Although horse racing is a multi-billion dollar industry it is astonishing to discover that many racehorses are left with no place to go except the slaughterhouse.
Thousands of Standbred horses in North America have been discarded like trash because of a career ending injury, being deemed too slow for the track (despite being bred for speed) or simply through retirement from the track. Standardbreds are often looked upon as racehorses only – and if one is unfit for the track then many people think it is a waste of horse flesh. This is simply not so.
Standardbred Horse – Versatility
While Standardbreds are generally bred to be harness racing horses they are a versatile animal. They were originally bred for racing in saddle and are essentially a mix of Thoroughbred and Morgan. Many of these ex-racehorses make wonderful saddle horses for different disciplines. Of course they can also still drive – they just can’t race. Don’t forget that these horses have already been taught to stand, tie, clip, bathe, trailer, accept the bit, back, walk and trot. On top of that they are already used to noisy crowds and strange places. It is also often thought that Standardbreds are strictly pacers that are ugly, cheap horses that cannot canter or trot. None of this is true at all. These animals simply need a chance to prove their quality at something other than racing.
As mentioned above some of these ex-racehorses have been injured or have acquired arthritis or some other disease. Racing is hard on an animal and many have joint issues. Some may be unfit to ride or drive yet they make great companion animals. An injury or disease should not necessarily mean a death sentence. Some of these horses are great with children and other horses. They need some TLC and a loving home to retire to for the rest of their days.
Rescue and Adoption of Standardbred Horses
Thank goodness for all the rescue and adoption agencies that are in place. While not all Standardbreds can be saved from someone’s plate you can help the ones that have been. Remember that these organizations are non-profit and donations are always greatly appreciated. Please consider adopting a beautiful Standardbred as a saddle or companion horse. They truly are remarkable animals.
Here, we have assembled some well-respected organizations where you may be lucky enough to find a wonderful Standardbred horse available for adoption or rescue.
Standardbred Horse Adoption Organizations in the US:
For two decades, SRF, based in Hamilton, N.J., has found new homes and new careers for over 2,000 non-competitive race horses. Through rehabilitation and a lifetime adoption commitment, these noble athletes get a second chance, excelling in every riding discipline and benefiting youth programs.
American Standardbred Adoption Program, Inc. was founded in 1994 as a placement service for non-racing Standardbreds. ASAP serves the people and horses within the harness racing industry around the U.S.A., with emphasis on Standardbreds in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and
Minnesota. The American Standardbred Adoption Program also serves as a rescue facility and sanctuary for abandoned, abused, or neglected horses of all breeds, and is listed by the Humane Society of the U.S. as a humane equine rescue organization. Horses of all other breeds are accepted into placement by ASAP, Inc.
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. was founded in Ohio, in 1992, to offer retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and education through placement in experienced, caring homes. Most horses arriving at New Vocations are injured and thin, suffering from the occupational hazards of racing, and facing a one-way ticket to auction. New Vocations matches these horses with qualified individuals and follows up on their rehabilitation and vocational training for placement in permanent, new homes.
The Program also acts as a youth outreach, challenging disadvantaged youth through the equine experience and motivational teachings to set worthy goals.
Standardbred Horse Adoption Organizations in Canada:
The Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society (OSAS) is an approved charitable organization, founded in 1996 to assist in the adoption and relocation of retired and non-racing Standardbred horses within Ontario.
Performance Standardbred is a non-profit organization, based in Calgary, Alberta, dedicated to supporting retired harness racing horses, while they await placement. Established in 1990 by a few Standardbred enthusiasts who realized the animal’s enormous potential as a saddle horse. Jumping, dressage, endurance, and competitive trail – there really is no limit to what Standardbred horses can accomplish!.
by Adrianne Lake