02/02/2017 10:10AM

New Vocations expands to October Hill Farm in New York

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Last month, the New Vocations Thoroughbred retraining and adoption organization opened its New York satellite facility at Dan and Danielle Dill’s October Hill Farm in Fort Edward. Trainer Leandra Cooper will spearhead the retraining and adoption processes for horses housed at the farm, about 30 minutes northeast of Saratoga Springs.

“We are taking in over 80 retired racehorses a year just from New York racetracks and farms, so it was a logical step for us to open a facility there,” New Vocations program director Anna Ford said. “It has taken us nearly two years to find the right facility and personnel who meet our program’s standards. October Hill Farm and Leandra Cooper are great additions to our team, and we are excited to be able to serve more horses in the state.”

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New Vocations already operated Thoroughbred adoption facilities in Lexington, Ky. – which recently doubled its capacity with the construction of a state-of-the-art facility at Merewood Farm – Marysville, Ohio, and Hummelstown, Pa., as well as several Standardbred adoption facilities.

The addition in New York will take in horses coming via Take the Lead, a retirement program created by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association for horses stabled at New York Racing Association tracks. The program serves owners and trainers seeking retirement homes for their horses by facilitating their placement in established rehabilitation and retraining facilities. New Vocations was among the aftercare facilities taking in horses from Take the Lead, but now horses don’t have to travel out of state to its facilities.

“It makes shipping a whole lot easier and will cut down on our expenses,” Andy Belfiore, executive director for the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said of the new facility. “It also expands the equine industry and brings new jobs to the state. It’s a win-win.”

New Vocations at October Hill already has retirees listed for adoption. Among the first to find a new home through the facility will be Belroyalty, a gelding who won once from eight starts.

Other horses passing through New Vocations in the near future could find their second careers through a new partnership forged with the U.S. Pony Club to test the horse management and riding skills of young riders. Pre-approved Pony Club members will have the opportunity to adopt a horse via New Vocations with an adoption fee waived and an $1,800 stipend toward education and training through a grant provided by the WaterShed Animal Fund. The horses will be eligible to compete for cash and prizes at the 2018 USPC Championships East in dressage, eventing, games, polocrosse, show jumping, or Western disciplines.

“By bringing together two organizations that are leaders in their fields, we will be able to provide an educational, incentive-based competition for Pony Club members that will ultimately increase the number of retired racehorses being moved into second careers,” Ford said. “We feel very strongly that this program will help educate the public on how much these horses have to offer once they leave the track while providing a wonderful opportunity for Pony Club members to experience equine ownership.”