Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation seems overcome by horse crisis; failing farms, animals

"One of the largest private organizations in the world dedicated to caring for former racehorses has been so slow or delinquent in paying for the upkeep of the more than 1,000 horses under its care that scores have wound up starved and neglected, some fatally, according to interviews and inspection reports," Joe Drape reports for The New York Times.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation "has received millions in donations from some pillars of the industry," writes Drape, the newspaper's top Thoroughbred writer. "But over the past two years, according to the foundation’s financial disclosure documents, it has been operating at a deficit, and as a result has not reliably been paying the 25 farms it contracts with to oversee the retired horses." When Oklahoma farm owner Gayle England, below, complained about TRF's chronic slow pay and apparent lack of regard for the farms and the animals, 26 horses were taken from her. She has since received others. (NYT photo by Brandi Simons)
This month in Kentucky, inspectors found that 34 horses at a farm that is supposed to get funds from the foundation were in “poor” or “emaciated” condition, and one "had to be euthanized because of malnutrition," Drape reports. Stacey Huntington, the Missouri veterinarian in charge of inspections, "found that the foundation’s education of the caretakers and oversight of their farms had been poor," Drape writes. "At one farm, Dr. Huntington said, the horses were being fed cattle feed that contained a toxic element." The inspections are being conducted at the behest of the estate of financier Paul Mellon, which has put $7 million into the foundation's endowment.

The foundation's president, George Grayson, told Drape that it has been pinched by circumstances: “We have dug ourselves a big hole financially, and we’re still behind. ... It’s been a struggle to keep up with the costs associated with a large and aging horse population, at a time when the economy and giving is down.” (Read more) "Days after the article appeared, the TRF ended its association with Huntington," reports Glenye Cain Oakford of the Daily Racing Form, which offers many more numbers and details. (Read more)

1 comment:

Crabtree's Equine Experience said...

I am a former race horse trainer and have tried to do my part in rescue,retraining and rehoming off track thoroughbreds. There lies a problem within the stigma that is associated with ex-race horses. They are a breed that stands alone and requires much more in terms of understanding and patience to retrain these horses and make them useful for other careers. I am a firm believer that lack of education and knowlege devestates the chances for these horse to become more desireable. If you do not have experience I urge anyone wanting to retrain to get an understanding and dont be afraid to ask questions and get a foundation. I see all too often inexperienced individuals wanting to experience the thoroughbred and they have less than a clue and it turns out to be a disaster. There are special considerations to be considered and educating yourself before you leap in to retraining a thoroughbred will make the process much more appealing and maybe we can start getting more of the useable horses into new homes.