By Tayloe Clements
The story behind Kara Colvin's off-the-track Thoroughbred, Jake, inspired her to document through film other aftercare successes. She hopes her project, called "Back on Track," which she is still shooting, will motivate others and create more opportunities for second careers among ex-racehorses.
Jake is a 21-year-old gelding that Colvin adopted from her trainer when she was 13. His easy transition into the world of dressage and eventing opened her eyes to the broad potential of Thoroughbreds beyond the track. Now she wants to spread the word.
Colvin began developing the concept for "Back on Track" during a documentary class at Savannah College of Art and Design. She produced a 12-minute short film that focused on Lisa Molloy at New Vocations, Three Chimneys Farm's "Take Care of Our Own" policy, trainer Graham Motion and Herringswell Stables, and Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day. This short film went on to win the Robert O. Levitt Ocean Silver Award at National Geographic's Gray's Reef 2013 Ocean Film Festival, and convinced Colvins to expand her project into a full-length documentary.
Since 2011 Colvin and a crew of 17 have been traveling around the United States visiting organizations dedicated to Thoroughbred aftercare. In groups of five, they have been gathering stories in Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, New York, and the Carolinas from Thoroughbred owners, people who run off-the-track Thoroughbred rescue facilities and rehabilitation programs, and those involved in the retraining of ex-racehorses. The groups communicated regularly with each other to coordinate their work while filming.
Colvin was in Lexington in early June conducting interviews with Diana Baker, The Equine Humane Center, Tony Chamblin, Anna Ford at New Vocations in Canter, Ky., as well as the Lexington-based Thoroughbred Charities of America, which is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
"You know for me, my knowledge of racing was very small, so by traveling and visiting all these people it's just been a road of knowledge," Colvin said. "Meeting all these people has been a life-changing experience."
She hopes by promoting the efforts to rehabilitate, retrain, and adopt retired off-the-track Thoroughbreds that people will become more educated about the valuable service aftercare facilities provide and then support them. The documentary, which Colvin describes as "pro-horse racing," does address major issues such as doping, slaughter, over-breeding, and unwanted retired racehorses, but with the intent of identifying solutions and growing the quality of the sport overall.
" 'Back on Track's goal is to really support off-the-track Thoroughbreds and responsible horse ownership and aftercare, as well as addressing the problems in the industry in an appropriate way," Colvin said. "We are really aiming to show the world that racing is not bad, these horses love to run, the people that are behind them love these horses, and aftercare has made huge improvements in the last five years."
Currently in Pennsylvania and planning their last stop in Washington, D.C., Colvin is planning to finish the filming for "Back on Track" during the next two months.
For more information and to follow Colvin and her crew visit the documentary's website.