreds, Second Stride, Square Peg Foundation, The Foxie G Foundation, Thoroughbred Athletes, Tranquility Farm (The Harry A. Biszantz Memorial Center), and War Horses at Rose Bower.

The full list of all 64 TAA-accredited organizations can be found at thoroughbredaftercare.org/taa-accredited-organizations.

OTTBs complete ‘ride of a lifetime,’ cross USA

Valerie Ashker, 60, finished a six-month, 3,300-mile ride on her OTTB Primitivo this weekend. Ashker and Peter Friedman road from California to Virginia to raise awareness about OTTBs. Photo by and courtesy Tylir Penton

Valerie Ashker, 60, finished a six-month, 3,300-mile ride on her OTTB Primitivo this weekend. Ashker and Peter Friedman road from California to Virginia to raise awareness about OTTBs. Photo by and courtesy Tylir Penton

Nearly six months since setting out from California —on horseback— to tackle the ride of a lifetime across the United States, Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman completed the 3,300-mile journey last weekend at Virginia’s Middleburg Training Track.

Ashker’s daughter and four-star Eventer Laine Ashker wept with joy, as friends, family and supporters gathered to welcome the tired travelers, and thousands more watched online, as the two unflappable Thoroughbred ex-racehorses trotted onto the track as if they’d just come in from a hack.

Glistening in good health, and sporting robust figures, Primitivo, 7, and Solar Express, 17, carried Ashker and Friedman toward the welcoming committee, which was organized by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. And for old time’s sake, the two racehorses were galloped toward the track’s finish line—their long ride over, a page turned to another chapter.

Primitivo
Sire: Monashee Mountain
Dam: Siberian Shamrock, by Siberian Summer
Foal date: May 6, 2009
*
Solar Express
Sire: Bold Badgett
Dam: Proper Look, by Properantes
Foal date: May 18, 1999
“I’ve actually been melancholy,” says Valerie Ashker. “After all this time, it’s hard to start a new chapter.”

Ashker set out on the blockbuster trip in early May, departing Crow’s Ear Farm in Georgetown, Calif., with Friedman, a man who’d only ever sat on a horse a time or two before this ride. But when his dear friend Ashker said she planned to ride an OTTB across the country to raise awareness about the breed, he amazed his work friends and saddled up to join her.

“I’m a machinist by trade and everyone at work hears me moaning and groaning about my aches and pains. They had a bet that I wouldn’t make it through Nevada,” Friedman says. “It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it was so rewarding.”

Ashker, who sustained broken ribs and a broken clavicle and other health challenges en route, encouraged Friedman throughout a journey that saw the novice rider pilot a 17-year-old “on the muscle” Thoroughbred over mountains, and through city streets.

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman are overjoyed as they arrive in Middleburg, Va.

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman are overjoyed as they arrive in Middleburg, Va.

Friedman adds, “If Valerie could ride with broken ribs, I couldn’t not ride. I learned a lot watching her; she was my guide all along.”

The pair’s accomplishment amazed Laine Ashker.

“Thousands of riders train to ride a four-star event, but I can probably count on one hand the number of people who’ve crossed the United States riding one horse,” Laine Ashker says. “What they’ve done is just so much more amazing. But I don’t think many people grasp it. It’s not like a little trail ride. If you think about what you’ve done the last six months; for instance, I’ve been to Ireland and New Jersey, I broke a shoulder, and this entire time, they’ve been out on this ride.”

And the daily riding is only one part of the trip, which included breaking down and setting up camp, erecting corral fencing, feeding and watering the horses, and of course, making dinner for themselves. “It’s the true American way, a story of grit and perseverance and getting it done,” says Laine Ashker.

With her trip now behind her, Valerie Ashker is making plans to turn a new page in her career. She recently sold her farm in California and will reside at Laine’s farm, Keystone Acres in Chesterfield, Va. and she plans to develop a series of training videos that take an OTTB novice from purchase to training and showing. She will continue to update her Facebook page, 2nd Makes Thru Starting Gates with news and updates of her next chapter.

“This whole trip has been so amazing,” Valerie Ashker says. “We’ve had so much support along the way. I hope it helps to empower people to give an OTTB a chance.”

Rood & Riddle revamps Wellington hospital

Dr. Raul Bras of Rood & Riddle is among the highly skilled team offering services at the revamped facility in Wellington, Fla. Photo courtesy Lisa Lancaster

Dr. Raul Bras of Rood & Riddle is among the highly skilled team offering services at the revamped facility in Wellington, Fla. Photo courtesy Lisa Lancaster

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital recently announce it opened the doors of its revamped Wellington facility to clients on Nov. 18.

The world-renowned equine hospital, which is in the process of updating the current facility with a new surgical center, is looking forward to supporting the equestrian community of Florida by providing emergency and elective surgical procedures, as well as advanced diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, podiatry, and ambulatory services, according to a press release. The treatment center is located on SouthShore Boulevard in Wellington.

“We are excited to expand our services to Wellington on a year round basis,” said managing partner Scott Pierce, DVM. “The addition of the Wellington property allows us to better serve our many clients who compete in Florida every year, both in sport horse activities and racing.”

Pierce added that the entire team of seasoned veterinarians and technicians are eager to bring Rood & Riddle’s world-class, reputable veterinary care to the competitive equestrian community in Wellington and south Florida.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is revamping its Wellington, Fla. facility and opened its doors to clients over the weekend.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is revamping its Wellington, Fla. facility and opened its doors to clients over the weekend.

And the state-of-the-art facility, which is on target to be completed in early 2017, will offer much, including five large-patient stalls, an induction and recovery stall, transfer area, surgical suite, client viewing area, and a treatment room. All of the amenities of the new facility will be climate controlled and continuously staffed. Rood & Riddle veterinarians will be performing all treatments in the existing surgical suite and induction/recovery stall while the new facility is being completed.

Board certified surgeon Jose Bras, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, arrived on Nov. 18 in Wellington, ready to accept individual appointments. The team is also equipped to offer 24/7 emergency referrals.

In addition to emergencies and other horse care, the team will provide elective surgeries, and a wide range of diagnostic imaging services as well as internal medicine and neurology consultations with Steve Reed, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM and podiatry services with Scott Morrison, DVM, and Raul Bras, DVM, CJF.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Wellington is located at 5320 S. Shore Blvd. Wellington, FL 33449. To make an appointment or in the event of an emergency, please call 561-383-5437.