by Sheri Duff
AFTER the Track, a specialized re-training and placement facility for Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) racehorses no longer competitive at the track, makes its home on the 28-acre Lakota-Way Farm in Hinesburg.
Established by resident Ginny Iverson, Assuring Futures for Thoroughbred Ex Racehorses (AFTER) the Track began in 2006. As a horse trainer with over 40 years of experience, her niche was starting young horses and retraining problem horses. “As an event rider, I had several Thoroughbreds (TBs), and along the way became aware of the intense need for OTTBs to find new careers when their racing days were over. I acquired my first racehorse in 2007 and purchased another the following year. That’s when I began to put my Holistic Retraining Program into place. Helping those unwanted horses became my mission, and TBs at the racetrack provided the perfect opportunity to put my skills and passion to use.”
Approximately 30,000 TBs are born annually but very few of these horses become stars during their careers and even fewer retire to live lives’ of luxury. According to AFTER the Track’s website, most racehorse owners do their best to find a new home, retirement facility, or adoption program for their TBs when their careers end; however, the USDA estimates that 10,000-15,000 TBs are shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico each year.
AFTER the Track prepares and then offers safe, healthy, well-trained TBs for adoption to individuals seeking equine partners for show, event, dressage, trail, and pleasure riding. Unfortunately retraining an OTTB takes time. “Racehorses are trained and cared for differently than sport and pleasure horses, and they deserve the time they need to reformat their bodies and minds,” shared Iverson. “The hallmark of AFTER the Track is the time we take to be sure each horse is ready for adoption.”
Currently, eight ex-racehorses reside at the farm. A few, like Wild Pioneer, great grandson of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, are now available for adoption. Adoption fees vary and are partially tax deductible.
The organization has four success stories to its credit. CVU junior rider Skylar Langford adopted Bling in September 2013. Now successful eventing partners, Langford’s goal for next season is to complete a novice three-day event. The resident jockey, Langford, exercises and assists with the training of the OTTBs in AFTER the Track’s Holistic Retraining Program.
The public nonprofit also provides educational internships for academic credit to high school and college students in horsemanship, farm management, and business innovations, and currently has formal partnerships with Champlain Valley Union High School and the University of Vermont.
Interested in learning more about AFTER the Track? Mark your calendar for the Open House on Saturday, June 13 from 11am to 3pm. Stop by to meet the horses, tour the facility, see the Thoroughbreds in action, and enjoy fun activities for the entire family. Musical entertainment will be provided by special guest Jamie Lee Thurston while a silent auction, horse rides, a used tack sale, an open barn and demonstrations will take place throughout the event.
“I was able to build my dream here in Hinesburg,” said Iverson of her good fortune. “I am honored to be the founder of AFTER the Track.”
Please visit www.afterthetrack.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 355-5449 for more information about AFTER the Track.