Topping up the retirement fund

The Thoroughbred racing season got off to a great start this year with the announcement of a generous new industry funding initiative to benefit the New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society.

After years of financial angst that sometimes left the New Stride volunteers wondering where the next bale was coming from, the non-profit organization that finds new homes and careers for retired racing horses will have the means to help more horses.

The BC Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association and Hastings Racecourse have created a program to help New Stride that enables race horse owners to direct a portion of their winnings towards the care of retired race horses. 

“It’s a great start to the racing year.  There are many horses looking for new homes, and this may allow us to take more horses into the program,” said Marcy Emery, president of New Stride.

In the past, the group raised around $100,000 a year through racing industry programs, private grants from members of the racing and equestrian communities, and the annual Shedrow Market hosted by Barb Beaton of Fields and Flowers farmgate store in Campbell Valley.  

“Since we are all volunteers, all of that money goes to the care of the horses, most of whom are boarded at Allbury Farms in Abbotsford,” said Marcy.  Some are sent to foster farms to receive specialized training.   So far, around 90 New Stride horses have found new homes.

Horses in the New Stride program are evaluated to assess their temperament and talents, and matched carefully with homes the volunteer riders and trainers deem suitable.  

“We are not selling horses. We are most concerned with finding a good match between horse and rider. 

“ We believe strongly in full disclosure, and tell a prospective owner everything about the horse, including vet history, temperament and training.  These horses are not pasture pets or lawn ornaments, they are athletes looking for a new career.”

A recent addition to the New Stride program is Willie Khetchem, a promising young horse whose career was cut short by a wreck during a race in 2010.  After being clipped by another horse rounding a corner to the finish line, Willie’s rider April Friesen was thrown and badly injured.  Willie was not injured but was too traumatized by the incident to continue racing.

“He’s a neat horse and loves to work.  We’ve started working with him and he’s slowly coming around. He will be happy to have a new job.” 

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