Awards to Spotlight Second Careers for Thoroughbreds

They are often ideal candidates for another vocation.

After Thoroughbreds have completed their race careers, they are often ideal candidates for another vocation. To call attention to these horses' second career possibilities, nationally recognized Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital has created a series of annual awards, the first of which will be presented to the top Thoroughbred sport horses of 2009.

Divisional awards, named for legendary Thoroughbred sport horses, will be given to those Thoroughbreds that were the top achievers in 2009 U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) competitions in hunter (Stocking Stuffer Award), jumper (Touch of Class Award), dressage (Keen Award), and eventing (Antigua Award). The USEF is assisting in the award selection process by tabulating the points earned and verifying that the winners are Thoroughbreds. The divisional honors will be awarded at the USEF's annual Silver Stirrup Awards Banquet in January 2011.

An overall winner selected from the category winners will be presented with the Rood & Riddle Thoroughbred Sport Horse Award trophy during the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) National Awards Dinner, Sept. 10, 2010. A perpetual grand prize trophy will also be displayed at Rood & Riddle's Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

"Our goal in creating these awards is to increase awareness of Thoroughbreds' value as sport horses," said Tom Riddle, DVM, a founding partner of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. "While some Thoroughbreds are raised specifically to be sport horses, others are finding greater success in their second careers as sport horses than they did in races. Through this award, we hope to decrease the number of unwanted horses in the U.S. by demonstrating their value in these non-racing disciplines."

The overall winner will be selected by a celebrity committee consisting of four chefs d’equipe (discipline heads) for each discipline: George Morris (show jumping), Mark Phillips (eventing), Patty Heuckeroth (hunters), and Hilda Gurney (dressage), as well as U.S. Olympics equestrian and racehorse trainer Michael Matz.

Matz encourages people interested in starting a Thoroughbred in a second career to be patient. "When a horse has an injury that will stop them from racing, for example," he said, "that doesn't mean that with time they can't come back and be a very good show horse. The most important consideration is that people have to take the time."

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.