New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program had 398 retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses go through the program in 2017, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Additionally, 125 horses remained in the program throughout the new-year transition, receiving rehabilitative care or transitional training with hopes of placement in 2018.
New Vocations received 976 applications from individuals interested in adopting a horse. This number remained in line with years past and proves that interest in owning a retired racehorse remains strong. However, the primary challenge facing the program remains the same: How to encourage adopters to consider a horse that has been rehabilitated from an injury, whether it’s a limiting factor in a second career or not.
“New Vocations’ biggest accomplishment in 2017 was getting its Mereworth facility fully up and running, which played a major role in increasing the number of horses adopted. Receiving nearly 1,000 applications was great, but unfortunately it didn’t translate into 1,000 adoptions. The majority of the equestrian world wants the perfect ‘flawless’ horse, and the No. 1 reason a horse comes to us is because of an injury,” Program Director Anna Ford said.
New Vocations has dramatically expanded its rehabilitation efforts over the past five years to accommodate more horses. The average rehabilitation time is 120 days, yet once a horse begins transitional training, it takes an average of only 75 days before that horse finds a home with an approved adopter. The number of horses New Vocations has successfully adopted is proof that the majority of injured racehorses do heal with proper rehabilitation and time. The issue arises when horses are limited in the type of second career they can perform.
For 2018, New Vocations will continue to grow its aftercare efforts through its multiple facilities. The program will also focus on working diligently to refute the stigma associated with many common racing injuries and expanding its educational efforts to help encourage more informed adoptions. In March, New Vocations will announce a strategic incentive geared specifically to change the public’s perception of retired racehorses, their past and what they can accomplish in the future. It’s believed that this push in education, and the creation of additional incentive programs, will benefit not only the New Vocations program, but any organization that relies on educated adopters to home retired racehorses. To learn more about New Vocations’ aftercare efforts please visit newvocations.org