Retired Racehorse Training Project - (All United States)
Retired Racehorse Training Project
Retired Racehorse Training Project was formed in 2010 by a small group of friends and myself who felt strongly that Thoroughbred ex-racehorses were in need of advocates and educators in the sport and recreation riding world. We had conducted the Retired Racehorse Training Symposium in 2009 and were overwhelmed by the attendance and demand for more, both by nonprofit placement organizations and individuals who work to transition these horses to second careers.
Our first web site was launched at the end of 2011 with the announcement of our popular Trainer Challenge that drew thousands of fans to the Maryland and Pennsylvania Horse World Expos. The following year the 100-Day Thoroughbred Challenge provided a similar online and in-person educational experience, with the involvement of four top Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred farms.
The organization’s 2011 presentation at Keeneland to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s (NTRA) Professional Education Seminar titled Expanding The Market for Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses was the call to action that set forth RRP’s long-term plan. It described the devaluation of the off-track Thoroughbred and reasons for its loss of market share to other breeds in the riding sports. It established the need for RRP.
The 2013 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico was the organization's first national gathering of the farms, organizations, and individuals that transition these horses to second careers. Twenty-six trainers in ten riding disciplines chronicled their work online over four months with horses who knew nothing but racing at the start. The weekend included seminars, demonstrations, and a sponsor fair. It was widely hailed as a landmark event experienced by 800 in person, thousands online, and an estimated four million through mainstream media in the local market. Thoroughbred Charities of America awarded RRP its Industry Service Award in recognition for the success of this event.
In January of 2014 RRP published Exploring the Bridges to Second Careers for Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, a survey describing how 4,200 Thoroughbreds transitioned from racing to riding. The results clearly demonstrated the failures and the potential of market forces to serve these horses while also making the case for subsidized charitable facilities to assist where the marketplace fails. The report was covered in most of the horse industry’s major publications.
The RRP Board of Directors made a major commitment to growth in 2014, made possible primarily due to seed money from our vice-president Carolyn Karlson. Carolyn is a racing owner and a professor of entrepreneurship who describes RRP’s work as an effort to spawn small businesses that transition these horses to second careers. This vision led to the creation of the Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, and an expanded Thoroughbred Makeover that provides trainers an opportunity to prove their talent and promote their work.
The 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America at Kentucky Horse Park, was an overwhelming success featuring $100,000 in prize money for nearly 200 horses that competed in ten disciplines after less than ten months of training. The 2016 Makeover will follow a similar format but also include more educational demonstrations and more time for horse shoppers to evaluate those entries that are for sale.
RRP became a membership organization during 2015. While generous donors from both inside and outside the racing industry have launched the organization, its future depends on the willingness of Thoroughbred owners and fans to pay a $45 annual membership that comes with a subscription to Off-Track Thoroughbred magazine and various discounts and benefits.
The work is paying off. The army of good people providing these horses with the educations they need after racing is growing, and the value of an off-track Thoroughbred is rising. The 2 million horse owners in America are learning about the trainability and talent of these horses, and the 150,000 OTTB owners now have a vehicle through which they can promote what they love.
To support RRP in its work as a sponsor, donor, or volunteer, click here.