The Program: Aftercare at EQCon
An important cause for the Equestricon team is racehorse aftercare so it’s no surprise that the first running of the convention announced early on that the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) is its official charity partner. To drive home its dedication to aftercare even farther, Equestricon also has two panels focused on the subject.
One such panel helps kick off Monday, Aug. 14’s events at 10:00 a.m. when five well-known aftercare advocates talk about off-track Thoroughbred success stories in a "Stories: OTTB Successes Presented by the TAA."
Anita Motion, an active member of the Equestricon Advisory Board and one of the panelists in this discussion, has played a big role in finding racehorses second careers when their racing days are over. Perhaps the most well-known of the horses she’s helped find a successful second career is stakes winner Icabad Crane, who has competed with Olympian Phillip Dutton and his team in eventing over the past few years.
Motion hopes that a panel highlighting the successes retired racehorses have had in second careers encourages more riders to share their stories while also giving racing horsemen more ideas for their horses.
“The OTTB Successes panel is important to Equestricon because they are success stories. Hopefully it encourages more people to share their stories,” she said. “Recently more attention has been paid to what happens to Thoroughbreds when they retire from racing. Also the attention it is receiving makes people more morally accountable for how they treat horses they have profited from.”
Lisa Molloy, director of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and another of the panelists, admits that aftercare may not be of interest to everyone attending Equestricon but believes that even those people will learn from the panel. Not only will they learn why aftercare is important to think of when you’re a racing fan but it will also shine light on what many horses go on to do after their racing careers.
“Retired racehorses bring it back and close the circle - from breeding to racing to retirement, what could be more warming and cause for celebration? Too often especially on social media, people are bombarded with animal neglect and abuse stories, many of which under closer inspection fall under ‘fake news’ and sadly it’s what garners the public’s imagination,” she said. “For every bad story I see, I can point a person in the direction of 100 successes and hence this is why the panel is so important - so that the fans and the public can gain a real perspective!”
As to why aftercare is an important part of racing and deserves attention at Equestricon, Molloy says everyone in racing owes it to the horses to pay more attention to what happens after their racing careers.
“As a society, as an industry and as a community, we owe it to the horses to pull our heads out of the sand and address head on what happens to the horses when they retire, options that are available and how the entire cottage industry so to speak is funded,” she said. “Anyone that shares a passion for horse racing has to ultimately share a passion for horses and it's that same passion that leads everyone here at ReRun to do what they do. Just as human athletes struggle and face difficulties when entering retirement, so can many horses. As we reflect on ways to help human counterparts transition, we should also focus on the equine athletes also in need of a safety net that are unable to vocalize their needs.”
For those interested in programming that may pair well with "OTTB Successes," later on Monday"Aftercare Pathways, Presented by TAA" will be taking an even closer look at the sport and aftercare at 2:00p.m. You can also learn the other side of the racehorse’s life circle by attending Tuesday’s 9 a.m. panel discussing how breeding decisions are made for racehorses in ‘Q&A: The Breeding Game.’