Funding Now Available For Non-Accredited Aftercare Facilities From MTHA

Horse-field-grass-silhouette-foodThe Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) Board of Directors has approved the application process for grants for non-Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) programs in the state.

The applications are available for download here.

“We realize there are farms in the area that are not [sanctioned by] TAA yet,” said Chris Bricker, MTHA board member and coordinator for the project. “To be sanctioned by TAA, programs have to have the 501 (c) tax designation for three years. We have a number of farms that don’t qualify yet, but they are farms that are doing good work. “Our goal is to get all our farms accredited by the TAA program. We like TAA because they do the accreditation. But we want to support our local programs that are not presently qualified.”

Bricker said a deadline has been set for October 1.

Last fall the MTHA became a leader in the effort to care for retired thoroughbreds when its board voted to work with the TAA program that was in just its second year. Maryland donates 50 percent of the funds its members raised for aftercare to TAA, while keeping the other 50 percent for Maryland farms that don’t meet the TAA criteria. The unique thing about the TAA-Maryland agreement is Maryland monies donated to the TAA are to be earmarked specifically for horses who have run in Maryland and the retirement farms receiving the Maryland money must also be in Maryland.

TAA executive director James Hastie, complimented Maryland on its decision to hold money back for non-sanctioned facilities in the state. “I think it was a pretty wise decision to keep some funding to support its own organizations, which have not yet gone through our accreditation process,” Hastie said. “We only offer our grants to our accredited members.”

He also said the Maryland agreement, put together by his predecessor, Mike Ziegler, may well remain unique in the Alliance. “Already Maryland’s sanctioned farms have received two to three times more money than the $23,000 Maryland contributed.”

In the past two years, the TAA has distributed grants totaling $2-million to its accredited programs, of which Maryland has two – Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue in Chesapeake City and Thoroughbred Placement Resources in Upper Marlboro.

Beverly Strauss, who runs the Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue farm, said she received a surprise visit from Hastie recently when he visited the state. When a farm applies to become a member of TAA, it has to agree to surprise review visits from the Alliance.

“I’d definitely recommend joining TAA,” Strauss said. “It adds a sense of legitimacy and those who donate to our farm have a greater sense of security, knowing their money is going to a business that has been vetted. There are people out there running scams and you want to see money donated to help horses do good, not just be thrown away. I do think [TAA] is a great thing.”

Strauss said that while thoroughbred aftercare is a pressing issue, “You have to be methodical and follow the path that makes sure businesses are reputable for the horses and the donors. We’re thrilled Maryland has stepped up to partner with TAA. It’s already been a huge benefit to me and I’m proud that my state is doing something. Maryland could be such a shining example for the industry across the country – and it should be given its [horse racing] history.”

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