Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Greener pastures, where men and horses save each other

The barn is home to Greener Pastures

The beautiful horses you see running on the south side of Rt. 6 just west of Crozier are retired thoroughbreds—who chased each other around race tracks in former lives. Thanks to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) these horses are enjoying retirement saved from a trip to what used to be called “the glue factory”.

If you look a little closer, you’ll notice that the fence that keeps the horses out of the road is the same fence that surrounds the James River Work Center, part of the Virginia Department of Corrections, a prison.

The Second Chances program of the James River chapter of the TRF provides a place for retired race horses to live happily ever after, be it in a new a forever home, or at JRTRF and gives offenders the opportunity to learn new skills—including equine care; anatomy, physiology; farm management; and personal discipline—so they can be productive citizens when their sentence is completed. Some become certified in the nationally acclaimed “Groom Elite” program. Participants must apply to join the program and complete an interview process.
Offenders learn useful equine care skills.

On September 18, the JRTRF held an open barn to celebrate the program. Visitors saw happy, well cared for horses and their caregivers enjoying each other’s company. One offender declared that he has “the best job in DOC” while explaining his duties to open barn visitors. He is learning farrier skills and hopes to pursue that line of work after release. The approximately 30 horses in the program are rotated into the barn for grooming and other care on a regular basis. The rest of the time, they roam free on the property.

The horses in the barn included Covert Action, grandson of Virginia’s own triple crown winner Secretariat. Each equine put on a “cute horse act” in hopes of getting treats. They were all quite successful.
Give a horse a treat

Secretariat's grandson, Covert Action

Horses may be adopted for performance work; pleasure riding; or pasture mates to act as companions for other horses. As adopted horses leave the JRTRF, new spots for retirees open up. Visit for details.
Visit and be sure to watch the video clip.

1 comment:

swsackett said...

I have had the great, and good fortune to have a volunteer position with TRF for a number of years. As the inmates rotate through the program I am truly fascinated by the transformation in the men as they begin and end their "tour" of learning, instructing and generally caring for their "charges" (horse). The genuine attachment that develops between the two is beautiful to see. So much happens in the space of weeks to solidify feelings of self worth, feelings lying beneath the surface waiting to be released.
Having held the position of Legislative Aide to then Lt. Gov. John Hagar I staffed the Faith Based Committee which dealt with "recidivison in the prison system. This program with the Thorobred Retirement Foundation is such a worthwhile example in supporting new beginnings and giving these men a true opportunity to leave their incarceration for a useful life. We need more.
Oh, and another important piece of information: I am in charge of the Southern States Proof of Purchase program. In a nutshell ~ If you are fortunate to have horses and feed So. States grain cut out the Proof Of Purchase "stamp" and save. Each of these are worth 25 cents. Really adds up quickly and winter is coming on. We have bought a lot of hay since beginning the program and and many thanks to the horse owners and Southern States for their support.
You may mail or bring the stamps to P.O.Box 112, Crozier, Va 23039, my attention
Sherwood (Sherry) Sackett - e-mail below.