Visit Horse Country: Secretariat Center Retrains Racehorses for New Careers

The Life
Ole Doc pictured with MMSC Executive Director Susanna Thomas and TRF Herd Coordinator Sara Davenport. (Courtesy of Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center)

Located in the Kentucky Horse Park, the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center is one of the country’s leading reschooling and adoption facilities for retired racehorses. The staff at the Secretariat Center is renowned for their expertise in teaching equine athletes new skill sets in areas such as dressage, jumping, and trail riding, making them ambassadors in their second careers that showcase the ability of the Thoroughbred breed.

The Secretariat Center opened in 2004 at the Kentucky Horse Park with initial support from several leading organizations and individuals in the Thoroughbred industry. The center houses anywhere from 10 to 20 horses at any given time, spread out through 20 acres of paddocks, a 10-stall barn, a round pen, an outdoor arena, and a cross-country course.

Dressage and cross-country schooling. (Courtesy of Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center)

Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center Executive Director Susanna Thomas created a training program for horses at the facility designed to address any specific condition they may have when they arrive and then ascertain each horse’s personality and temperament in order to find the best second career path for them. The facility’s Horse Centered Reschooling Program is exactly what its name implies, a horse-centered, holistic approach to aftercare, and its success can be measured in the number of successful adoptions graduates of the program receive.

A vital program offered at the Secretariat Center is the Clean Start Program. It is a “let down and layup” program designed to give newly retired racehorses a break and allow them to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally from their time spent competing on the racetrack. The Clean Start program covers costs associated with giving horses time to unwind before training starts in the Horse Centered Reschooling Program.

Persons interested in adopting a retired racehorse must first fill out an application, and after going through that process, prospective owners must meet with the horse to see if the two make a good match. Horses that finish the Secretariat Center’s custom reschooling program and are adopted can still receive post-adoption training via a custom course offered by the center.

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