The MTA will be contributing $10 per member to The Distaff at This Old Horse in honor of these beautiful broodmares who play a vital role in our industry. We hope that others will keep this important group of Thoroughbreds in mind when making charitable contributions. You can learn more about The Distaff and This Old Horse by following the link included at the end of the article.
The mission of This Old Horse, Inc. is to assist horses in transition, including older and special needs horses, through programs we offer on farms we manage as well as through a network of foster hosts.
A problem to solve: One group we have identified as vulnerable are broodmares that have aged out of producing foals and are unlikely candidates (due to age) for retraining and rehoming in a performance career.
These mares have been selected and valued for their contributions to the industry and, although not as prolific or famous as their stallion counterparts, contribute their significant share to the success of the sport and the breed.
Many breeders and owners have the land and means to retire their broodmares on private farms. But those who do not have or choose that option seek retirement placement for these mares where they can find them.
Our solution: This Old Horse has established a Minnesota racehorse broodmare retirement sanctuary we call ‘The Distaff’ where broodmares who have raced or produced raced offspring can spend the remainder of the lives honored, revered and well tended as an homage to their contributions.
We provide a simple and stress-free experience for them. Small herds of compatible mares with free choice forage (pasture / hay) and excellent supplemental nutrition, regular health and hoof care and tender, loving care by experienced and committed caregivers.
We promote adoption and sponsorship programs so that each horse would eventually have their cost of care covered by a qualified new owner or sponsor.
This program integrates several of the racing industries goals.
First, it honors the contributions of the broodmare to the breed and to the business. Broodmares actively ‘work’ in the racing industry up until their breeding days are over making them some of the longest serving horses in the business.
Second, it addresses the stigma of the industry’s unwanted horses. An unwanted horse, by definition, is a horse that an owner no longer wants. This program provides a safe harbor for at risk horses—particularly those who are vulnerable to kill buyers based on their low market value compared to rideable or performance horses.
And lastly, by marketing a sponsorship and adoption program to the This Old Horse demographic of horse owners not necessarily interested in riding, it connects a new group of people who learn about Minnesota racing, learn to love racehorses and might be likely to expand their interest to include ownership of racing horses, too.