The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association became a leader in the effort to care for thoroughbreds when it agreed to work with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance to coordinate activity for retired race horses.
The TAA is designated to accredit aftercare programs and raise and distribute funds among those programs around the country. The MTHA participation with the TAA requires that funds donated by the MTHA are used for horses that have run in Maryland and that the retirement farm also be in Maryland.
The MTHA is contributing a portion of it’s available funds to this program. The remainder is devoted to non-accredited facilties who work with Maryland horsemen. Accredited facilities can apply for funding directly from TAA, while non-accredited aftercare facilities can apply for funding with this application.
“By working with a national organization that has developed standards and criteria for retirement farms, we believe that we can help make sure that our money is used with the best programs available. By only contributing a portion of our funds to the national program we have insured we can still support local programs that may not fit into someone else’s criteria” said Chris Bricker, MTHA’s Board coordinator for the project.
Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue in Chesapeake City and Thoroughbred Placement Resources in Upper Marlboro were among 20 newly accredited programs announced by TAA, bringing the number of accredited programs in the United States and Canada to 23.
In Maryland, the MTHA’s thoroughbred retirement program is funded through a voluntary donation of $6 per starter that most horsemen participate in.
“One of the things we liked about the TAA is they’re looking at all the rescue organizations, making sure they are on the up and up” continued Bricker. “TAA has the expertise to make sure our funds are properly allocated to reputable facilities. The accreditation program is new, so there aren’t a large number of Maryland programs in the TAA yet. We wanted a program that assures us that our money will go to the Maryland organizations that are accredited. The TAA does that. And by keeping some of our money for us to distribute, it gives us capital to support our non-accredited farms and programs while they work on becoming accredited. We felt good about both those aspects.”
Both Bricker and Maryland Jockey Club Racing Secretary Georganne Hale, who brought the TAA to the horsemen’s attention, said there is a great need for aftercare programs in Maryland and all over the country.
“There are lots of folks when they retire horses who don’t have a place to re-home them,” Bricker said. “I don’t live on a farm. I think it’s very necessary to have places for our horses to go to be retrained and have time to adapt to a new profession. And I think the thoroughbred is getting a much better reputation because of these programs.”
Hale continue by saying: “Hopefully, we’re going to get it off the ground here and start helping our horses. We need to take care of our own horses here in Maryland and this new relationship with TAA is a perfect start.”