- Published: Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:39
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 50% of it’s available funds to this program.
“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. The 2014 grant process will be made available soon.
Interim TAA director Mike Ziegler, who is also the executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, is thrilled that all of the MTHA funds go directly to accredited organizations within Maryland and the monetary amount will be increased through contributions from other sources in the national program.
“Maryland is the first state doing what it’s doing,” Ziegler said. “It’s an exciting partnership between them and us. It’s a lot of work to ensure funds are properly taken care of and go to deserving organizations and that’s what we do. Plus, they will get more back than they put in because of the total amount that is going into the program.”
Ziegler said the TAA will distribute $1 million dollars to programs around the country this year and he expects that total to rise in the future.
James Hastie, who has been hired as the new TAA executive director and is in the process of assuming his duties from Ziegler, said he is thrilled to have the 20 new programs on board.
“Each of these facilities has undergone a rigorous process to ensure that they are providing a uniform level of care for our retired Thoroughbreds,” Hastie said in a statement. “We’re excited to support the great work they are doing.”
Besides Maryland, the TAA also is working with Florida and California. Those two states are raising funds for the Alliance; and Kentucky and New York are about to begin similar programs. The TAA also is supported by funds from 20 stallion farms, The Jockey Club, Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, Barretts in California and OBS in Florida.
In Maryland, the MTHA’s thoroughbred retirement program is funded through a voluntary donation of $6 per starter that most horsemen participate in.
The remaining 50 percent of the MTHA’s Retirement Program funds will be distributed by the MTHA Board to local farms that do not participate in the TAA program, and programs such as the All Thoroughbred Horse Show.
“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.”
Over $30,000 has been collected since the program began April 1. In addition, the Maryland Jockey Club has agreed to match the dollars that the MTHA contributes to retired horses.