Awesome Honey, a former New Stride horse who was adopted out in January of 2015. (Photos courtesy of New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society.)
New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society is the perfect example of a program started by people around the track who want a good home for racehorses after they are retired from racing.
Located in British Columbia, Canada, a group of horsemen at Hastings Racecourse came together to create the program in 2002.
“The program was started in 2002 by a number of backstretch workers, trainers owners, and basically people who are around the track who really wanted to make sure there was a program where the horses that are racing … have another place to go and that there’s something to do and an organization that can retrain them and rehome them for another job,” said Carmen Kramer, New Stride’s program coordinator.
STEPMOTHER'S BOY HAS RECENTLY JOINED THE NEW STRIDE PROGRAM
When a horse is first entered into New Stride’s program, it is transported to the program’s farm. The first thing New Stride does is look at the horse’s past veterinary records to see if the horse can be a competition horse or if it needs an easier lifestyle due to injuries. After the horse settles into the farm lifestyle, New Stride workers get to know what it may be best suited for. Some horses go through the process of settling into the farm life and letting the people at New Stride know what it wants to do in its new career within a few weeks while others can take months to relax into the quieter lifestyle away from the track.
New Stride’s main goal is to find its horses permanent homes and all potential adopters have to come to the facility and work with the horse they are looking at adopting to make sure the match is right for both the horse and the potential new owner. More than 130 horses have been adopted through the program after going through this process, with the adoption application process taking anywhere from a few days to a month.
The program has adopted out its horses to Alberta and other areas outside of British Columbia, making arrangements if someone from outside the province wants to adopt a horse. The only requirement is that the potential adopter comes and spends time with the horse so New Stride can make sure the partnership is a good fit.
“Once they contact me and we connect and we have a few meetings they work with the horse and they ride the horse. Basically their next step is for us to look at where they want to board the horse and then just kind of look at their background,” Kramer said. “We get some reference checks, so it can take anywhere from three to five days to almost a month depending on how long it takes to get all of the information and getting the rides together.”
If the application is approved, the adopter must agree to a contract that includes New Stride keeping the horse’s papers for a year. During the time period, New Stride goes out to make sure the horse is healthy, and the new owner cannot sell the horse. After that first year, the new owner gets the horse’s registration papers but still must contact New Stride if they need to sell or rehome the horse for any reason.
GUILDED IN SILVER, SHOWN AS ON CUE, WAS ADOPTED THREE YEARS AGO
The program also makes sure that adopters are aware that they are not allowed to breed the mares it adopts out and makes sure that any male in the program is a gelding.
Kramer has had to clear up a few misconceptions that potential adopters who approach the program have, which are surprisingly very different from each other. The first misconception is that the horses in the program are good mounts for young children. She has found that since people hear the horses are retired they assume the horses are older, which leads to the belief that they are calmer.
The other misconception isn’t from the actual adopters but from the people the adopters ride with.
“We’ve had a number of horses adopted where the owners have used them for trail and recreational purposes. They report back to us how wonderful [the horses] are and how they are loving it and adapting to it, and how other people feel or think ‘oh here comes the Thoroughbred. It’s going to be high strung and it’s going to cause trouble in our nice little trail group’ and it’s completely the opposite.
“In fact, because of the Thoroughbred’s stamina, I had one lady this fall come back and say on one of the lengthy trail rides they did everybody was so impressed with this mare. She not only showed the stamina and kept going when other horses weren’t able to, she was super calm and cool headed and dealt with everything that came up,” said Kramer.
REGAL SPICE FOUND A NEW HOME IN DECEMBER OF 2014
While most horses who come into New Stride are adopted out, the program has one permanent resident named How Bout Jose. Ridden by Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez, “Jose” raced until an injury forced his retirement when he was 10. A fan favorite in British Columbia, Jose won 12 of his 33 races for over $229,000 in earnings. Gelded after arriving at New Stride, Jose is the program’s ambassador and the first horse volunteers handle when they enter the program. The alpha horse in his pasture group, Jose is enjoying life to the fullest.
“His owners and trainers and the people around him wanted to make sure that he would have a good life and he is actually living at our main foster farm, which is about a 48 acre farm with huge fields,” Kramer said. “He’s kind of the head honcho of his gelding group. He’s loving his permanent retirement, he has volunteers that take him out and groom him; he can be ridden a little bit. He’s just such a gentleman – he’s wonderful.”
HOW BOUT JOSE IN RETIREMENT
Recently, New Stride was given a major boost toward their goal of helping horses when the program was accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) in December of 2013. The program was one of 20 programs accredited in the second round of accreditations by TAA and New Stride has found another perk of being TAA accredited outside of the funding the program receives.
“[TAA accreditation] means that the general public can have the sense that we are doing our part in a very professional manner,” said Kramer. “There are a lot of rules and regulations and guidelines that we have had to go through to get this aftercare and it’s of course very helpful to have that funding from them.”
ALONG THE WAY IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION AT NEW STRIDE
Fans who want to help out New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society can donate supplies, time and money. Even those who may not want to handle horses have a place at New Stride if they want to volunteer as there are many fundraising events throughout the year for the program.
For more information about New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society, you can visit the program’s website here.