03/01/2018 2:20PM

Rick Porter launches organization to help end racehorse slaughter


Prominent owner Rick Porter recently announced the launch of the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization, with the aim to ensure the welfare of Thoroughbreds leaving the racetrack by stopping the pipeline of horses available for purchase by slaughter buyers.

Porter, whose most successful runners under his nom de course Fox Hill Farm include Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and two-time Eclipse Award champion Songbird, has described the main purpose of his new organization as consolidating the efforts of smaller anti-slaughter organizations or individuals, including the creation of a national information and help hotline. The National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization also will address other equine welfare issues, such as illegal doping of horses, and will study breakdown rates on the racetrack, Porter said. Porter first announced the creation of the organization in the Blood-Horse.

While horse slaughter is not legal in the United States, it is in bordering Mexico and Canada, leaving open the possibility of retired racehorses appearing in feedlot sales for eventual purchase and shipment by slaughter buyers. Individuals or aftercare organizations often step in to buy and rescue them. In some cases, third parties may essentially ransom horses by purchasing them and marking up their price for a rescue group. Porter and Fox Hill’s executive vice president Victoria Keith envision addressing slaughter by drying up the pipeline of horses arriving at feedlots. They plan to work directly with racetracks, with National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization agents purchasing horses before they can appear at an auction.

“We commend [individual] efforts and owe a debt of gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do,” Porter said in a statement to the Blood-Horse. “What is missing, however, is a national industry organization, which can be pointed to as an all-encompassing equine welfare organization. Racing simply cannot have any stance other than slaughter being an unacceptable end for its horses. We cannot be seen as an industry driven only by greed, which disposes of its horses that are no longer useful to an inhumane ending.”

New Vocations incentive program

The New Vocations racehorse adoption program has announced the creation of the Retrained and Remarkable Challenge, an incentive-fueled education program seeking to find homes for retired racehorses who may be overlooked by potential adopters.

The Retrained and Remarkable Challenge, which will offer free shipping and a competition component to eligible horses, is a Right Horse Initiative Project funded by the WaterShed Animal Fund, which invests in programs to better the lives of companion animals.

Since its inception in 1992, New Vocations, which has re-homed more than 6,400 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, has found that a stigma surrounds common racing injuries among the equestrian community, deterring some prospective adopters. The new program aims to help educate the public on common race-related injuries, stable vices, and myths surrounding racehorses, encouraging a better understanding of what will or will not be a limiting factor in a second career.

New Vocations will offer adopters a $500 shipping credit on qualified horses; a free stall at the 2019 New Vocations All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington or at the 2019 New Vocations Charity Horse Show in Delaware, Ohio; and the chance to compete against other Challenge horses for $5,000 in cash and prizes. The goal of the program is to adopt 100 Challenge horses between now and the end of 2018.