The wonder of the Thoroughbred racehorse, and the quality that draws us to them, is their genetic need to run as far and as fast as they can. Added to the traditional training they receive, the effort they put out in any race surpasses the heights achieved by human athletes during Championship encounters in basketball, football or even marathon racing. Like all great athletes, they are prone to injury - in fact, especially prone: when they are competing, over 1,000 pounds of muscle and bone land jarringly on spindly front legs 120 times every quarter of a mile. They tell us about their injuries by the manner in which they eat, walk, canter and respond to human handling.
So the vigilant owner must be a consistent monitor of the horse's condition. Once the physical signs of deterioration begin to show up, decisive action must be taken. It is far better to retire a horse while he is sound and capable of thriving in a second career than to risk furthering an injury on the track. The question the owner must face when, sadly, the horse's race career has concluded is, what do we do?
For those who own farms as well as Thoroughbreds, the question of maintaining a retired horse is the decision to provide food and pasture. A large majority of owners do not have that luxury available. Given a life expectancy of 15 to 20 more years (after its racing career), a retired horse becomes a major non-returnable investment.
It's hard to pull your heart away from a horse you own. They do become something more than an investment, no matter how tough-minded you are. But there is an investment you can make that insures a workable future for horses who can no longer race and cannot or should not be consigned for breeding. TOBA's charitable arm, Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), supports many aftercare organizations each year. Please refer to this page for a list of TCA supported aftercare organizations. Please contact an adoption organization to ensure your racehorse has a good home and will have the opportunity to enter into a second career as an eventer, jumper, dressage horse, pleasure horse or much more.