The first national symposium dedicated to building a bridge to second careers for former racehorses will be held Oct. 5-6 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.
Called the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, the event will include demonstrations of Thoroughbreds performing in other disciplines from grand prix show jumping to team penning. The symposium is being organized by the Retired Racehorse Training Project.
Twenty-six trainers from 15 states and Canada in 10 equestrian disciplines will be participating. Each acquired a horse that knew nothing but racing at the start of the summer and chronicled the training process on the RRTP's website at retiredracehorsetraining.org. RRTP founder and Maryland-based sport horse trainer Steuart Pittman said he has been amazed at the enthusiasm and support the event has generated.
"Thirty-eight vendors and nearly that many sponsors evenly split between the racing and the equestrian worlds have come together to show the public what these horses can do," Pittman said. "We are overwhelmed by the response."
The afternoon sessions on the homestretch of the Pimlico track include demonstrations sponsored by the U.S. Polo Association, the U.S. Pony Clubs, the Masters of Foxhounds Association, and the United States Eventing Association. Hillary Simpson will appear on grand prix show jumping winner Arkansas, who raced as Blackcuda, and the top finishers in this year's Extreme Retired Racehorse 100-Day Barrel Racing Challenge will gather for a re-match.
Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron will show participants how to ride like a jockey. Cyclone Larry, who played Secretariat in the Disney movie about the 1973 Triple Crown winner, will not only appear with his decorated junior rider but Secretariat's Penny Chenery will appear on the track video board via Skype to greet him and reminisce about her days riding Thoroughbreds as a child.
The Oct. 5 itinerary features an event called "Who Let The Cows Out," where Thoroughbred ex-racehorses from Dale Simanton's Gate to Great training program in South Dakota will take jockeys in their silks and cowboy hats into a pen of cattle for a boys-against-girls team sorting challenge.
Morning sessions in the Triple Crown Room on both days are more focused on education with seminars titled Business Models, How to Market Your Thoroughbred, Trainers Forum, Soundness Issues, Health and Care, and an Open Forum for discussion of how to expand the work and better serve the population of horses.
Speakers include Hall of Fame jumper and racehorse trainer Rodney Jenkins, first female jockey and now sales agent Dianne Crump, international eventer Cathy Wieschoff, grand prix show jumper Hilary Simpson, CANTER's Allie Conrad, New Vocations' Amy Allison, Tebogo Sport Horses' Patricia Vos, Thoroughbred Daily News' Sarah Andrew, Back Forty Media and Marketing's Heather Benson, Thoroughbred Charities of America's Dan Rosenberg, Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program's Kristin Werner Leshney, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Adena Springs Retirement Program's Stacie Clark, Spurlock Equine Associates' Dr. Gary Spurlock, Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center's Dr. Janik Gaslorowski, Triple Crown Nutrition's consultant Dr. Bill Vandergrift, Caledonian Forge's Angus Whyte, and Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue's Beverly Strauss.
"Demonstrating the trainability and talent of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses to sport and recreational riders is the key to placing them in second careers," said Rosenberg, board chairman of the TCA, the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. "This event and the organization behind it are making that point decisively, and we are proud to be a part of it."
The weekend's schedule, vendor list, ticket information, and progress reports from the 26 trainers can be viewed at retiredracehorsetraining.org. The event will be live streamed at HRTV.com.