Tuesday, May 5, 2009
A New Finish Line
The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation helps ex-racing horses.
Yesterday I wrote about an unlikely Kentucky Derby winner. The story reminded me of one of the not-so-pretty sides of horse racing that involves the disposal at auction of horses who are no longer profitable due to age, injuries, and/or who are not considered to be viable candidates for breeding.
The typical fate of the animals auctioned is either the rendering plant or slaughter for use as food. But thankfully there are a number of non-profit organizations that have evolved through the years to care for and re-home the animals.
About a week ago I read an article on Lanny Brooks, who, along with his wife, works to place retired racers into new homes. He wants to take the process a step further.
Brooks would like to start a program in Illinois where rescued racing horses go to prison. But not for incarceration.
He's proposing an innovative program where inmates would learn to groom and train the animals. It would not only help horses, but also would provide new job skills to prisoners, making them more employable upon release.
Similar programs have been successful in 8 other states.
So far, things look promising. The Illinois Department of Corrections is interested because the program appears to have minimal budgetary impact. All costs would be funded by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Illinois Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association. The measure authorizing the program has been introduced in the Illinois House. I haven't heard of any major opposition.
I love the idea. It's the perfect way to help both horses and people who need a leg up.