Home » Taking it all in stride

Taking it all in stride

Second Stride gives Thoroughbreds a second chance

By Nedra Morrell

And, they’re off!

From left, Leslie Pratt, Rachel Meffert and Kim Smith interact with retired racehorse, Where U At, at Moserwood Farms in Prospect, Ky.
From left, Leslie Pratt, Rachel Meffert and Kim Smith interact with retired racehorse, Where U At, at Moserwood Farms in Prospect, Ky.

Most Kentuckians are familiar with the sheer excitement of Thoroughbred horse racing and the thrill of seeing a horse cross the finish line. However, the majority of race enthusiasts may not think about the flipside of winning at the track. What happens to Thoroughbreds that aren’t successful or are injured at the track? Do the horses have other options if racing isn’t their forte?

Thanks to Second Stride in Crestwood, Ky., many Thoroughbreds now receive a second chance in life to find another career in which they can excel.

“All these horses need is retraining to find their niche in life, whether it be dressage, trail riding, barrel racing or polo,” said Kim Smith, Second Stride founder and executive director. “There are so many fantastic options available with lots of loving care and work to retrain them to another purpose in life.”

A former stable manager at the Kentucky Derby Museum, Smith thought long and hard about how to help racehorses in the community after a look into the non-profit racehorse retirement world proved discouraging. She found that the system was loaded with red tape that complicated the process of donating horses.In addition, she discovered many owners wanted to stay involved with the horse’s next endeavors, but didn’t have the contacts to figure out how to haul them to a site and fulfill the many health requirements and paperwork.

“I started Second Stride in 2005 to provide a place for owners to send their Thoroughbred horses to retire from racing with dignity,” Smith said.

Moserwood Farms, with locations in both Prospect and Pleasureville in Henry County, Ky., serve as homes to Second Stride, a non-profit organization, which is made up of an all-female board of directors and dozens of volunteers who are active in other areas of the industry, including owners, partnership managers, handicappers and trainers.

The two farm locations feature retraining facilities and services to rehabilitate horses who need it. While the horses are being retrained, Smith and Melissa Trelfa, an administrator with Second Stride, network for them to ensure a smooth transition into a new, loving home.

Volunteer rider Rachel Meffert exercises Where U At, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding available for adoption.
Volunteer rider Rachel Meffert exercises Where U At, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding available for adoption.

“We place horses to qualified, well-screened resale homes with professional abilities because our experience has shown that these homes provide a better service to the horse by getting them properly schooled in a new discipline,” Smith said. “Even the kindest ex-racehorse can be young and impressionable, so how they are treated and trained over the first year away from the track makes a big difference in how they transition to their next job.”

Before the horses can begin a new chapter in their lives, they need new homes. Smith and Pratt promote the horses with photographs and bios online for potential adopters to view. Those interested can visit Second Stride and even ride their new horse if it is deemed appropriate and safe for both horse and rider. Potential adopters are carefully screened to make sure that the horses are
going to caring and safe homes. Adoption fees range generally range from $250 to $850, although fees are waived for horses requiring more rehabilitation.

Second Stride has placed the prodigy of a number of racing’s royalty, including A.P. Indy, Dynaformer and Flower Alley. One Second Stride alumni, a son of Storm Cat whose dam was a Breeders’ Cup winning mare, showed ability at everything he tried, but quickly lost interest in anything repetitive. Second Stride kept working with the horse – Capote Cat – and successfully placed him with a search-and-rescue operation in North Carolina.

“He’s very happy there because each day brings new and interesting challenges, and his new owner said that Capote is fearless about charging into the roughest terrain,” Smith said.

Owners of horses donated to Second Stride are asked to make a tax-deductible donation of whatever amount they can afford to help pay for the horse’s board, food and other expenses. However, more than 95 percent of donations go to the care of the horse and not administrative costs.

“Melissa has joined our organization as a paid administrator and, and her years of experience training and showing horses, as well as owning a local boarding and show horse farm, has added a great deal of value to our program,” Smith said.

She also credits Dr. Jeff Willard at Jericho Equine LLC with providing pro-bono and discounted medical services for many of Second Stride’s Thoroughbreds.

“We wouldn’t have been able to rehabilitate many of our horses without his generosity and medical expertise,” she said.

Smith works closely with the racing industry including the Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and various handicappers’ associations to raise awareness and money for her organization.

“My goal is to find retired Thoroughbreds a home whenever and wherever I can,” she said.

Check out Second Stride on Facebook or at secondstride.org for all the latest news about adoptable horses, events, horse care tips and how to get involved with the organization.