Non-profit finds new homes for retired racehorses
When Glynis Schultz met her horse Cue two years ago, he was only five months removed from a career as a racehorse.
“He just was in a transition phase,” Schultz said. “He had had a job as a racehorse for three years and he was entering the next phase of his life, so he was kind of uncertain and not very confident.”
These days, he doesn’t have those problems anymore. He’s settled into his new career as an “eventer” -- a horse who competes in dressage and jumping events.
“As he’s learned this new job, he’s really become a way more confident, mature horse,” Schultz said. “He’s a really fun horse to ride.”
Part of the reason for Cue’s successful transition is the time he spent with New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society, a non-profit organization that finds new homes for retired racehorses.
New Stride is one of only two organizations in Canada that fosters horses right off the track, training them to take on new jobs and enter new homes.
“They get off the track and all they know is that they need to run,” said New Stride volunteer Mikayla Swirski. “So we give them a few months off just to learn to be a horse and then start from the ground up.”
Some horses, like Cue, go on to compete outside the racetrack, while others simply become recreational horses for individuals or families.
New Stride program coordinator Carmen Kramer told CTV News that racehorses aren’t always a good fit for beginning riders.
“They’re hot-blooded,” she said. “They’re a little higher strung than the average horse, and they’re not for everybody, but there is somebody for each one of them.”
Most of the horses that find new homes through New Stride once competed at Hastings Park, Kramer said. Some of them won prizes in the six-figure range.
Still, their futures would be uncertain if they didn’t end up at New Stride, which houses horses on farms in Abbotsford and in Vancouver’s Southlands neighbourhood. If New Stride didn’t exist, the retired horses might be sold at auction, potentially for slaughter.
New Stride spares horses from that fate, even ones that have a hard time adjusting to their post-racing lives.
“We have horses sometimes that can’t be ridden very much,” Kramer said. “They stay with us until we can find them the appropriate home so they don’t go to slaughter.”
The result is often a second career for horses like Cue, who was the B.C. champion eventer for his division last year.
“I’ve had horses all my life, and he’s one of the most fun just to work with on an everyday basis,” Schultz said. “He improves every day because he really tries to figure out what I’m asking and what his job is.”