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.
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.
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 http://www.trfinc.org/adopt-a-horse/ for details.
Visit http://www.jamesriverhorses.com/ and be sure to watch the video clip.