Horses consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, like the 2-year-old above, and other Thoroughbreds will benefit from Niall and Stephanie Brennan's Final Furlong Horse Retirement. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
One of the top consignors of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, Niall Brennan not only helps horses start their careers but helps them into retirement as well.
Brennan and his wife started Final Furlong Horse Retirement to retire their graduates from the track at the conclusion of their racing careers and find them a new home. Since starting the program in 2009, Final Furlong has placed more than 75 retired racehorses into new homes. Adopters have to fill out a comprehensive contract that is a little different than normal contracts filled out by those adopting from other programs.
“All adopted horses leave our program with a signed contract, a letter of reference from a professional in the industry [such as a trainer] who will verify that the adopter has the ability to handle an OTTB, a letter from the attending vet attesting to the fact that he/she will be providing veterinary care and photos of the facility where the horse will be living, showing shelter, water and fencing,” said Stephanie Brennan.
Before making the horse available to potential adopters, Final Furlong keeps the horse for a minimum of 90 days. During this period, they evaluate the horse and reintroduce it to everyday things such as turnout with other horses. By the time the horse is ready for adoption, it can be handled safely without a chain, knows how to stand in cross-ties and has other basic ground training to help it along in a new career.
Over the past few years, Stephanie Brennan has seen an increase in popularity when it comes to off-the-track Thoroughbreds, mostly from eventers. However, she expects that to change soon.
“The majority of our horses go on to be eventers. [Event riders] seem to prefer the Thoroughbreds’ attitudes more so than hunter/jumpers. However, with the Thoroughbred class incentives at the major A shows, I think we will see that part of the industry pursuing more Thoroughbreds,” she said
Brennan recommends that those looking for off-the-track-Thoroughbreds go to a facility that knows the horses. Those programs will help potential adopters find the right horse for their needs, giving the partnership a better chance at succeeding. She also recommends you give a recently retired racehorse some time to just be a horse before starting it in a new career.
“Make sure the horse has had plenty of ‘let down’ time, otherwise you will be asking a horse to change its mental and physical constitution at the same time,” she said. “Let them get fat and happy and then they make a much easier transition. Be patient. Ninety-nine percent of Thoroughbreds want to please you; keep the communication simple.”
Final Furlong always welcomes visitors to see their horses with both Brennan and the program’s horses recommending that guests come with bags of treats.
One such horse is Alright Now, a newer horse to the program. On Aug. 30, the program claimed the gelding for $4,000 after following the horse for many years. He was adopted soon after coming off the track and will be heading to his new home in December.
Courtesy of Final Furlong Horse Retirement
“Alright Now had run three times in August and beat one horse,” Brennan said. “The trainer refused several offers and we had been following the horse since 2009 noting his poor performances. With the help of Anita Motion, Sue Kenny, Jane Buchanan and Robin Schuster we were able to organize his claim and bring the old warhorse home. He has been in our program for just over two weeks and has already been adopted.”
Final Furlong’s stories have been featured in stories in the Thoroughbred Daily News, most notably in “How to Save a Horse from Slaughter” and “Byanosejoe.”
Final Furlong was the Thoroughbred Charities of America charity of the month for September. To make donations to the program or to learn more about how you can adopt a horse from Final Furlong, you can visit the program’s website.
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.