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Wild Hearts Thoroughbred Adoption

"More and more owners and trainers are joining with aftercare organizations and donating their retiring thoroughbreds for rehabilitation, retraining, and placement in adoptive homes. It just leads to better outcomes and it's where the industry is going. It keeps a radar on each horse. Selling just doesn't guarantee that same safety net for these horses and they deserve that. I want that peace of mind too."

-Anonymous trainer

Can I donate only horses with limitations (while selling those without limitations), OR, submit pasture sound only?

Unfortunately, no. We create relationships with the trainers and owners we work with, and aftercare is a program/service that only works with a mixture of both (we look at it like 'an industry creating sustainability').

We continue to work with trainers/owners who place BOTH types of horses with us (those requiring rehabilitation AND those with zero limitations). 

While all adoption fees are far below market value, the highly limited horses are even further below that (ranging between $1,000-$1,500). The limited horses cost, on average, upwards of $3,000 for their longer stays, veterinary care and further diagnostics, feed, farrier, teeth, vaccinations, etc. We do not require a donation to submit a horse, but there simply isn't adequate funding to operate and provide the service without also taking in horses that are more easily transitioned. 

 

Second, and as an advocate for the future success of racing, we feel it is important to keep a mix, and show case the 'happily ever afters' of those retiring sound as well. Thoroughbred aftercare organizations full of pasture sound and highly limited horses paints a picture we feel feeds into an ever spotlighted negative narrative of 'broken horses'. To change this we must be able to SHOWCASE this in our aftercare organizations!

 

While sanctuary is part of our longer term goal, and desperately needed, the costs to fund it are astronomical. We all have this idea that experienced homes seeking pasture pets are in abundance, and over the last few years we have learned the dire truth, having had only TWO people seeking such horses (out of hundreds of applications). For this reason, 'pasture sound only' are assumed to be 'lifers', unlikely to be adopted and requiring sanctuary. 

Adoption VS Selling; Why Aftercare?

There are many sales agents and listing services available for trainers/owners to quickly offload a horse. Sales directly off the track entails pictures being taken, a post being done, and a sale. While this may be initially easier, it is often not in the best interest of the horse and doesn't constitute, nor is recognized as, true aftercare.

 

Aftercare requires time. It entails standard AAEP protocols for transitioning a racehorse (including diet, environment, handling, levelled re-entry into work, etc.). It includes further veterinary assessment, identifying any potential concerns or limitations, providing any required rehabilitation ahead of basic retraining on the ground and under saddle to increase the workability/future prospects for each horse.

The reality is most people cannot handle an immediately off the track thoroughbred without any transitionary period and this is to the detriment of the horse. As mishandling or premature work begins, physical and behavioral issues arise, the horse is passed on, and so begins the pipeline towards few positive outcomes remaining. 

 

Horses placed into aftercare also receive the benefit of an adoption versus a sale. There are no timelines or sales price pushes as all care is funded through aftercare grants and donations. Many applications are declined as there are high set minimum standards and adopters must go through an in-depth vetting process that verifies their experience, reference checks are carried out, facility and care requirements are met, and ongoing follow-up is done. There are also limitations on further breeding, and stipulations as to what can and cannot be done with each horse.

 

Listing services/sales agents don't provide any sort of aftercare. Based on time and money, it wouldn't be possible for agents to thoroughly vet references, do home checks, qualify new owners, provide ongoing follow-up, ensure horse is re-vetted/assessed to ensure he/she isn't put into a second career that isn't in their best interest/within their physical capacity. There is no "aftercare" provided. Photos are taken, posted, and a transaction is completed with the human, not the horse, in mind.

 

The lack of aftercare creates an uncertain future for retiring thoroughbreds, with much higher chances of being placed in a home who has "overstated" their experience, or worse, a limitation is missed and the horse is placed in a home with no interest in rehab and the horse begins to be bounced around until all positive outcomes are gone.

 

Horses donated into aftercare stay within the program without time or sales constraints, until such time that an approved, well matched adopter is found. Because this work is carried out by registered charities, there is no incentive to obtain a sales price (adoption fees are far below market value and the mission is funded via donations and aftercare grants), and the horses best interest is front and center.

Submit a horse into the Wild Hearts program

 

Owners and trainers may approach Wild Hearts with a horse(s) they'd like to place into the Wild Hearts adoption program. Horses can be submitted using the "Submit a Horse" button below. Applications are submitted to the Board of Directors and reviewed on a first come first served basis for program suitability. 

 

Eligibility:
 

  • Horses that have been away from the track for more than one year are not eligible.

  • Off-track Thoroughbreds that have been used as broodmares or riding horses are not eligible.

  • Stallions must be gelded.

Interested in finding out more about the program? 

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