We Create Breed Ambassadors
Thoroughbreds such as Bally Cor, Keen, and Touch of Class have enjoyed great success in the Olympic equestrian disciplines, but today many riders favor other breeds. With proper training, Thoroughbreds can be competitive at the top of the show world once again. This success will have a trickle-down effect that will not only increase their value but cause lower level owners to seek trainers with experience with Thoroughbreds. This in turn will make for more success stories and fewer failures. Linda Zang states, “There have been many success stories with Thoroughbreds in the three Olympic Equestrian disciplines, including winning medals. “
Presenting properly trained thoroughbreds to top trainers at clinics and shows is an important element of what we do. The more other riders and trainers hear icons such as George Morris, Joe Fargis, Jim Wofford, and Linda Zang extol the virtues of Thoroughbreds, the more demand and appreciation there will be for retired racehorses. Ultimately, we will see Thoroughbreds competing and winning at the highest levels, in all disciplines. Then many more will find homes after racing.
At this time, providing a proper training foundation for a Thoroughbred is a money-losing proposition. A Warmblood with similar talent and training may sell for twice as much as a Thoroughbred simply due to the existing preference for Warmbloods. As a result, it is common for trainers to take a thoroughbred off the track, provide minimal training, and then sell the horse for a few thousand dollars, hoping to make a quick profit. The next trainer/owner may do the same thing. However, this approach does not give the Thoroughbred the foundation necessary to make him desirable to upper level trainers.
How can we address this? By selecting excellent Thoroughbred candidates and giving them the proper training needed to be attractive to top riders, we can change the tide and the value of the Thoroughbred will increase.
TPR continues to transition retiring racehorses through our Retraining Program. Our graduates have been successful at all levels, including international competition. Each TPR graduate serves as an ambassador for all other retired racehorses and the TPR Retraining Program. TPR looks for retraining candidates that have the potential to become top competitors. We have found that many of the horses the average rider/trainer is having trouble with are the most talented and generous horses, which has led us to the additional goal of helping horses with training issues.
We have already produced Constant Star, winner of the Breeder’s Bridge to High Performance, Houdini, registered name Rocky Times a 4* Eventer, Doctor James, 2* Eventer, Mystical Harbor a National Level Dressage competitor, Wheresmokethrsfire, AA level Jumpers and other notable Ambassadors.
We Provide Help for Horses In Trouble
Today, heightened awareness among racetrack operators and the advent of the “Thoroughbreds for All” movement have made it easier to find homes for retiring racehorses. However, one of the consequences of moving so many retired racehorses into the hands of the public (without the assistance of organizations like TPR) is that more than a few horses have ended up with people who are not qualified to handle and retrain a horse directly off the track. The result is instances of retired racehorses being classified as “bad,” when their behavior problems most likely are caused by poor training or handling. In his book, “The Truth About Horses,” noted equine behaviorist Dr. Andrew McLean cited research showing that of 3,000 non-racing horses sent to slaughter in France between the ages of two and seven years, 66.4% were condemned for “inappropriate behavior.” The fact that these statistics come from countries with well-established equestrian traditions gives no grounds for believing that the figures would be much different elsewhere. At TPR, we are experts in assessing horses, identifying solutions for undesirable behaviors, and providing corrective training. Our work in this area is important because each successful outcome provides further proof that retired racehorses are willing partners suitable for many levels of riding ability.
In addition to horses with training issues, there are horses who leave racing with problems that can be successfully addressed through surgery or rest and rehabilitation. These horses are difficult to place not only due to the cost of rehabilitation, but also the lack of skills needed to correctly rest and rehabilitate a horse. In many cases, proper rest and rehabilitation results in an excellent prognosis and a sound horse ready for adoption.
TPR has the specialized skills to address these two high-risk categories of horses. Leighton Farm, the home base of TPR, was designed for active racehorses to rest and rehabilitate. Kimberly Godwin Clark, TPR’s head trainer, is a professional exercise rider, owner and trainer with over 25 years’ experience. She has significant experience in lay-ups, post-surgical care, and rehabilitation. She supplements her own knowledge and experience with input from top show trainers. In the past, TPR has successfully held GoFundMe campaigns for horses in need of surgery and rehabilitation, with each raising an average of $3,000. This new form of fundraiser is helping TPR to support the higher cost of taking in, rehabilitating and finally rehoming horses with training or soundness issues.
We Educate those who have or wish to have a retired racer.
Kimberly Godwin Clark, the founder of TPR, wrote the book “New Track, New Life: A Guide to Understanding and Re-Training Your Off-Track Thoroughbred” to promote correct training methods. It offers insight into the life of a racehorse and how to properly handle and retrain them. In 2016, it was published on Amazon in both print and electronic (Kindle) formats. Godwin Clark is currently working on a second book that focuses on training horses and addressing problems.
Additionally, TPR and Godwin Clark holds a clinic series at Leighton Farm to teach horsemen how to better understand and train retired Thoroughbred racehorses using hands-on methods.