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article imageGroup Helps Retired Race Horses Find New Homes in Canada Special

By Lynn Curwin     Jul 16, 2010 in World
Ensuring standardbreds have another life after leaving the track was the aim behind the formation of the Maritime Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association.
Thanks to the efforts of a few volunteers, several former race horses in the Maritime provinces in Canada have gone on to new homes.
A small group of people got together to form the organization, which is now a registered non-profit society, in 2007. They were all people who had experience with standardbreds and wanted to let others know what wonderful pleasure horses they can be.
“We’re not a rescue; we’re a network of people who promote standardbreds and try to connect people who need to find a home for a horse with people who want to get a horse,” said Jackie Moore, MSPHA president.
Moore got a standardbred called Rico (registered name is Charlotte’s Rico) seven years ago. A friend got him as a surprise for her after her saddle horse died.
“I had never planned to have a standardbred,” she recalled. “I thought maybe I would work with him for a while and try to sell him. Now I wouldn’t sell him for a million dollars. He means so much to me.”
Since getting Rico, Moore has discovered how wrong some of the stereotypes connected with standardbreds are.
“They’re very willing and will try to do whatever you ask them to do,” she said. “Most adjust very quickly and they can trot, canter, barrel race, jump, and do dressage and trails, and more.”
Some people do not think of the standardbred as a horse to ride but they are becoming more popular as people familiar with them relate positive experiences. In New Zealand there are often shows where the majority of the horses competing are standardbreds who have retired from the track.
Many standardbreds leave the track at a young age because they are not fast enough or because of an injury. Even those who race up to the retirement age of 15 have still been successfully retrained for new disciplines after leaving the track.
“Through our organization we are able to share tips on retraining standardbreds and share stories,” said Moore. “We encourage people to take part in events such as parades, shows and fairs so that more people can learn about these horses.”
If it were not for the MSPHA some of the horses in need of homes would have gone to the livestock auction in Nova Scotia, where horses are often purchased for slaughter.
The organization does not charge a fee for matching up horses with new owners but a donation to help with the program is always appreciated. The volunteer work can take a lot of time and effort but the best reward for those involved is seeing a happy horse in its new home.
More information can be found on the MSPHA website and on the organization's Facebook group.
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