The Birds and Bees or Where DO Retired Racehorses go?

Of all the Thoroughbreds who head to the track, many are injured, found to be slow, or just plain unsuited to the life. The topic of TB rescue, rehabilitation,  and re-homing is now receiving much deserved publicity, making the general public aware of the plight of the unwanted, which often ends up in slaughterhouses. Off-track TB(OTTB) rescue and retraining farms thankfully fill a crucial gap here, including farms of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation(TRF), ReRun, Inc., New Vocations, and many, many more.

My hunt for my own partner started, unknown to me, last October, when I had a week of vacation with no firm plans. My oldest friend operates Wind Hill, a first-class TB breeding farm in Shelbyville, and she had adopted two geldings, one from the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center(MMSC), and another also from a prison in FL, another branch of the TRF. Although I had regularly gone out to see the new foals, and visit, my contact with horses had been limited for the last ten years. So, I call her up and ask if I can just go fool around with the “guys”, LT and Phil. Of course!! Thus starts my journey-

My heart springs open so widely at being reconnected with horses, and the integral part they are in me, that I start my quest. Despite my feelings that I was pretty connected to the horse world, I was fairly ignorant of the opportunities offered for finding an OTTB. Not for long, though! Quickly finding the MMSC site, the video beauty of a chestnut doing dressage caught my eye. Little did I know then that this was the world renowned Invincible Vince, King of All the Racehorses! Site info said he was ten years old, talented at dressage, and had no interest in jumping. Me, either- perfect! I should probably tell you here that I am still unable, at my advancing age, to look at either horses or dogs without wanting to bring one home. I mean REALLY WANT to bring one home! Vince is $4000, and I think he’ll be quickly snapped up. SecondStride, an OTTB retraining farm in Louisville, where I live, has a nice three year old that I decide to look at first.

Second Stride, located at Moserwood Farm, strikes me as a lovely place. The horse I visit isn’t quite ready, though, but I ask about boarding. A stall is available. Vince is amazingly still available. An appointment is made, we meet and have a lovely lesson with the MMSC Director, Susanna Thomas, and a contract is signed. Tears stream down my face to such a degree that I fear they’ll question my sanity and revoke the contract, but they are tears of joy. When we left the farm and got rid of the horses ten years earlier, I honestly never thought I’d never have another horse, and resigned myself to it, in the way that life is life, and must be dealt with, no sense feeling sorry for myself about it. The biggest factor in my tears,though, is my mother, who died two years earlier. In the only fight of my marriage where I left and went to my mom’s house, she said words which are etched forever in my heart, “There’s not a thing wrong with your horses, honey! If you give them up now for him, it’ll just be something else next.” My mom is definitely right beside me in the MMSC office. From the other side, I can feel her, and know she is instrumental in putting Vince and me together. I know that for a fact.

Right here is probably a good place to stop, and just say, “Thank you, Mom. You made me who I am. You took me to riding lessons every Saturday for years, you supported my choices, and you loved my dogs and horses. My heart has a hole since you’ve been gone, but the time I spend with Vince slowly heals that. Thank you for putting us together. I love you.” And the Big V, of course!  🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!


1 comment so far

  1. Natalie Keller Reinert on

    Oh horses! Oh dogs! Oh love! All these bits and pieces of us, wrapped up in one another and inextricable from each other, making us who we are, and we’re never complete until we recognize their places in our hearts.

    That’s enough sentimentality from me. Darling Vince, Kentucky Derby champion, good job fixing your mom! And making her crazy as sons do.

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