Horse Adoption Referral Program Established

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has created a Racehorse Adoption Referral Program to help with Thoroughbred adoptions and retirements. To be based in the NTRA's Lexington, Ky., office, the program will be coordinated by Heather Brown, formerly with Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas. A non-profit NTRA subsidiary, NTRA Charities, will operate the program, which was spearheaded by owner/breeder John Hettinger, owner of Akindale Farm.

According to the NTRA, the adoption/retirement "clearinghouse" will:

--Develop an information system to facilitate adoptions and retirements of all Thoroughbred racehorses in need;

--Establish a toll-free hotline (877-576-NTRA, to be operational on Aug. 1) to refer owners and interested adopters to local agencies for assistance; and

--Investigate all options for the adoption or retirement of former racehorses and build a database of potential adoptive homes, including riding academies, riding schools for the disabled, police forces and other sites where the horses will receive appropriate care.

The program will also publish and distribute brochures describing "second careers" for former racehorses; maintain a page on the NTRA's Website; and produce a 30-second public service announcement for television. The NTRA will donate television airtime and production services for the PSA.

"Two things have taken place over the last few years that make me believe that this is an idea whose time has come," said Hettinger. "One is the spontaneous formation of adoption organizations all over the country. The other is the creation of NTRA Charities, which now has an equine division that can serve as a national 'umbrella' for the locally based programs. The Racehorse Adoption Program will not compete for funding with existing equine retirement organizations. Its purpose simply is to help existing organizations match potential adopters with horses that are in need of new homes."

Funding for NTRA Charities comes from sources outside the general NTRA operating budget and includes net royalties generated by usage of an NTRA VISA card, developed in conjunction with First USA Bank. With additional funding from private contributions, the program will be overseen by an advisory committee of industry professionals chaired by Hettinger. (More, NTRA)