PILLARS OF RACEHORSE AFTERCARE: HANOVER SHOE FARMS AND OLD FRIENDS

Preakness week is a time of excitement in the world of American horse racing, as leg two of the Triple Crown showcase approaches.  It is also an appropriate time to recognize the out-of-the spotlight organizations that do such humane work with retired racehorses, often saving them from grim fates and finding them new homes and occupations as sport or pleasure horses.  Take a look at two of them that have exemplary records of achievement, one from the world of Standardbred racing and the other from Thoroughbreds.

Hanover Shoe Farms in Hanover, Pennsylvania, is the longtime leader in breeding trotters and pacers, living up to its motto of “the greatest name in harness racing.”  The farm’s stallion portfolio traditionally includes some of the premier studs, its broodmare band is always top flight, and their progeny perennially win some of the biggest races.  What the farm is less known for is the exemplary way it treats its horses that are too old to be productive as breeding stock.  As of February 2022, for example, it had 126 retired mares in its care, and each mare receives lifetime retirement at the farm regardless of whether she earned $300 or $300,000.  Hanover Shoe Farms even lists each of its retired mares on its website. See their names by clicking here.

On the Thoroughbred front, Old Friends farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, is one of many homes for retired racehorses. Old Friends specializes in taking in horses with notable achievements. During Kentucky Derby week 2022, Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post wrote an article about the farm and its 19-year history.  In its early days, its founder Michael Blowen had lots of farm debt and scarce cash contributions to cover it.  He relates the story of how, in this time of need, a couple from North Dakota visited the farm and said they wanted to make a donation but forgot their checkbook.  Blowen said he had heard this before.  Several weeks later, the couple sent Blowen a check…for $500,000. Culpepper’s article can be read by clicking here.

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The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has accredited 82 organizations, listed here.

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